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Dumpy's Statistical Analysis - Round 1, Game 4

Playoffs Round One - Game Four

Indiana at New Jersey, April 29, 2006
Score: New Jersey 97, Indiana 88

Let's skip the pithy intro today and get right to the numbers:

Player Min. Efficiency Plus-Minus
Richard Jefferson 43.5 18 +4
Jason Kidd 42.1 15 +6
Vince Carter 38.3 39 +22
Nenad Krstic 34.7 19 +3
Jason Collins 32.7 9 +22
Clifford Robinson 25.3 5 -8
Jacque Vaughn 11.9 1 -1
Lamond Murray 9.1 3 -2
John Thomas 2.3 -1 -1

As promised, here is another description of the meaning of these numbers:

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 +4 rating. What that means is that, during the 43.5 minutes when RJ was on the floor, the Nets outscored Indiana by a total of 4 points—hence the +4 rating. In Clifford Robinson's case, his -8 rating indicates that the Nets were outscored by eight points while he was on the court. 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 www.popcornmachine.net, and may include minor computational errors that I'm too lazy to look for.

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.

There were some real startling plus-minus figures in Game Four. Carter and Collins each registered an incredible +22, and Cliff Robinson "earned" a minus-eight. We all know that Carter was dominant in this game, but Collins' number comes as a bit of surprise. Once again, we can see just what his value is to the team when healthy and able to avoid foul trouble.

As for Robinson, this performance just further solidifies his position as the worst plus-minus performer on the team.

Here are the totals after four games:

Player Min. Efficiency Plus-Minus
Richard Jefferson 171.1 77 -4
Vince Carter 162.6 119 +17
Jason Kidd 159.4 64 -2
Nenad Krstic 138.5 70 +7
Jason Collins 112.8 23 +29
Clifford Robinson 90.9 19 -24
Jacque Vaughn 73.6 18 +8
Lamond Murray 33.4 3 -3

Due to their limited minutes, I've left John Thomas, Zoran Planinic, Antoine Wright, and Scott Padgett off the totals chart. If any of them sends an e-mail to me here at NetsDaily, I'd be more than happy to add them to the chart. Gentlemen, the fate of your legacy is now in your hands.

By now, significant differences are beginning to show up between the respective players. Again, it is Collins and Carter leading the way in plus-minus, and Carter completely dominating in efficiency rating. After four games, we are starting to reach the point where these numbers have statistical validity, and we are starting to wonder if Cliff has truly played as poorly as his plus-minus figure indicates. Moreover, his 19 efficiency rating is approximately the same as Collins' on a per-minute basis, and, of course, Collins has a +53 advantage over Cliff.

Here's a look at how the starters performed as a unit in Game Four:

Unit Stint Min. Plus-Minus
Starting Five (Nets) 1 (1st Quarter) 8.5 +14
2 (2nd Quarter) 1.9 +1
3 (3rd Quarter) 8.0 +2
4 (4th Quarter) 1.9 -2
TOTAL 20.3 +15

A return to form by the starting unit. Nice job.

Let's continue to look at the time when Jacque Vaughn was on the court with Jason Kidd:

Kidd & Vaughn plus: Min. Plus-Minus
Jefferson, Robinson, Krstic 2.8 -5
Jefferson, Robinson, Thomas 2.2 -1
Carter, Jefferson, Collins 0.9 +2
TOTAL 5.9 -4

Not nearly as effective as in the earlier games, but then again, they played much fewer minutes together.

Let's look again at Indiana's shooting percentage against the Vaughn-Kidd backcourt:

Quarter IND FGA IND. FGM IND. TO
1st Q. 6 2 1
2nd Q. 5 4 2
4th Q. 1 0 2
TOTAL 12 6 5

This time, Indiana's shooting percentage in such situations appears to be more in line with the plus-minus against a backcourt of Kidd and Vaughn.

Finally, let's return to our examination of the offensive rebound count:

Quarter IND OReb IND Points off OReb NJN OReb NJN Points off OReb
1 4 0 1 3
2 3 0 2 2
3 3 5 2 3
4 1 2 3 5
Total 11 7 8 13

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.

If you're looking for a quick story line for Game Four that has not been picked up by the media outlets, this is probably it. Over the first two quarters, the Nets held Indiana without a single point as the result of an offensive rebound. Over the course of the game, the Nets outscored the Pacers after offensive rebounds by six points, despite grabbing three fewer boards on the offensive end. And remember that the Pacers pulled to within five points near the end of the contest, before the Nets increased their lead to nine at the very end. For all intents and purposes, then, this difference essentially tracked the margin of victory. This is both good news and bad news. I suspect that this result is somewhat due to luck and not some inate skill. If the Nets' points-after-Offensive-rebounds were instead about the same as Indiana's, there very well could have been a different result. In Game Five, the Nets must show that they can beat Indiana without relying on this sort of advantage.

Until then,

--Dumpy