From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Following Monday’s win over Orlando, Kobe Bryant was asked if he’s paid attention to the teams the Lakers are chasing in the standings. “Not really. We’re just playing,” he said. “Just playing and doing what we need to do. We just want to go into the playoffs, play good basketball, execute, try to minimize mistakes.” So far, so good. Stay focused on what you’re doing, right? Control that which can be controlled. He continued. “Home court advantage to me is overrated.” Hmmm…. While I have no idea if Kobe has had problems with his TPS reports of late, I’m going to have to go ahead and sort of disagree with him, there. History does, too. Statistically speaking, the home team has a major advantage in the NBA playoffs. Via ESPN Stats and Information: SERIES WON BY TEAM WITH HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE, since 1983-84 (when the NBA went to a 16-team format):
First Round: 166-50 (.769)
Conference Semifinals: 85-23 (.787)
Conference Finals: 37-17 (.685)
NBA Finals: 21-6 (.778)
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Phil Jackson began the Lakers’ four-game trip through San Antonio, Atlanta, Miami and Dallas by telling his team that it could “easily” be 0-4 when it was over. Instead, Kobe Bryant was boasting by the end: “It was a statement for us.” The Lakers went 3-1, unable to hold their lead in Miami to make it perfect against four of the league’s best teams, but they weren’t complaining. Bryant was so determined to avoid it being a 2-2 trip that he implored his teammates before the last game in Dallas on Saturday to realize the Mavericks are a “serious contender.” “This is a team that could beat us in the postseason,” Bryant told his Lakers teammates, who came through with a victory even though Bryant sprained his left ankle.
From Gil Merkin, Silver Screen and Roll: With all this talk of “advanced statistics” lately with the MIT Sloan Analytics conference, and the rising use of individual basketball statistics in everyday basketball arguments, I feel I must re-emphasize my position. The way individual basketball statistics are kept do not make sense. What is a made basket in basketball? It can be a highly individual campaign, fully crafted by one player. Or it can be a “made” by two players, half made by the assisting player, and the other half crediting to the scorer for making the shot. So far so good. Solo points made get credited to the scorer, and an assist given to the passer. Great. But, what if there were three players involved in making that basket happen? If you know how basketball works, you know this happens pretty frequently. What if there are four players that contributed? You can have up to ten players (rarely), including the defenders, involved the making of a basket. And the same goes for a missed shot! Yet when a player makes a basket, he gets all the credit, and every one else on the court gets zero, except maybe for the passer, who gets an assist. And the allocation can change for every basket depending on how it was created. This is an allocation problem, and it’s a huge problem in individual basketball statistics. The same thing goes for rebounds and steals!
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: We’ve been doing a whole lot of praise singing for Andrew Bynum over the last couple of weeks. He’s been the primary subject of a vast majority of our game recaps, editorials, Player of the Week awards, and comments. There’s no doubt Drew has earned some time in the spotlight because his play since the All Star Break has been inspired, but one can’t help but wonder if we, as a blog and as a fanbase, are going a bit overboard. I mean, sure we can see how Drew is changing games with his defense and rebounding. We know his stat line of 12 points, 13 boards and 2.6 blocks per game is pretty much exactly what the Lakers dream of getting from Bynum on a team that is not short on offensive talent. We can be proud of the fact that AB is finally reveling in his role as anchor of the defense. But just how much effect, actual measureable effect, is Bynum really having on his team’s play? Sure, all the blocks and rebounds he is accumulating are highly visible, and we know that the Lakers defense has been much improved since the All-Star break, but how much of that is actually due to Bynum’s presence on the floor? Does his newfound dominance in our hearts match any kind of newfound dominance on the stat sheet, outside of his increased individual numbers?
From Lisa Dillman, LA Times: There was no self-promoting going on seven years ago, not a single news release when four NBA players got together to help pay for a life-saving operation for their mentor and coach. “They were not seeking attention,” Kim Hughes said Tuesday. “Clearly they did it for the right reasons. When I first had the surgery, I didn’t know what they had done until my wife, Christy, told me. I was totally shocked.” Hughes, the former Clippers assistant coach, was talking about current Clippers center Chris Kaman and his then-teammates Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and Marko Jaric. The players helped cover an out-of-network procedure after Hughes was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The news only just came to light a day ago in the Racine Journal Times in a feature about Maggette, who is now with the Milwaukee Bucks, and the newspaper quoted Hughes as saying the operation cost $70,000.