What Laker has the best +/- number this season? When you ask what player is most often on the court when the Lakers are doing well, the standard answer is Kobe. But so far the guy leading the way this season is Kwame Brown â€” the Lakers are +11.7 (per 48 minutes) when he is on the court (Kobe is +0.2 per 48). Kwameâ€™s impact is largely on the defensive end â€“ the Lakers give up 100.9 points per 100 opponent possessions when he is on the floor, which jumps to 108.3 when he is sitting.
Or, look at tit this way, the regular starting four with Bynum at center have outscored their opposing five 53.8% of the time they have been on the floor. Sub Kwame in for Bynum, and that jumps to 71.4%.
In case you wondered why Kwame is in the starting lineup.
Not to sound like Bill Simmonsâ€¦. The Pacers come in to LA with a 9-9 record, which is the fourth best in the East. Out West, nine teams have above .500 records.
And they come in tired. Check out what the Pacer beat writer for the Indianapolis Star, Mark Montieth, said on his blog about the Pacers for tonightâ€™s game:
Theyâ€™re playing the sixth and final game of a nine-day trip, so theyâ€™re tired. The Lakers, meanwhile, havenâ€™t had to leave town for more than a week. The Lakers (11-5) also happen to be good.
In other words, the Pacers have about as much chance of winning this game as Evan Bayh has of becoming the next president.
Thanks to Henry from True Hoop for finding that.
Good glove, no bat. The Pacers have been playing pretty good defense this season, holding opponents to a defensive rating of 105.7 (points per 100 possessions) and allowing them to shoot just 48.3% (eFG%).
However, their offense is the weak point. They have an offensive rating of 103.2 (points per 100 possessions), 26th in the league. For some comparison, the Lakers are 7th in the league with a rating of 110.2. What is holding the Pacers back? Well, they shoot just 47.6% (eFG%) as a team, but to make up for that they turn the ball over on 18.8% of their possessions (28th in the league, tied with the Lakers, but at least the Lakers shoot 52.1%). As we well know, turnovers on offense can also lead to easy baskets for the other team and a tough night defensively.
Jermaine O’Neal is good. So far this season he has been by far the best thing on the Pacers, with a PER of 20.52. But his shooting has not been special (just 51.6% true shooting percentage), what he is doing well is passing out of the double teams he gets (13% of his possessions end in an assist, third best percentage on the team) and he is rebounding well, grabbing 15.5% of the available boards (or 11.1 per 40 minutes).
But maybe the biggest sign of his impact is +/-, the Pacers are +14.0 per 48 minutes when he is on the court. However, two other starters, point Jamaal Tinsley and forward Al Harrington (both who have above average PERs of higher than 16) have some of the worst +/- numbers among starters in the league at -9.2 (Tinsley) and -8.3 (Harrington). Think about that for a second, they get to play a fair amount of their minutes with the strong +/- of Oâ€™Neal, so all that drop off has to come in the limited time he sits and they play.
Stephen Jackson canâ€™t shoot. Heâ€™s hitting just 40.4% (eFG%) of his attempts, but is still taking 19.2% of his teams shot attempts when on the floor (almost one in five shots). That will slow a teamâ€™s offense. That said, this stat is just here so I could write that kicker.
Things to look for. Two teams that are near the top of the league in turnovers, so if one of them could curb that habit for a night theyâ€™d have a big advantage.
If you just look at the numbers, youâ€™ll see the Pacers playing at the fourth fastest tempo in the league right now. But that is a little misleading: The three fastest teams (Denver, Phoenix and Golden State) are way out in front of everyone else, then from the Pacers at four to the Wizards at 12th fastest, every team is within one possession a game of each other. The Lakers are in that group.
I havenâ€™t seen the Pacers play yet this season, but just looking at the numbers you would think if the Lakers can come out and play good defense (like against the Clippers the other night, although the Clips helped us there) they should get the win. The Lakers other strength, the deep bench, also could be an advantage as the Pacers lack depth.
The Pacers have won just one game against the Lakers in LA since 1992. They are tired and at the end of a long road trip. Itâ€™s a game the Lakers SHOULD win, which has me worried because the last one of these games was against Milwaukee and we all remember that disaster.
Updated note: great thought from Kwame a. in the comments, so I moved it up:
I will be looking at our perimeter defense, especially Walton on Harrington and Kobe on Jackson. Teams with two wings who can attack have hurt us (Seattle w/Allen and Lewis, Det w/Rip and Prince). This is good preparation for teams like S.A. and Dallas, who have multiple perimeter options. Hopefully we can rotate and recover, limit the number of open looks and keep our bigs out of foul trouble