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Game 1 Advanced Stats and Sobering Thoughts

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Real and Speightacular on Oct 29 at 13:03
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As I understand it, the PO features the ball moving through the center, so it shouldn't be too surprising that Sam's getting the touches. Sam should just be savvy about what's a good percentage shot for him to take and be careful with his passes.

I wish I had tape of the Wizards to see if Haywood was handling the ball more than Jamison. For some reason, I doubt it.

I think your #5 point (defense) is the biggest concern for me. You won't have any chance at all allowing 16 made 3s (which as you said were mostly wide open) and it wasn't as if they let up all those threes but at least shut down Howard, who still got his points. And this was without last year's leader in 3 pointers made in the lineup (Rashard Lewis).

They had no clear defensive mandate. Just five guys running around freelancing and not doing a good job of it. Pitiful.

I did not watch the complete game. But in the 1st quarter, I saw Thad's guy wide open several times shooting from the outside. That concerns me, no one w/in 15 feet of him. Am I missing something? I thought we played 1 on 1 with each person defending a guy? And, if we cannot shoot average, we will not win no matter what we do.

I saw the same disappointing team as last year. Honestly, no difference as game 5 in the playoffs. Glad my Phillies won!

Overall, their offense was ugly, but they didn't shoot poorly at all. In fact, even when Orlando was blowing their doors off in the second quarter they were still scoring (thanks mostly to speights).

The problem was defense, and it wasn't purely on Thad or anyone other player, it was a team failure that starts w/ the head coach, then goes to the defensive guru.

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Rubin S. on Oct 29 at 20:59
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I can't believe there is no comment about Jason Williams in either of these weak blogs. It's clear you didn't even watch the game. You were too busy watching the Yanks getting spanked. Jwil took the game over and put it out of reach by the end of the half. The guy had 14 points, 5 assists in only 14 minutes. He was 4-4 from field, 3-3 from Downtown and shot 100% at the foul line. When all was said and done, the Magic scored 70 points in the first half.

I wouldn't be so hard on the Sixers. They just finished playing the best team in the NBA. Orlando went undefeated this preseason and so far are invincible in the regular season. And with arguably the most exciting point guard to ever play the game coming off the bench, I expect them to annihilate all competition.

behindthebacksports.com still lives!

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Duracorr on Oct 29 at 21:41
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Brian,
Good analysis. I did see most of the game. (I find baseball too stressful to watch when I care who wins.)

I'm not surprised by Speights' poor +/-. Where do you get those stats? I made a half-hearted effort to find +/- stats this afternoon, because I wanted to see if Speights was better or worse than Dalembert. I suspect he was worse even though many comments on Philly.com raved about Speights' play.

I was most concerned with the play of Brand. I thought he looked old and slow. I hope that's not all there is to Elton Brand.

My second concern was for the horrible defensive effort. I'm not knowledgeable enough to figure out what their defensive philosophy was, but whatever it was, they didn't do it well.

I'm hoping they do better tomorrow night. I should get more insight watching in person than on TV.

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deepsixersuede reply to Duracorr on Oct 29 at 23:19
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Plus/minus stats are affected by who you are on the court with; when Spioeghts first came in for Sam the starters were still on the floor and it was back and forth for both teams.I will be the first to rip him for lack of defensive effort but not last night.He tried hard to defend Howard one on one, an impossible task, and had a nice weakside block,he wasn!t the problem, the fact that we played Howard straight up most of the time and still gave up open threes is all about effort and having a gameplan,so we better hope they do.

This is a good point, and it's also a reason why I chose to track rotations etc. (by the way, you can see +/- stats on ESPN box scores, or yahoo sports box scores).

So let's take a look at the rotations from game one and see how Speights performed with each lineup he was part of:


  • Speights, EB, TY, AI, LW (4 starters) +1 in 2:39

  • Speights, Smith, TY, Carney, LW (2 starters) -3 in 0:45

  • Speights, Smith, Kapono, Carney, LW (1 starter) -7 in 2:49

  • Speights, Smith, Kapono, Carney, Willie (0 starters) -1 in 3:17

  • Speights, EB, TY, AI, LW (4 starters) -2 in 0:51

  • Speights, EB, TY, AI, LW (4 starters) +1 in 2:15

  • Speights, Smith, TY, AI, LW (3 starters) -2 in 3:11

  • Speights, Smith, Kapono, AI, Ivey (1 starter) -4 in 3:28

  • Speights, TY, Kapono, AI, Ivey (2 starters) +6 in 3:23

  • Speights, EB, Kapono, Carney, Ivey (1 starter) +1 in 2:09

So some interesting trends here.

  • Speights played 5:45 with 4 starters and had a +/- of 0
  • Speights played 9:08 with Elton Brand and had a +/- of -1
  • Speights played 9:34 with 1 or fewer starters and had a +/- of -11

So when Speights played with 2 or more starters (roughly 17 minutes), he had a +/- of -1. The team fell to pieces when he was out there with the second string. Pretty interesting splits when you break it down like this.

Personally, I think this further supports my theory that Speights plays up/down to the other players on the floor. Play him with starters, against starters, he remains focused on both ends of the floor. He may get beat on defense, but the effort is there. Play him with scrubs, against scrubs, and all he cares about is getting shots up.

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Real and Speightacular reply to Brian on Oct 30 at 8:58
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That's a really intriguing hypothesis. We know Speights certainly can play pretty good defense. We've seen flashes of great defense/rebounding in the past. He's just really inconsistent with it, more often only half-hearted about it. It's probably not good for him to be on a team where he sees a lot of half-hearted effort out at the perimeter (he might be too willing to think, "if they're not chasin, why should i?").

It'd be interesting to observe the games to see if that's a real correlation. What exactly gets his defensive motor sparked and gunning? Is it the Sam Treatment (feed the dog and he'll guard the yard)?

I think if you could accurately answer that question, you'd have a future as a sports psychologist. For the time being, this is definitely something to keep an eye on. Like I said in my wrap, I thought the effort was there for Speights in this game. As for the defensive results, well, there's not a whole lot anyone can do against Howard except foul him when he has an open dunk.

The Bucks don't have any superheroes on their team, so I'm really looking forward to seeing the effort level tonight. I think it's not only about who Speights is playing with, but who he's playing against that dictates his activity level on the defensive end.

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bebopdeluxe reply to Brian on Oct 30 at 12:53
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Good analysis, Brian...this is similar to the data from last season on 82games.com, which very clearly suggested that Speights is a different player when he is out there with the starters than when he is out there with mostly reserves.

Simple answer - start him.

Well, more important is how the starting rotation performs with him in it, rather than how he performs in the starting lineup. If they're +50 with Dalembert and even with Speights, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to put Speights in just because he personally performs better with that group.

This wasn't the case last night, but it was the case last year.

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bebopdeluxe reply to Brian on Oct 30 at 16:25
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A little different situation last season, in that Brand was not around...and the question was should Speights start over Willie G. and his impact numbers with the starters versus the bench guys could be looked at in that context. With Brand back in the mix, it is now a Speights vs. Sammy decision and, of course, if Sammy's +/- with the starters is higher than Speights, then that is another thing entirely.

My concern is that the decision on whether to start Sammy or Speights will be - at least in part - decided by factors other than +/-...which concerns me. This team does not have THAT much talent that we can keep somebody in the starting linup that is not as good as somebody who is on the bench (even forgetting the player development benefit that Speights gets from the minutes)...this isn't Iavaroni versus Bobby Jones...or bringing Manu off the bench...to keep Sammy out there because he loses some perceived "trade value" if he doesn't start...or because they are concerned that he'll sulk and not be effective off the bench...I don't think the team has that luxury.

If the numbers show that Sammy is a better starter than Speights, I will respectfully back down...but I sure would like to give it a shot and see what happens.

Completely agree that it has to be about which is the best lineup, maybe to be more accurate, which combination results in the best team (speights' scoring may really be needed off the bench, you may just need to get him in better rotations from that role). I don't care about sulking and that other stuff, and I'd hope the team doesn't either. To this point, I believe the team is better with Sammy out there, and the numbers back it up. If those numbers reverse, then absolutely start Speights.

from what I've read three point defence was a big problem for Jordan's Washington teams.

It's early, so I'm not going to get on the "should've brought in a defensive coach" soapbox yet, but man I'm itching to.

Definitely too early to make any conclusions after one game.

Just add 3 pt defense to the list of potential concerns and areas to watch. along with a whole litany of other things (which is the case for most non-elite teams entering a new season.)


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