May 14, 2010

Cavs Celtics: Beyond the Box Score

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 11:11 pm

Props to the Celtics for a truly great performance in their upset of the Cavs. The Celtics played (after adjusting for strength of opponent) 18 points (per 48 minutes) better than average while the Cavs played only 2 points better than average.

Here is a summary of how key lineups played in the series. For example, Cavs lineup #2 played great (28 points better than average per 48 minutes after adjusting for strength of opponents faced, +11 points total).  This lineup was great during the regular season. So why did the starting lineup play much more than Lineup 2 (98 minutes)  when it was clobbered by 17 points? The only real mistake the Celtics made was continually playing lineup #2 when it kept getting destroyed.


    1  R. Allen    Garnett     Perkins     Pierce      Rondo         18.46   116.87  CLE  BOS*      4.93    12        1810_BOS_2010

    2  T. Allen    R. Allen    Davis       Rondo       Wallace      -38.98    20.72  CLE  BOS*    -50.94   -22        9227_BOS_2010

    3  R. Allen    Garnett     Pierce      Rondo       Wallace       25.84    17.04  CLE  BOS*      8.42     3        9746_BOS_2010

    4  T. Allen    Davis       Pierce      Rondo       Wallace       58.97    13.15  CLE  BOS*     43.79    12        9737_BOS_2010

    5  R. Allen    Davis       Garnett     Pierce      Rondo         -0.04    12.48  CLE  BOS*    -15.39    -4        1562_BOS_2010

    6  T. Allen    R. Allen    Garnett     Perkins     Rondo         -2.30    11.20  CLE  BOS*    -17.16    -4        1299_BOS_2010

    7  T. Allen    Davis       Rondo       Wallace     Finley        73.65     8.26  CLE  BOS*     69.68    12      140297_BOS_2010


    1  James       O’Neal      Parker      M. Williams Jamison        2.37    97.79  BOS  CLE*     -8.34   -17       82720_CLE_2010

    2  James       Parker      Varejao     M. Williams Jamison       28.26    28.06  BOS  CLE*     18.83    11       84512_CLE_2010

    3  James       Parker      Varejao     West        Jamison       11.26    13.94  BOS  CLE*      6.89     2       72224_CLE_2010

    4  Hickson     James       West        M. Williams Jamison       26.74    13.74  BOS  CLE*     20.97     6       86052_CLE_2010

    5  James       O’Neal      West        M. Williams Jamison        1.61    10.43  BOS  CLE*     -9.19    -2       86304_CLE_2010

    6  Hickson     James       Varejao     West        M. Williams    4.17     8.77  BOS  CLE*      0.00     0       22564_CLE_2010

    7  Ilgauskas   James       Varejao     West        M. Williams  -26.04     8.63  BOS  CLE*    -33.42    -6       22568_CLE_2010

    8  James       Varejao     West        M. Williams Jamison       20.23     7.51  BOS  CLE*     12.79     2       88096_CLE_2010

    9  James       O’Neal      Parker      West        Jamison       14.58     6.68  BOS  CLE*     -0.05     0       70432_CLE_2010

   10  Hickson     James       Parker      Varejao     West         -59.52     6.36  BOS  CLE*    -60.34    -8        6692_CLE_2010



Key Observations on the Series

·        Rondo’s domination of Parker was a key to the Celtic’s series win. In 169 minutes when James, Rondo and Parker were in the Celtics were +18 points, but when Rondo and James were in and Parker was out the Celtics were down 6 points in 66 minutes.

·        Although Pierce did not shoot well, his defense on the King was vital. In 192 minutes with James and Pierce on the court the Celtics were +32 points but when James was in with Pierce out for 62 minutes the Celtics got beat by 16 points!

·        The unsung hero was Tony Allen. In 52 minutes with Tony in and Ray Allen out the Celtics were an amazing +42 points. Big Z, AV, and James countered Tony well (+6 points in 9 minutes) but the rest of the time Tony destroyed the Cavs.

·        All season the Cavs were better with small ball. This series was no exception. James and AV in without Shaq:  109 minutes +7 points, played 9 points per game better than average. Shaq and James in AV out: 117 minutes -20 points, played 3 points better than average. So why not try more small ball?

·        The Cavs continually used the starting lineup, even though it continued to perform poorly.  Here are some other combos that worked well (besides lineup #2).

1.     West, Williams and James (with Big Z out): 48 minutes, +13 points, played 19 points better than average.

 2. Moon. AV, James, with West or Williams and a 5th of Z or Jamison: 12 minutes +15 points!

 Impact Ratings

    Our impact ratings summarize how a team’s chance of winning  (after adjusting for the other 9 players on the court)  changes when a player is in. Thus garbage time (like the end of games 3 and 5) has little impact on Impact rating. For the last 5 games of the series Shaq had a horrible impact (-72%). Jamison -52% also had a very poor impact. Varaejo, on the other hand had a much better (although still bad) Impact rating of -28%. This means the games really turned against the Cavs much more with Shaq in than AV in: another argument for more small ball!. For the Celtics there were many stars but top Impact ratings go to Pierce +65%, Rasheed +56%, Tony Allen +43%, and Rondo +38%.

We hope our observations shed some light on this amazing piece of NBA history.







  1. so even though Shaq’s individual stats looked ok – especially in Game 6 – his presence hurt the team it sounds like. kind of the exact opposite of what Grizz fans hope for Thabeet’s presence! (better team, even though his individual stats may never be allstar numbers)

    Comment by vanjulio — May 16, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

  2. Wayne,

    1. Did Bill Simmons ever respond to you? As a Celts fan, he’s been very critical of Rasheed Wallace, and it seems that your analysis seems to back up Sheed’s play. What are your thoughts on the matchup vs. the Magic?

    2. Any chance the Suns can beat the Lakers? The Suns looked pretty good, but the Spurs weren’t a formidable opponent. In my opinion, the Suns have a stronger bench, but what do the numbers say?


    Comment by Mike — May 16, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

  3. Bill never responded. I think Suns will beat Lakers. I will post on this tomorrow

    Comment by wwinston — May 16, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  4. Thabeet is going to be a good player. Do not worry!

    Comment by wwinston — May 16, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  5. Magic in 5

    Comment by wwinston — May 16, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

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