Playoffs Round One - Game Two
Indiana at New Jersey, April 25, 2006
Score: New Jersey 90, Indiana 75
Before the start of this series, several pundits predicted that the winner would be "first team to 85." After two games, we can see that they were off by five points. I seldom make my own predictions, but here's one that I'm pretty comfortable with: The winner of every Nets playoff game will not finish with exactly 90 points. Here's the thing, though: I'm pretty sure that the Pacers will not be able to score 90 points against the Nets defense on a consistent basis, so if it will take a minimum of 90 to win, this series should be over fairly quickly and painlessly. Other than that, I'm not prepared to guess what will happen, other than to state with certainty that, as always, you will be able to read all about it here on NetsDaily.com. While I'm on the subject, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank NetsDaily management for providing an outlet for my analyses, and not firing me for my, um, "vacation."
Here are the numbers for Game Two:
Note that for the playoffs, I have begun to sort these charts in descending order of minutes played, which is a change from the way I did it during the season. For a description of what these numbers mean, I'll refer new readers to the numerical analysis of the first game in the Indiana series. I'll probably repeat the explanation every few games, if only to pad my word count.
I agonized all night about this, but in the end I decided against listing the four reserves that played the final 45 seconds of the game. Sorry, guys, but I have to have some standards, even if they are completely arbitrary. For the record, Zoran Planinic, Antoine Wright, Bostjan Nachbar, and Scott Padgett each finished with a –1 rating. Hopefully this was just the start for Wright, as he continues to recover from his recent injury.
There is a clear separation in plus-minus ratings among both the starters and the reserves. This is mostly due to timing; Kidd, RJ, and Cliff were on the court at the start of the fourth quarter, when Indiana went on a quick 9-0 run. Carter sat out, and Krstic took a breather for the first six of those points. Leaving aside that short stretch, the plus-minus numbers are fairly consistent across the board.
Here are the totals after two games:
Looks like Uncle Cliffy is on his way to buying the team drinks as the low man on the ledger. I can't really get down on Cliff, though. We're about the same age, and I don't think there's anything in this world I can do that would rate higher than a –6 when scaled against 20-somethings. Well, other than procrastinate, I mean. I'm a world-class procrastinator.
Here's a look at how the starters performed as a unit:
|Starting Five (Nets)||1 (1st Quarter)||5.6||+3|
|2 (3rd Quarter)||9.9||+9|
|3 (4th Quarter)||3.6||-2|
Once again, I broke out the starting unit's performance by each instance they played together. A +10 rating in just 19.1 minutes of play against a quality opponent is pretty impressive, regardless of whether it occurs in the playoffs or not. But as was once famously said by the opposing manager after a spectacular Willie Mays defensive play, "I'd like to see [them] do it again." In this case, I'd like to see if the Nets' starting unit can continue to perform at this high level once Indiana is back at full strength. Since Peja was out due to injury, I won't bother to look at how Indiana's starting five performed while playing together in comparison.
In the previous analysis, I noted that the TNT announcers praised the work of Jacque Vaughn, especially when he was on the court with Jason Kidd, and took a close look at how that combo performed together. Let's continue to do that:
|Kidd & Vaughn plus:||Min.||Plus-Minus|
|Murray, Robinson, Jefferson||2.8||+0|
|Carter, Jefferson, Krstic||2.9||+4|
|Carter Robinson, Jefferson||0.6||-2|
|Robinson, Jefferson, Collins||1.4||-6|
|Robinson, Jefferson, Krstic||2.2||+0|
|Carter, Robinson, Krstic||1.2||-2|
|Carter, Jefferson, Collins||1.4||+6|
Coach Frank is apparently trying to get every possible permutation that incorporates Kidd and Vaughn onto the floor, once, and only once per game. Yesterday, Coach Frank pulled off an amazing seven different combinations, despite playing only eight total players. If I had a say, that talent by itself would have made him a serious contender for Coach of the Year. No matter how he splits it up, though, once again the Kidd-Vaughn combo finished with a +0.
But of course plus-minus is not a good proxy for effectiveness on the defensive end alone. Since I have a little more time tonight, let's expand this section of the analysis and take a look at how the Pacers performed offensively against a backcourt of Kidd and Vaughn. I'll break this down by the three stints that Kidd and Vaughn played together:
|Quarter||IND FGA||IND. FGM||IND. TO|
So overall Indiana was a remarkable four-for-18 from the floor against a backcourt of Kidd and Vaughn, with two turnovers. Moreover, we note that this included a quick 3-for-3 to start the fourth quarter. Leaving aside that little outburst, Indiana was unable to generate any offense whatsoever. A truly dominant performance by the backcourt duo.
I'm going to end this with one more new analysis. A few days ago, Dave D'Alessandro of NJ.com noted the Nets' inability to prevent offensive rebounds during the waning moments of Game One, and pointed to that as a significant factor that led to the Nets' defeat. So let's take a look at how the offensive rebounds stacked up in Game Two:
|Quarter||IND OReb||IND Points off OReb||NJN OReb||NJN Points off OReb|
Let me note that these results were gleaned from the published game log, which may include some inaccuracies. The number of rebounds shown on this chart includes those credited to the team, which is why the totals might not match what you see in the box score. Points were considered to be scored off of offensive rebounds regardless of whether it was a tip-in, an immediate lay-up, a shot 15 seconds later but part of the same possession, or foul shots.
We can see that the Nets bore down and really restricted Indiana's offensive rebounding in the second half. Overall, both teams scored approximately the same number of points off of offensive rebounds, so this element of the game had little impact overall on the final outcome. During the regular season, the Nets were generally a poor offensive rebounding team, but were near the top of the league at preventing offensive rebounds by their opponent. Since Indiana is considered a good offensive rebounding team, if the Nets can merely stay even with the Pacers in the number of offensive rebounds and points off of offensive rebounds, it will go a long way to ensuring victory in this series.