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Dumpy's Statistical Analysis - Round 1, Game 1

Playoffs Round One
Game One

Indiana at New Jersey, April 24, 2006
Score: Indiana 90, New Jersey 88

We're back with a statistical analysis of Game One of the first round of the playoffs.

Player Min. Efficiency Plus-Minus
Vince Carter 41.7 30 -4
Richard Jefferson 40.7 18 +5
Jason Kidd 40.4 9 -1
Nenad Krstic 39.6 24 -1
Jason Collins 33.1 8 -1
Clifford Robinson 23.2 5 -2
Jacque Vaughn 13.5 3 -1
Lamond Murray 7.7 0 -5

Plus-Minus Rating. The plus-minus rating is a way to measure each player's combined offensive and defensive total contribution to the team. Two simple examples will show how this works. In the game above, Richard Jefferson earned a +5 rating. What that means is that, during the 40.7 minutes when RJ was on the floor, the Nets outscored Indiana by a total of 5 points—hence the +5 rating. In Vince Carters' case, his -4 rating indicates that in the time he was on the court, the Nets were outscored by four points. We can also measure plus-minus based on two-man combos, three-man combos, 5-man combos, etc., which can enable us to identify groups of players that play exceptionally well or poorly together. Data on 5-man combinations can help us identify the players that contribute the least or the most to team success by comparing different combinations that differ by one player. For instance, if we know that, over the course of the season, a unit consisting of [Kidd, Carter, RJ, Collins and Krstic] outscored its opponent by a greater margin than a unit consisting of [Kidd, Carter, RJ, Jackson and Krstic] in the same number of minutes, then we can generally conclude that Collins added more to the team success than did Jackson. The data relied upon here comes from the web site, and may include minor computational errors.

Efficiency Rating. The "efficiency" stat purports to calculate how much a player contributes to the team, based solely on traditional box-score statistics. Specifically, the "efficiency" measurement is defined as ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) - ((Field Goals Att. - Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. - Free Throws Made) + Turnovers)). You can think of this stat as basically [good stuff] minus [bad stuff]. For a matter of scale, the highest efficiency rating attained in a single game this season was +70, by Kobe Bryant in his 81-point game. On a per-game basis, the true stars generally had efficiency ratings between 20 and 30 over the course of the season.

Not much to note here. We can see that only one Net was plus (Jefferson), and only one bordered on bad (Lamond Murray). Other than that, nothing stands out froom the individual numbers.

As we have done in the past, let's look how the starters performed as a unit:

Unit Stint Min. Plus-Minus
Starting Five (Nets) 1 (1st Quarter) 9.1 +1
2 (2nd Quarter) 1.3 +2
3 (3rd Quarter) 8.4 +4
4 (4th Quarter) 4.2 -3
TOTAL 23.0 +4

Once again, I broke out the starting unit's performance by each instance they played together. With a +4 in 23 minutes of play, we can see that the Nets' problem was not the play of the starting unit. For comparison, let's look at how Indiana's starting five performed while playing together:

Unit Stint Min. Plus-Minus
Starting Five (Pacers) 1 (1st Quarter) 8.1 -1
2 (2nd Quarter) 3.0 +4
2 (2nd Quarter) 1.1 -1
TOTAL 12.2 +2

Also fairly successful. The big difference is obviously the number of minutes played, mostly due to Jermaine O'Neal's foul trouble.

The TNT announcers praised the work of Jacque Vaughn, especially when he was on the court with Jason Kidd, which they called the Nets' "best" defensive alignment. We've seen above that overall Vaughn earned a –1 rating in 13.5 minutes. How did the Nets perform when Kidd and Vaughn were on the court together?

Kidd & Vaughn plus: Min. Plus-Minus
Carter, Robinson, Krstic 0.7 +2
Carter Collins, Krstic 1.7 -4
Carter Robinson, Collins 1.4 +2
Robinson, Jefferson, Collins 3.1 +1
Robinson, Jefferson, Krstic 0.2 -1
TOTAL 7.1 +0

We can see that five different combinations were used involving both Kidd and Vaughn, and, surprisingly, each was used just once. Incidentally, the first two combinations listed were used consecutively, and were the only times Vaughn was on the court at the same time as Indiana's starting five. You can see that the Vaughn-Kidd combo was a –2 overall in 2.4 minutes against the Pacer starters. The last three combinations listed occurred consecutively to start the fourth quarter.

One other combination of note: Bridging the first/second and third/fourth quarters, the Nets used a unit consisting of Collins, Robinson, Vaughn, Murray, and either Carter or Jefferson. Combined, that foursome earned a –5 rating in 5.2 minutes. That includes a +3 rating during the 1.6 minutes when the foursome played with RJ. Anyway, before his injury, Antoine Wright had exhibited success playing with the second unit during those times of the game. Had Wright and his strong defensive play been available for Game One, it may have turned the tide. Let's hope for his quick return to the lineup!