Tale of the Tape

Reed —  June 2, 2009

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” – Twain

As we have four days to ponder, evaluate, fret, puff, antagonize, argue, morally lecture – and generally do the types of things fans do when they’ve been walking an emotional tightrope for six months and the end goal is within sight – let’s take the time to analyze the tale of the tape.

1. Big Picture Season Stats

Record: LA (65-17); Orlando (59-23)
Point differential: LA (+7.7); Orlando (+6.7)
Home/Road: LA (36/29 wins); Orlando (32/27 wins)

Offensive efficiency: LA (109.8 – third); Orlando (107.2 – eighth)
Defensive efficiency: LA (101.9 – fifth); Orlando (98.9 – first)

Pace: LA (96.9); Orlando (94.6)
Rebound rate: LA (51.5 – fifth); Orlando (50.7 – ninth)

I don’t think there’s much to take away from these big picture numbers. Based on past years, both teams have legitimate title level credentials. Orlando won more games and has a similar point differential to LA’s 2008 team. Both teams are strong on the road. There isn’t a significant difference in pace to suggest one style would help/hurt either team. The big difference is that Orlando is the elite defensive team in the league and we are an elite offensive team. Sound familiar? Hopefully we see a different conclusion this time around.

2. Nitty Gritty Season Stats

Points from 3s: LA (20.0, 36.1% – 17th); Orlando (29.9, 38.1% – 2nd)
Points from 3s given up: LA (21.4, 34.5% – 24th); Orlando (16.2, 34.2% – 2nd)

Interior points: LA (37.8 – 5th); Orlando (31.7 – 21st)
Interior points given up: LA (35.4 – 23rd); Orlando (28.8 – 2nd)

“Clutch” player (production per 48 in last 5 minutes of a close game):
• LA: Kobe (56.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 45.7% fg, 40% 3s, 92% ft)
• Orlando: Lewis (28.0, 7.0, 2.7, 51.1, 43.5, 84.0); Turkoglu (26.6, 9.3, 3.6, 35.7, 20.0, 88.0)

Bench (production per game):
• LA (29.5 points, 14.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, +449 on the year)
• Orlando (23.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, +199)

PER differential ranks by position:
• LA: PG (26th, -3.2), SG (2nd, +9.6), SF (12th, +0.9), PF (10th, +1.3), C (2nd, +6.6)
• Orlando: PG (7th, +2.5), SG (26th, -3.7), SF (11th, +1.6), PF (7th, +2.7), C (1st, +8.9)

Notes:

• Orlando’s use of the three as a weapon cannot be overstated. They not only use it offensively, but they defend it as well as anyone, ending the season second in both points scored and allowed from behind the arc. They force teams to shoot poorly from three, but also force them to shoot infrequently (which is as important). This results in a monstrous 13.7 point per game advantage from deep for Orlando. In possessions where Orlando attempts a three, their offensive rating is 114.5 (which would lead the league); in possessions where they attempt a two point field goal, their offensive rating is 98.8 (which would be last in the league).
• Orlando also does not give up points in the paint, finishing 2nd in interior points allowed. That means that they understand fundamental defensive principles – make teams shoot long 2s and limit threes and points in the paint. As a consequence, they give up the fourth most points in the league on two point jump shots, but that’s obviously a category you want to lead the league in (LA is actually third in the league in two point jump shooting percentage, so perhaps they are positioned well to counter Orlando’s defense). Think Boston all over again, but maybe better.
• On offense, Orlando applies the reverse of their defensive philosophy – its either a three or points in the paint every time. They finished last in the league in points from perimeter two’s. This is a well designed and coached team. No fool’s gold here.
• The PER differential stats tell us that these teams feature the two best center rotations (Howard/Gortat and Pau/Bynum), but that LA enjoys a massive advantage at SG. We’ll see if Pietrus can mitigate that to some degree. Orlando has a big edge at PG. While their stats may be inflated by Nelson’s early season performance, ours may not fully reflect how badly Fisher has slipped.
• LA has a huge advantage with Kobe at the end of games compared to Lewis and Turkoglu. Call me master of the obvious. That said, Lewis proved repeatedly through the playoffs that he has ice in his veins.

3. Playoff Stats

Laker individual playoff stats:
• Kobe is making a living at the line, averaging 8.5 attempts and making almost 90%. Everybody else is really struggling from the line.
• Gasol: 18.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.0 blocks, 57% shooting. Solid. But he needs to step up his game against Howard (21.7 points, 15.4 rebounds, and 62% shooting).
• Ariza is shooting 50% from three; Odom 52%; Brown 48%; Fisher 23%. None of those look right.

Orlando individual playoff stats:
• 5 players make 1.3 or more threes per game; all shoot over 35%.
• Turkoglu is the engine of their offense, but he’s only shooting 41% and commits 2.7 TO’s per game.
• As expected, it’s Howard or nothing on the boards. He’s averaging an insane 15.4 and the next closest (Lewis) averages 6.1.

Lakers in wins:
• Kobe: 30.8 points, 50.8 FG%, 20.8 FGA, 3.9 3FGA, 8.9 FTA
• Rebounds: +1.6
• Gasol: 17.6 points, 11.3 FGA
• Ariza + Odom: 26.0 points
• FTA: 30

Lakers in losses:
• Kobe: 27.2 points, 39.3 FG%, 24.2 FGA, 5.7 3FGA, 7.7 FTA
• Rebounds: -1.0
• Gasol: 19.3 points, 13.3 FGA
• Ariza+Odom: 18.2 points
• FTA: 25.5 points

Orlando in wins:
• 3s made/attempted: 9.4/24.0 (39.2%)
• Rebounds: +1.4
• Howard: 22.0 points and 16.0 rebounds
• Alston+Pietrus: 26.0 points

Orlando in losses:
• 3s made/attempted: 7.1/22.3 (32.1%)
• Rebounds: -3.1
• Howard: 21.1 points and 14.4 rebounds
• Alston+Pietrus: 18.5 points

Home/Road splits:
• LA: 106/99 points, 43.2/41.5 rebounds, 22.6/17.3 assists, 48.6/44.4 FG%
• Orlando: 99.7/97.4 points, 40.6/36.5 rebounds, 16.8/21.0 assists, 45.3/47.7 FG%

Notes:

• While we often (and rightly) maintain that a principal key to victory is getting Gasol the ball, the story is more complicated than that. He scores and shoots more often in losses than victories. Instead, if we are looking for simple trends, then three big things stand out in Laker wins vs. losses: (1) Kobe plays and shoots much better when they win; he also shoots less frequently; an efficient Kobe means victory; (2) Odom and Ariza are our wild cards; when they are firing on offense we have too much talent; and (3) we get 5.3 more assists when we win. All three things are related, obviously.
• The following things happen when Orlando wins: (1) they rebound; (2) they shoot and make more 3s; and (3) Alston and Pietrus play well. Howard’s production stays roughly the same either way.
• LA plays much, much better at home than the road, as the numbers show a wild swing in points, shooting, rebounds, and assists. We’ve seen this all spring. Orlando is much more steady, actually shooting and passing better on the road. This makes winning the first two all the more critical for LA.

4. Playoff Lineup Stats

Lakers:
+/-: Odom (+15.8), Kobe (+13.2), Pau (+5.6), Brown (+3.0), Walton (+2.6), Farmar (+2.5), Fisher (-5.1), Ariza (-5.3), Bynum (-6.1), Sasha (-7.6)
Best 5 man lineups: (1) Farmar, Kobe, Ariza, Odom, Gasol (+28 per 48); (2) Brown, Kobe, Walton, Odom, Gasol (+26); (3) Brown, Sasha, Kobe, Odom, Gasol (+22)
Worst 5 man: (1) Fisher, Kobe, Ariza, Pau, Bynum (-12); (2, 3) Farmar, Sasha, Walton, Odom, Pau/Bynum (both +1)

Orlando:
+/-: Lewis (+10.4), Gortat (+7.7), Pietrus (+2.2), Alston (+1.4), Turkoglu (-.1), Lee (-1.2), Johnson (-2.7), Howard (-8.3)
Best 5 man: (1) Alston, Lee, Pietrus, Lewis, Howard (+33); (2) Johnson, Pietrus, Turkoglu, Lewis, Gortat (+32), (3) Alston, Pietrus, Turkoglu, Lewis, Howard (+16)
Worst 5 man: (1) Johnson, Pietrus, Turkoglu, Lewis, Howard (-11); (2) Alston, Lee, Turkoglu, Lewis, Howard (-7); (3) Johnson, Lee, Pieturs, Lewis, Howard (+6)

Notes:

• Both teams start with one of their worst lineups; LA’s starting 5 is their single worst and Orlando’s is their 2nd worst. This encourages blogging fans to think they could run the rotations better…
• Fisher is a huge weak link; playing either Farmar or Brown makes LA much more productive (but it doesn’t seem to matter which one).
• Walton is sneaky good; Odom deserves the minutes over Bynum, both in terms of +/- and 5 man lineups.
• Puzzling numbers for Gortat, Howard, and Ariza. Not sure what to make of it, other than the inherent limitations of stats.

Final Thoughts:

These are two very evenly matched teams. Based on what we see in the stats, I think LA’s keys to the series are:

1. Chase Orlando off the three point line. Again, master of the obvious. I think everything they do offensively, including Howard to a large degree, operates to set up the 3. See if Howard and their drives can beat you before you overhelp off the shooters. This is counterintuitive, but they are a strange brew.
2. Ariza and Odom vs. Alston and Pietrus. The production of each pair is strongly tied to each team’s success. This is probably because you know what you will get from the principals on each team, and these are the role players capable of making more than modest contributions.
3. Rebounding. Orlando rebounds much more poorly when they lose than when they win; we rebound a little better when we win; on net, this points to controlling the boards as a key factor.
4. Kobe. If we get four more Teen Wolf Kobe games, we cannot be beat, notwithstanding what Orlando does (and that does not mean chucking Kobe, it means unrivaled master of his craft Kobe — see Denver games 5 and 6). Gasol is what he is – efficient, but he his production falls within a fairly narrow range. When Kobe shoots well from the perimeter, takes the ball to the basket, and gets to the line, he simply breaks down a defense and opens up opportunities for everyone. Thus, the better he plays, the more his teammates produce, and vice versa. We often overlook him because he’s always great, but there are degrees of greatness and we need Game 6 against Denver Kobe, and not 2008 Boston Kobe.

Prediction: LA in 7, but either team could win in 6 or 7. Orlando is better than Denver and LA could have easily been down 3-1 to them at one point. Ultimately, I see Kobe having four more “I refuse to lose” games in him, and he and Pau will get enough periodic help from Odom, Ariza, and others to secure victory. Pau plays Howard to a near draw, Ariza is the unsung hero, and LA wins a close, hard-fought, but not panic-less series.

–Reed

Reed

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101 responses to Tale of the Tape

  1. Also, Dex has been pumping out reams of beautiful nonsense over at his new blog. Check it out for a good time.

    http://www.k24-8.blogspot.com/

  2. Good analysis Reed. Should be a fun , close hard fought series.

    I think it will come down to the Lakers transition defense (not letting the Magic get 3′s in transition) and rebounding. If Gasol (when he is playing C which will be the majority of the time) and Kobe can draw Howard away from the basket this might open up offensive rebound opportunities for Odom/Walton and Ariza since they are all better rebounders than their counterparts.

    If the Lakers can control the boards, preventing easy put back baskets for Howard and getting extra positions, than I feel confident that they can win this series.

  3. The statistics point to the importance of home court for the Lakers.

    From both an offensive and defensive standpoint, the Lakers MUST run their triangle offense continuously. This is really the only way to a) get good shots and b) remain in good defensive position (very, very important) to prevent runouts to the 3pt line. This has been a weakness of our defense, as we tend to retreat to the paint before spreading out to the perimeter.

  4. From the last thread:
    81 lil’ pau. Why the low opinion of SVG? I actually think he’s a great coach in terms of adjustments and motivating his team. I think SVG, RA, and Sloan are about the same and Karl and Mike Brown are awful.
    I would totally pay to watch the Van Gundy brothers do standup, even if it ends up being unintentional humor. Actually, especially if so.
    84 John T., thanks for that breakdown. It’s a travesty that simple soft doubles can get us out of what works best – going to Pau.
    86 Snoop, thanks for saying everything I wanted to. Very cathartic to read.

    It’s really going to come down to X-factors. Alston/Pietrus/Lee versus Odom/Ariza. Who can make their shots? Otherwise, Kobe would have to be counted on to be ultra efficient.

  5. Isn’t Teen Wolf synonymous with super-selfish, 1-on-5 play? That’s what I think of, anyway. I definitely don’t wany to see Teen Wolf Kobe.

  6. 5 – That’s true, I don’t want that either. Time to rewatch that classic, even if just for the special effects.

    I mean superhuman, capable of the impossible Kobe, not selfish 1 on 5 Kobe.

  7. Pau has impressed me with his adjustments and attention to detail, especially on D. His energy and hustle has improved.

    If Gasol performs and the Lakers win, will he be designated the best power forward in the league?

  8. #6, Reed,
    You mean “Mambo Mode” ;)

    #7, Don,
    Pau is impressively good at adjusting his play to what his opponents are doing. Is this one of those situations where Phil’s coaching style of letting players work things out on the court on their own really shines, or is it just a result of Pau being a very intelligent player with great ball handling skills? Inquiring minds (mine at least) wants to know.

  9. Whooops… Mambo was supposed to be Mamba!

    Though the mental image of Kobe doing the mambo is quite entertaining. :D

  10. Here is something that people have noted as of yet. Orlando came back from large leads several times against Cleveland. I have to think that this is because of 3 point shooting. I think if the Lakers get a 15 point lead, they can grind it out and go shot for shot with Orlando. So will Jackson develop a no threes at any cost stance in these circumstances? Let Howard score two (or often one when he’s sent to the line) each time down, and we’ll run our offense in response and score the same or more each time.

  11. Great work, Reed, major props.

    I’d be interested to know Pau’s assist totals in win/losses. I think it’s his touches that are more important than how many shots he takes, but even his assists may not directly reflect that (we need hockey assists).

    The line about Orlando being like Boston last year is scary, but true. For the 2nd straight year we head to the Finals with the reigning DPOY big man and a top-league defensive team. We have a very good shot of winning, but don’t overlook the possibility of a disaster if our supporting cast doesn’t step up. In some ways this team is worse for us than Boston last year because their offensive system exploits our defensive one so easily.

    What strikes me about the Magic is how well coached they are. SVG has become particularly unlikeable from a personality standpoint as this season’s worn on – his interview demeanor has really started to grate on me, and I’ve been one of his hardcore fans for years – but he deserves the recognition.

    My main focus/worry is just getting these first two games. We’ve split them in the last 2 series, and Orlando has taken 2 Game 1′s on the road. They are an excellent road team, and we normally come out flat after this much rest. Kobe or Pau may have to set the tone early.

  12. Reed, this is fantastic analysis – everything I’d want to know about both teams at my fingertips. Where’d you get the stats for it?

  13. I aree that the PER differential for SG’s is a big key to this series. Can Orlando contain Kobe in a manner that limits the effectiveness of the other four Lakers that share the court with him? Orlando forced Lebron to get his (which he was able to do) but did it in a manner where they rarely gave up uncontested looks to other players. This led to a lack of rythm, so that even when the Cavs’ players did get uncontested looks, they didn’t fall at the rate they normally would have if they were playing in rythim and with confidence.

    Also, can Gasol be enough of an impact against Howard (or Lewis – but with Howard lurking) where the Magic’s defensive schemes buckle under the pressure of defending both the paint and the perimeter? So far in these playoffs, Orlando has not faced a team with strong Post and Perimeter games. The Lakers are that type of team. If Gasol (and/or Bynum and Odom) can consistently attack the interior of the Magic’s defense and score, will that give our perimter players the space they need to hit shots?

    And, if we start to fire on all cylandars on offense, will our motion and cutting disrupt Orlando’s defense which is based off anchoring with Howard and then closing hard on the perimeter? These are ways where our offense is better and more diverse in it’s attack than any other the Magic have faced so far in the post season. If we can effectively get Howard’s head on a swivel and make their smaller PF’s defend the paint and rebound with our bigger PF’s, can Orlando do enough to truly control the paint? These are all questions that can’t be answered until the games start. But we are one of the only teams that has the ingredients to attack the Magic’s D in this manner.

  14. Great analysis, Reed. And thanks for the tip on Dex’s blog, it’s fantastic.

  15. There’s been some debate on the Pau/Lewis matchup. I asked Eddy of TQC (who does some fantastic work over there) his thoughts, and his opinion is that Lewis is vastly underrated as a defender.

    IMO, Pau will still get his numbers, because he’s the most offensively skilled 4 in the league. But maybe it’s not safe to say Pau will exploit or “destroy” Lewis any more than he exploited others who have guarded him (Scola or Boozer, for instance). Lewis is actually worse, because unlike those players he can really pay back Pau on the other end and negate our normal advantage at the 4.

    Guess we have to wait until Thursday to see how that starting 4 matchup turns out. I’m very interested to see how Pau does defensively, especially.

  16. I like our matchups on Turkoglu – Ariza is a more than capable defender, and if he can induce a few extra turnovers that can only help us.

    Walton matches up pretty well with Turkoglu too. Walton’s average footspeed/lateral quickness won’t be exposed and he’s a fairly smart and capable defender. His weaknesses are exposed when he’s playing against a much faster/stronger 3 and ends up committing dumb fouls. (Which happened seemingly every game against Carmelo.)

    Turkoglu has a nice height advantage, and he can shoot the long ball, but I think Walton should be at least adequate defending the Turkoglu/Howard pick and roll.

  17. I was mulling over the matchups last night and one thing really leaped out at me: Offensive rebounding. Pau, Bynum and Odom all have a serious edge on anyone not named Dwight Howard. And the scrappiness and length of Kobe, Ariza and Walton are also a slight edge over Turk/Pietrus/Lee, whereas Turkoglu has had a serious size advantage against his opposite number thus far in the playoffs.

    I can see Howard grabbing 7-8 offensive boards a game because he’s a beast, but I don’t see anyone else making a serious dent against the Lakers’ frontcourt. If the Lakers control their defensive glass, it should be a fairly easy series for them. If they can’t keep Turk and Lewis away from a few easy ones, it could go poorly.

  18. Nice analysis.

    The Lakers have looked impressive their last 5 1/2 quarters. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can maintain their physical play of as of late. In order to continue my trend of picking against the Lakers, I will be forced to pick Orlando in 7.

  19. When talking about offensive rebounds, you have to take into account the style of play of the offensive team. With cutters and motion (the triangle) the team should almost always have someone moving toward the basket and toward the perimeter as a shot is taken. This results in a better shot at an offensive rebound.

    When we are passing the ball around-the-horn, we have very little motion toward the basket and our offensive rebounds will go down.

    How Orlando will keep us passing around the perimeter is really the question.

  20. Kurt,
    I think your filter looks for unique words and stops anything that isn’t 6th grade english. That doesn’t mean I am interesting, just verbose.

  21. Nice work, Reed.

    Adande has an article about the “Stage Fright factor”. Obviously this is am unmeasurable quantity, but a factor nevertheless. I think the Lakers suffered mightily from this during last year’s Finals.

    Winning the battle for long rebounds on good defensive possessions seems to be a good measuring stick for this team, as well. Those are heart breakers, and Boston won all those battles last year. it also kept Denver in both the games they won.

  22. I hope Nelson does play. No way he is in any kind of game shape.

    Heck, Fisher might even be able to keep up with him! (I am ashamed, but that joke was too easy…)

  23. I think Hollinger has some great insights, but his quote today reveals his greatest flaw – he’s so married to his numbers he can’t see beyond them to common sense.

    He claims Ariza is better than Turkoglu and says “Ariza has outranked Turkoglu in player efficiency rating two of the past three seasons, plays better D and is quietly shooting 50 percent on 3s in the playoffs.”

    Yes, let’s ignore the fact that Hedo is, as Bill Bridges said, the closest thing to Magic we’ve seen; he bears about 1000 times more offensive responsibility than Trevor. Ariza shoots 50% because threes are wide open and carefully chosen, Turk hits game winning threes with hands in his face. He creates shots for himself and others, and is the engine to that offense. Can you structure any type of offense around Trevor? Nothing against Ariza, of course.

    Hollinger’s statement there is so ludicrous I’m almost in disbelief. I’m not one of the Hollinger haters, but he’s making it very hard to defend him. Too many microbrews, maybe.

  24. What is a series without a little bit of panic?

  25. if Nelson does play, I would hope that we would dole out some hard, clean fouls on his shoulder if he attacks the rim.

  26. 24. Well he was the one who invented that Hollinger’s stats, so yeah he have to base everything on stats. Even though I agree with you when you say he lost his credibility.

    But anyway, who want to make a petition for Odom so that that he won’t eat candy? It will help us a lot, i know it!

  27. Snoopy2006,
    Thank you!
    We need to call out these “stats heads” whenever they make really stupid extrapolations from their data.

    Numbers inform, they don’t define.

  28. More proof that Ric Bucher has lost it:

    On ESPN’s Web site, their NBA “experts” were asked whether Alston is a better 1 than Fish.

    Ric’s response: “Skip is a better spot-up shooter. Right now. Fisher is still the better decision-maker, a point guard’s most important job.”

    Has he seen Fisher run a break this season? The PUJIT, bad passes or one-on-three drives against 6’8″ defenders?

    I love Fish for all he’s done for the Lakers; we all do. But it was no surprise when the most defining fast break play of the Denver series came when Fish was not involved in the play. And how sad is it that a 7-footer (Pau) ran the middle better than Fish would have before feeding Shannon’s stuff over Andersen.

    That play was never happening had Fish received the outlet pass.

  29. i wonder if Phil will continue to stick with the vet (Fish) for so long. I expect him to start, but at what point is it enough.

    How quick will PJ’s trigger be? Not time to let the kinks work out now. I’d like to think Fish can help set the tone defensively, and not worry about picking up fouls. Two quick fouls for him are a good thing.

    His defense was decent, I think, but it’s his decisions that kill me. He’s supposed to be a veteran, but continues to foul late in the shot clock, is the worst on fast breaks, and is not a very good passer.

  30. 24

    Wow. I know Hollinger worships at the shrine of PER, but that is an incredibly inane statement from someone who actually watches and writes about the NBA for a living.

  31. Lot’s of interesting stats Reed, you like took the 82games site facts and seemed to write them so that a layman like me could understand where the teams are now. I was not surprised that our starting 5 is the worst of our 5 man teams on the floor. Yeah, now Fisher can play many minutes per game with Nelson and we should be OK, unless he has been in training for months and is back to his pre-injury shape.

  32. Here is a good link on an article about Kobe, kind of refreshing these days.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/sports/basketball/03kobe.html?_r=1&hp

  33. #29,
    Yet another reason we want to win. If Fisher wants to retire after this season, I want to see him go out with a Championship.

  34. 33. that’s a good article. nowadays you don’t see any articles beyond the normal stereotypes for Kobe.

  35. Ariza was activated last year for the finals and had zero impact on the finals. He was not in game shape. Even if Nelson plays, i doubt he will play big minutes. As a coach, throwing a player out in the NBA Finals that his been shut down for 4 1/2 months can be risky.

  36. Excellent analysis Reed. Its amazing what happens when someone does their homework!

    Again, Reed, this is top-notch stuff.

  37. Bianca – That’s a good article. Too often we focus on Kobe vs MJ or Kobe vs someone, but among wing players Kobe’s been peerless for much of this decade.

  38. #33, Bianca,
    I was going to say something sarcastic about how it took someone outside of “traditional sports media” to take a fresh look at the Kobe phenomenon from a new angle, but instead I’ll just say thanks for sharing. It was an enjoyable read.

  39. @ Rob from the last thread: Misunderstanding on my part. I apologize. I read it wrong, I guess.

  40. This is a hilarious, awesome read. The Man Who Can Stop Kobe:

    http://www.slamonline.com/online/media/slam-tv/2009/02/the-guy-who-says-he-stopped-kobe/

    The kid played good D, but the funniest thing is that the guy seems to believe it’s possible for him to stop today’s Kobe.

    If he could play that defense at the NBA level, he would have made millions. Still, it’s a nice story to tell grandchildren.

  41. There are a few things to keep in perspectve:

    1.) Jameer Nelson was the top scorer in both Magic wins. Rafer Alston certainly will not be dropping 28 and 27 points on the Lakers.

    2.) Orlando was a match up nightmare for the Cavaliers. Playing Lewis at the PF neutralized the (underrated) defensive bigs of the Cavaliers – specifically Varejao and Big Ben. Odom and Ariza would match up real well against the Turkoglu and Lewis.

    3.) In both games, the Lakers were leading by over 10 points at one point and, not counting end game freethrows, Orlando essentially won both games by only 3 points. That isn’t the sign of dominance to me, close games usually boil down to end-game execution, which the Lakers obviously failed to do at the end of those two games. Don’t expect the Lakers to fumble this far into the playoffs.

    4.) The Lakers’ bench strength revolves around the back-up guards (Vujacic, Farmar, Brown) and Odom. Orlando does not have the likes of Deron Williams, Aaron Brooks, Chauncey Billups, or J.R. Smith. The Lakers guards will, almost certainly, perform better than they have so far. Luke Walton shot 41.7% in the WCF, up from 29.2% in the Semi-Conference Finals. Last, but not least, Lamar Odom has finally arrived, ladies and gentlemen.

    5.) Orlando did not “so easily dispatched” the Cleveland Cavaliers as the “experts” continue to exclaim. The first and fourth games were there for the taking by the Cleveland Cavs, but they fumbled. Sure, Game 2 could have easily been an Orlando win had James not made the last second buzzer beater, so we’ll just say that there was one (net) game that Cleveland could have won. In short, the series could have gone to a Game 7, and back to a 50-50 game.

  42. Reed, Great work. One question I had was about the lineups with Fisher. For the initial part of the playoffs Phil stuck a lot with Fisher. But, in the Denver series Phil has been giving more minutes to Brown and Farmar. I think doing an analysis of the 5-man units for the Denver series would be interesting as well. Does 82games.com give you data for each series as well?

  43. PeanutButterSpread June 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Bianca –

    That was a great article on Kobe and now that I think about it, he’s has so many of these so-called “rivals” ala Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, etc etc yet none have truly ever challenged or really rivaled Kobe … they’ve all fallen to the way side.

    As for the series, call me a pessimist, but right now I’m not feeling too good about it anymore. I’m sure I’m going to feel differently tomorrow or something, I’ve been swinging back and forth on how I feel the Lakers will do. I think the wait is driving me loony.

  44. Great stats. Tells me exactly what to look out for. Thanks!

    Go Lakers!

    http://balmer.typepad.com/keithsmooth/
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  45. Danny Ferry: “I don’t know if we’ll win 67 games next year or 47, but we’ll get better.”

    I see…

  46. What most people haven’t addressed yet is the fact that if/when Jameer comes back and plays spot minutes (10-15) from the bench (in place of Anthony Johns), it’ll likely be mostly with the other bench guys in the game, whom he’s definitely not as comfortable with. Looking at 82games.com top 5-man units for the Magic [http://www.82games.com/0809/0809ORL2.HTM], Nelson’s appearances in any of the top 10 5-man units contained at least Turkoglu, Lewis and Howard on the floor at the same time (not bench players). Will he play mostly with the starters, whom I’m sure he has considerably more practice/game time with? (I’m not sure he has the game legs/mind yet to do this…) Or will he run with Pietrus/Gortat and company, whom he may not be as familiar with (remember, Pietrus was out for a while at the beginning of the season). Yes, Jameer running the P&R with Howard will definitely pose problems for the Lakers, but if you’re going to run Dwight extended minutes, you’ll be creating some kind of mismatch later on when he sits (equivalent to Dwight being in foul trouble). Don’t get me wrong: he’ll provide a spark for sure, but I’m sure something will get thrown out of wack, rotation or rhythm wise.

  47. Does anybody know what kind of labrum tear Nelson had? Reports at the time indicated that he had a dislocation as well. If that’s true, he probably had a a Bankart Leison repair surgery on Feb 19, which has a six month recovery period. It’s not all that negotiable, because the surgery repairs the repairs inate or induced (via the injury) instabillity in the shoulder. Assuming about a one month immobilization period and the atrophy that goes with it, he’s only been in PT for about a month restoring the soft tissue that holds the shoulder together.

    Coming back too soon is a really, really bad idea, because if you hit, say, a blindside pick or a your arm gets wrenched the wrong way in a scramble for the ball, your shoulder pops out, takes your newly repaired labrum with it, and puts you back under the bright lights of the OR.

    This has got to be a ploy, right?

  48. I also love Hollinger’s recurring, fallacious interpretation of the law of averages. According to him, if a team shoots poorly for a stretch they’re “due” for a good shooting game. Isn’t this the #1 myth of probability? Shooting poorly on one game has no effect on the next game, because that game already happened. Just like if you flip a quarter 5 times, get 5 heads, you still only have a 50/50 shot of getting tail the next time. That’s different than saying what’s the probability of getting 6 heads in a row, none of which has happened, = .5^6

  49. Did I say a month of PT? I meant two and a half months.

    Sorry.

  50. According to him, if a team shoots poorly for a stretch they’re “due” for a good shooting game. Isn’t this the #1 myth of probability?

    It’s the same way of thinking that keeps you buying back into a poker game for the fifth time in an evening. You’re will be dealt those pocket aces next hand. Really, you will. You’re due some good cards.

    And you’re so convinced that you’re going to spend your last money going all in on a suited King-Jack, get called (after the kind of night you’ve been having, no one is going to believe that this is anything but a desperation move on half decent cards), and lose it when the turn card pairs the board and gives the other guy trip fives.

    But you’re due for good cards. Really. Come back tomorrow night, you’re going to get those pocket aces if you just keep trying. Probability and chance really does work that way. Really.

    (We need a smiley for super-sweetly innocent smiles… ;) )

  51. I predict an easy sweep for LA and that LeBron comes hopping onto court and jumps into Kobe’s arms in game four celebration

  52. RE: 52

    I thought the Lakers would easily sweep Houston…and that didn’t work out…

    I don’t like the fact that everyone is picking the Lakers – that always seems to be when they perform their poorest…

    Another part of me thinks that Cleveland was able to open up big leads, and then watch as Orlando made up huge chunks of ground with 3 pointers (as Cleveland went cold on offense).

    It seems to me a simple game plan would be: chase Orlando off the three point line…whether you’re down by 10, up 10, up by 20, or up by 30.

  53. By the way, Dex, you’re a college literature professor, right?

    Your blog is fantastic, by the way! Takes me back to college when I used to be smart…

  54. This is somewhat of an aside, but just wanted to ask a quick question. Am I remembering correctly that Kobe actively encouraged the Lakers to leave the court w/o congratulating the Suns after Game 7 in 06?

    I thought I remembered that happening and am surprised it’s not being brought up with the recent Lebron issue and the perpetual Kobe/Lebron comparisons…

  55. Here’s to the should Fish retain his starting guard position?

    Yes, he should! Neigh, he must! No team in history has won a championship by getting to the finals and switching the point guard position, without an injury existing. It would be suicide to contemplate such a move now.

    In the 2006 game against Phoenix did the Lakers bench Smush Parker and start Jordan Farmar in his place? If so, remember how that turned out!

    No respectable coach is going to bench his starting pg in the finals. Shorten his minutes, yes, but not bench them and go with an unproven guard. Sorry, but Farmar and Brown are unproven. Starting and coming in off the bench are two different mind sets. Obviously, Farmar does not possess what it takes to start, or he would have wrenched that position away from Fisher this season. Brown, has potential with his size and athleticism, however, he would handicap the starters with his lack of triangle knowledge.

    Here’s to the Lakers dismantling the Magic in 5 (I’m lifting a glass of Merlot)!!!

  56. If Nelson comes back, he won’t be in game shape. His impact should be minimal at best. See Ariza’s struggles last year.

    I just can’t see why Orlando would think it wise to rush this guy back. It’s not as though they’ve played like crap in recent weeks as he’s been away. I smell gamesmanship, but whatever…

    Also, I noted this a couple of days ago but the Lakers had neither Farmar (knee injury) nor Brown (still a Bobcat) available at the times they played Orlando this season.

    Their presence should have a positive impact on the Lakers ability to slow down Orlando’s 1s, be it Nelson or Alston.

    Neither Farmar nor Brown is a shut-down guy on his own, but they’d each have something more to contribute than simply expecting Fish and Sasha to be the primary defenders checking every small guard Orlando trots out. Four is better than two in terms of fatigue, different looks, etc.


  57. We often overlook him because he’s always great, but there are degrees of greatness and we need Game 6 against Denver Kobe, and not 2008 Boston Kobe.”

    I wouldnt mind the Kobe from game 3 of the boston series (2008 finals)

    i would LOVE to see the kobe from game 4 of the 2001 sacramento series, or game 5 of the 2008 spurs series, or game 6 of the 2006 suns sereis, or game 1 of the 2001 spurs series, or game 3 of the nuggets series, or game 3 of the sixers 2001 finals

    etc haha

  58. We are so much better with odom or Farmar/Brown (or best of all: BOTH) on the court with Kobe and Gasol becasue it gives us added weapons that can create offense for themselves and others

    Ariza makes us better because he is roleplayer extraordinaire, like a young shawn marion that can shoot

    not to say fisher and bynum dont/cant help, because they can and WILL and could be HUGE for this series if put in position to succeed and we definitely need both of them, they both can THRIVE in THEIR ROLE.

    Bynum is needed to match up Howard, and Fisher for his experience and calming influence (think JKidd of the olympic team despite being clearly subpar to CP3 and DWill, still came up huge in the argentina game when everything got all hectic. Why? Experience, calming influence, restoring order, WINNER. Thats fisher, there is a reason Phil been starting him over the Brown and Farmar combination that he is clearly subpar to as a player at this point)

  59. Fantastic job, Reed.

    What I do want to see though is how LA plays Rashard and Hedo.

    I doubt they’ll be making changes on Howard (single-coverage), but Lewis and Turkoglu together with Pietrus on the sideline is a great problem for me.

    If you’re the Lakers, do you take the risk of overplaying Lewis or Turkoglu and let Pietrus shoot the three, or you play one-on-one defense and take the risk of Alston (guarded by Fisher) collapsing the defense by going to the lane and distribute to whoever that guy is.

  60. I can’t imagine Nelson coming back frm a labrum tear that fast. This Thursday is 15 weeks from when he had his surgery (2/19). I had to have my shoulder reconstructed 2 years ago (torn rotator cuff + torn labrum), and you don’t even start even the most basic of PT until 6 weeks post-op, which means that he has only been rehabbing his shoulder for 9 weeks. It took me 5 months post-surgery before I even felt like my shoulder was sound, and another month after that before I felt like the strength was back, so I don’t see how effective he’s going to be.

    And even if his shoulder is sound, no way is he going to be game speed-ready.

  61. Birdman,
    I can’t see Phil varying too much from what works for him. Ariza on Hedo straight up, with Kobe occasionally alternating with him. Fish won’t play all that many minutes so I see both Farmar and Shanwow on Alston in relief of Fish. Bynum on Howard for as long as he can stay in, then Pau – so it is Pau/Lamar on Lewis.

    The Lakers will rely on their experience with both each other and the Finals.

    Kobe is going to be super focused for the entire series – no plays off – he wants it that much. Therefore, we don’t talk about him much, as he is going to fill in where ever needed and the really experienced watchers will comment on how he is at a different level from all the other players on the floor – even if he isn’t scoring that much.

  62. Mason wrote on June 2, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Does anybody know what kind of labrum tear Nelson had? Reports at the time indicated that he had a dislocation as well. If that’s true, he probably had a a Bankart Leison repair surgery on Feb 19, which has a six month recovery period. It’s not all that negotiable, because the surgery repairs the repairs inate or induced (via the injury) instabillity in the shoulder. Assuming about a one month immobilization period and the atrophy that goes with it, he’s only been in PT for about a month restoring the soft tissue that holds the shoulder together.

    Coming back too soon is a really, really bad idea, because if you hit, say, a blindside pick or a your arm gets wrenched the wrong way in a scramble for the ball, your shoulder pops out, takes your newly repaired labrum with it, and puts you back under the bright lights of the OR.

    This has got to be a ploy, right?”

    Dwyane Wade returned from a torn labrum after missing 30 games in the 2006-07 playoffs, and it threw off the heat’s chemistry, wade was nowhere near the same player that he was before injury (led league in per that year with a 29.6 before injury, finished with 29.1 after playing the last 7 games of the season after returning, and had a 15.1 per in the bulls series 4 games, they got swept)

    its possible but not a good idea. If Dwyane Wade couldnt pull it off, Jameer definitely cant. Then again Jameer is gonna be off the bench and Wade went back to “go-to-guy” status, and even worse: it screwed up Wade for the next year and delayed his recovery, causing a 15 win season for the HEAT in 07-08 with a banged up Wade not able to carry them like he had preinjury (and did this year now that he’s back to normal superduperstar self)

    In short: I aint worried about Nelson. Anyone thats tried it before didnt turn out too good, including a guy as great as Dwyane Wade.

    Michael Jordan tried to come back after missing a year of game, and he was nowhere near himself either.

    Jameer wont be the same Jameer. Regardless.

  63. Wouldnt it be nice to see Kobe dominate the finals like he did that series against the spurs in 2001?

  64. I agree Kobe will be Kobe.
    Experience will prove much, but the question is, how much?

    Will we see Jekyll and Hyde again?
    Because the way these Magic are playing, every error/mental lapse will prove costly.
    You have to play a perfect team game, because we’ve seen it against the Cavs-Magic series, one amazing man is just one amazing man, and can never, will never, shall never, win a series.

  65. Working on the Lakers defense post (later tonight, early tomorrow) and regarding the covering of Hedo/Lewis. One advantage of the Gasol/Ariza/Odom/Kobe grouping is they can switch a lot of the picks that are set. That is a huge advantage, something the Lakers could not do a lot of in other series were a small PG was running the offense. I think they want to make Hedo the shooter when he does drive, not the passer. Don’t let him set his feet and shoot threes, but if he is shooting runners in the lane, that you can live with.

  66. Re the perfect team game – didnt’ we see that in Game 6 of the WCF? We know that the Lakers are capable of playing it. What we don’t know is if they can duplicate that effort 4 more times in the next 7 games.

    But I don’t really think the perfect team game is needed. Just a more rounded, inside-outside team game. The points raised earlier about the Magic more or less skating through a front-line deficient Eastern Conference are valid. Boston was missing its top two PFs and still stretched them to 7. Cleveland has no post presence whatsoever, and could have won that series in 4 if the ball had bounced a bit differently in two of those games (and just as easily could have lost in 4, of course).

  67. As an unabashed (most of the time) Kobe fan, I want to see a 50~80 pt outburst that end up in a Lakers victory.

    If that happens to be in game 7, I’d happily trade a couple years of my life to see it, as stupid as that sounds.

    Seriously though, the matchup presents all sorts of problems for us, but then again, it isn’t as if we were blown out in the previous meetings.

    And… it is entirely possible for every game to be close, but still end up in a dominating game count, 4-0, 4-1, etc.

    Problem being that it could go either way…

  68. Birdman,
    I wasn’t referring to Kobe-being-Kobe. I was saying Kobe will do whatever is necessary to win the game. That is no at all the same thing as Kobe will score. Kobe’s goal is to win – period. It really doesn’t matter how much he scores, if his team wins. He will draw the defense, he will play decoy, he will pick out the open man, he will disrupt Howard’s dribble. He will do anything to win this series.

    The key is that he is smart enough, skilled enough, and experienced enough to get this done. That is the beauty of having Kobe Bryant on your side. He will make the game much easier for all of his teammates. What he requests from them is concentration and intelligent play – that is why I have some fear about Lamar.

  69. whoops my bad. article was already posted :D Kurt, please feel free to remove my last two comments!

  70. Well said Craig W. Kobe will win by any means necessary!!! He does not know if fate will be kind and give him another opportunity to win one before he retires, so now is the time!

  71. The keys for me is for Gasol and Odom to stay out of foul trouble. Also, Fisher has to be hitting his jumper to keep the defense honest so that they don’t collapse on Kobe.

    On defense, we cannot leave Pietrius open for those corner threes and we absolutely have to box out. If they get 2nd and 3rd shot opportunities we’re in trouble.

  72. As far as I’m aware, Wade came back that quickly because he chose to postpone surgery. I don’t remember if Nelson had surgery or not, but if he did, it’s a different timetable for return.

  73. Lebron had surgery to remove some kind of growth in his mouth.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4226010

  74. Obama picks Lakers in 6.

    Hey, he was right about NC. Go 2 for 2 Prez!

  75. Snoopy-
    Nelson went under the knife on 2/19/09.

  76. Mason – Thanks. Theoretically his conditioning should be even more off with surgery, but we’ll see.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/scott_howard-cooper/06/01/finals.storylines/index.html?eref=T1

    Good read. This line shocked me a bit, and saddened me because it could possibly be true: Unlikely or not…these could be the final games for one of the all-time great coaches.

    Phil’s health isn’t great. You never know. I’ve been exasperated with some of his recent moves, but I love the guy as much as the next Lakers fan. If he goes out, let’s hope he goes out with a bang. A good one.

  77. Now is Kobe’s time. With 3 more rings, he moves from outside the Top 10 all-time to inside the Top 3.

  78. Sportsguy Hate June 2, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I’m a little concerned of Lamar’s candy addiction.

    ..and Kobe Doin’ Work was really boring.

  79. I think that if PJ gets his 10th ring he will retire for sure and he may do that anyway, but he did say at one point that he would finish his contact though. So, I am going to really enjoy this Finals experience like no other.

  80. LeBron removing ‘benign growth’ from his ‘mouth’ made me chuckle for no good reason.

    Maybe it was because of the ‘hype’ that grew and his refusal to ‘talk’ after the game, but I just saw it oddly funny.

    Finals should start. I’m losing my mind.

  81. http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-lebron060109&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    On another note, this is as vicious an article Woj has written for quite a while. He’s right though — no one in Cleveland has the guts to call him out for anything.

  82. Peanut Butter Spread June 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    BCR-

    Yeah, for once Woj wrote an article that I agreed with, but then he had to follow that with another crap article:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AkbqzjA55dnatnHtgsTlZrrTjdIF?slug=aw-shaqmagic060209&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    I mean, I guess we should have all seen this coming.

    but seriously, why drag Shaq into this series?! It’s absolutely ridiculous! The storyline is tired, old, and dragged out.

    But I guess, it was to be expected.

  83. I haven’t seen a good interview like this from Phil this year, check it out amigos:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjtgjhmUWv0&feature=fvsr

  84. @79 Jon

    Top-3? Wow. I’m not sure he lands top three Lakers all time let alone the whole NBA. Magic was every bit as special as Kobe. Cap still leads Kobe in plenty of stats and got 6 rings. Shaq was every bit as dominant as LeBron is today but has his 4 rings and 6 total appearances. Wilt changed what we expected from big-men and the game in general. I can see Kobe as clearly ahead of West and Baylor but I wonder if some of the old-timers might correct me on that. Those are just Lakers.

    All that aside, lets watch Kobe secure his place as an NBA winner and the rest of our boys get over the hump.

  85. I’m really worried about this series, y’all. I really don’t want to meet defeat in the Finals two years in a row. I guess life will go on, but I will be bitterly disappointed for a long time.

    Like many of you, just looking at Orlando’s team gives me flashbacks to last year’s Finals, especially because once again a lot of people are picking the Lakers to win (although many of them add the caveat: “it could go either way”). Do you guys think that the fact that we’ve been there before and lost–and our personnel has remained consistent–will give us the edge in the series, because our guys will be hungrier? Whereas Orlando might just be happy to be there — they’re still riding high from winning a series no one expected them to win, and they’re primed for a letdown.

    Re: HCA – given the Finals format, is it much more crucial for the home team to go up 2-0? So that they give themselves a bit of breathing room heading into 3 games on the road.

    Also, is it just me or is everyone all of a sudden rooting for this “charming” Magic team to beat the Lakers? Meh, I guess if I weren’t a Lakers fan, I’d probably root for them, too.

  86. Top 3s a little high, you’re right. But you can make the case that Kobe with 6 rings is Top 5 in the history of the NBA- there has never been a perimeter scorer like him. With 7 rings (the next 4- being optimistic about Bynum’s development), the Top 3 argument becomes valid as well.

    MJ- 6 rings, insane stats
    Wilt- 50 ppg, 20 rpg in a season? thats nuts
    Kobe
    Magic, Larry, Russell (the greatest champion of them all but played in a time of inferior athletes), Kareem, Timmy, Shaq

  87. Emma, you were always the word of hope and like a cheerleader for us, have faith in the Lakers and enjoy the games to be played. Off to my finals in the morning, oh well.

  88. If kobe somehow got 3 more rings hes definitely top 3 all time.

    2 completely different teams w/ 3 rings a piece.

    Outscoring a team for 3 quarters
    81 pt game
    Breaking the record for 3′s in a game
    56 points vs memphis midway thru third quarter
    The 60 pt gameSSS
    The 40+ pt streak
    The 35 ppg season
    The 4 game stretch of 50+
    All these offensive outbursts while still being put on the all-defensive teams… The only thing kobe is missing are big moments he has big games. He needs to hit a few game winners/buzzer beaters.

  89. harold wrote on June 2, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    As an unabashed (most of the time) Kobe fan, I want to see a 50~80 pt outburst that end up in a Lakers victory.

    If that happens to be in game 7, I’d happily trade a couple years of my life to see it, as stupid as that sounds.”

    Im with ya harold

    Problem is: If Kobe has a 50 point game it will most likely result in a magic win.

    Not because “we’re better when kobe shoots less” or any of htat garbage, Kobe should just play his game and be aggressive, if that ends up in 25 shots or 5 shots so be it

    But because thats the magic gameplan, to let one guy get off and sucked into doing it all himself while shutting down and making the rest of the team irrelevant

    And it works: Kobe dropped 43 against em and we lost. Wade dropped 50 against em and lost by 20. Dropped 45the next time and lost again. And we all seen what Lebron did in 3 of the losses (49, 44, 43 points, respectively) to the magic

    Kobe cant get sucked into that fools gold

  90. Also, is it just me or is everyone all of a sudden rooting for this “charming” Magic team to beat the Lakers? Meh, I guess if I weren’t a Lakers fan, I’d probably root for them, too.

    It’s not just you. The Lakers are a polarizing team like that. There’s probably a lot of people here who would root for any other team in the league if they face the Celtics. Though technically we would not be rooting for the Spurs or whoever, we would be rooting against the Celtics, and that’s probably what all the newcomers on the Magic bandwagon are doing. They’re rooting against the Lakers.

    Personally, I’ll root for the team that knocked mine out, if that had happened. If we’re going to lose to anyone, it better be the Champions. Or, as is the case this year, we’ll hopefully become the champions.

    Tomorrow nights seems so far, far away.

  91. Mimsy, I with you on both counts. Every morning for the past few days has been agonizing for me because I’ve realized how far away Thursday is.

  92. 85. Was that interview by Phil prophecy or what. If you listen carefully he talks about luck (trevors 2 steals), he talks about playing as a team one time and getting inspired to do it again (Games 5 and 6 of the denver series) and so on. He started coaching from the playoffs in the regular season, thats what i love about Phil. Its always about the bigger picture. Thursday cant come any sooner.

  93. Emma: I’m as apprehensive as you are. Worse, I think the “experience” and “you must lose before you can win one” thing are total b.s. Last year’s Celts did not need to lose first before winning (though they had a lot of veterans experienced with losing). Experience is a double edged sword and can work against you just as much as for you: you are saddled both with higher expectations and the traumatizing memory of wrenching losses.

    What’s scary about the Magic is not only are they the toughest match-ups for us this post season but mentally they’ve been arguably the more resilient and consistent team. Until the last 2 games vs Denver, the Lakers had been as Kobe said bipolar. You never know what you’re going to get from the Lakers as a team and they seem to be susceptible to fear and self doubt. The Magic OTOH, are not scared of anybody. They don’t get fazed by anything. Game 7 at Boston? Feh. MVP and best home record? We’ll take game 1 and (almost) game 2, thank you. Blowing 10 pts lead late in the 4th? Losing last second buzzer beater? They just bounce right back. Their coach may or may not be the master of panic, but the Magic are sort of Zen, not by training but by natural inclination. They’re sort of the idiot savants of zendom.

    And I don’t think they’ll be just happy to be there, either. They weren’t just happy to make it to the ECF, even though most people thought they’d done well to get there. No, sometimes teams win despite not really expecting or wanting it, and sometimes they lose expecting and wanting too much (Giants vs Patriots).

    I think the 2 things we have in our favor: HCA and the K factor. We have a guy capable of playing on a different level than everyone else on court. We need him not so much to score a ton of points but to make everyone play better (although the two aren’t mutually exclusive). We need WCF game 5 and 6 Kobe. do it 4 more times, Black Mamba!

  94. #49, #51

    Not exactly. The action in dice and cards are independent probability events. Shooting the ball is not. If Pau shoots his first 2 free throws short. He is likely to adjust by bending deeper and/or stronger follow-through. Pau’s actions governing his third and fourth shots are influenced by the results of his first and second foul shots.

    Sometimes when Kobe shoots poorly for the game he goes back to the gym that night to put in extra practice. Craig Hodges might be there to coach Kobe and work on mechanics. This has an impact on Kobe’s shooting the next game. Kobe’s results in game2 are dependent on the actions he takes as a result of game 1.

    This phenomena where there is an immediate feed-back to action and where the actor can influence the results is more like “Conditional Probability” statistically speaking; the past does influence the future, and not at all like flipping a coin.

  95. Bill, you’re right on about the definition of probability. The fact is that there is real concept of “due” or “probability”, it’s more a matter of adjustment. Shots aren’t “bound to go in” unless you explicitly do something that guarantees the outcome. The same argument applies to the ideas of energy and experience in this series. The Lakers aren’t more probable to play better because of experience and the Magic aren’t more probable to play better because of the energy of the Finals (or getting Jameer Nelson back). It all comes down to putting those concepts to work.

    On a separate note, props to Kurt for leading the Truehoop Stat Geek Smackdown. I’m looking forward to a Lakers guy taking home the crown.

  96. As an old-timer I want to say something about the athletes of the 60s (Russell, Chamberlain, West, Baylor, Oscar). These people weren’t worse athletes – heck Wilt was also a track and field guy and anybody remember Jim Brown – but they did play in a different time. There was a lot less money and there was no free agency. For Bill Russell, that meant he got to play with the same, top tier, athletes every year. Wilt went for the money (similar to Shaq), so he almost always was surrounded by lesser athletes. I can’t say too much about the others, except they kept running up against the Celtics and the Celtics didn’t give away any of their players until they couldn’t play any more.

  97. 55: It was possible that Kobe didn’t act very sportsmanlike in that series back in 2006. But that was 3 years, people *grow* up in a sense. Kobe needed that time to know he wasn’t going to win being a one-man show especially with his help on the team. But I think I remember CLEARLY Kobe getting blasted by the media for a lot of things cause of the blowout ending of that game. Conduct might have been another thing they were piling on him.

    That’s in the past. I think so far since, Kobe has proven he take it with the best of them, not to mention last year was probably the worst to take for losing.

    Bye.

  98. lakers will win this series and here are the reasons why I think they will do it. Lakers have the best player on the planet,people may argue about Lebron but who is playing in the finals? Kobe..Second the magig dont have anybody that can match with Pau Gasol .Another reason is that Lakers have bodies to ban with howard they have Bynun and MBenga as the last resortLakers have experience these players have been there before the magic dont have anybody ..The Finals are a different story than playooffs games and Finally lakers defense . The defense has been terrific and people have not give them any credit yet. Reality is overlakers will win it