Playoffs Round One
Indiana at New Jersey, May 2, 2006
Score: New Jersey 92, Indiana 86
Well as you all know, the Nets pulled out a hard-fought contest on the strength of a remarkable performance by Vince Carter to gain the upper hand in this best-of-seven series. Who played well? Who played poorly? Let's take a look at the numbers behind the box score. As you'll see, Game Five exposed the team's recent strengths and weaknesses that have been discussed here over the past few days.
Once again, I have sorted this chart in descending order of minutes played. For a description of what these numbers mean, I'll refer new readers to the numerical analysis of the first and fourth games against Indiana. I'll continue to repeat the explanation every few games.
• Once again, Jason Collins earned an eye-popping plus-minus figure. Twin's +10 rating in just 14.5 minutes would prorate to +28 if he had played 40 minutes.
• Once again, Vince Carter was the most productive Net (but you knew this already).
• Once again, there was limited production from the bench.
• Once again, Cliff Robinson "earned" the lowest plus-minus rating on the team.
Here are the totals after five games:
Due to their limited minutes, I've left John Thomas, Zoran Planinic, Antoine Wright, and Scott Padgett off the totals chart. As I promised last time, 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.
I just can't get over the difference between Jason Collins and Cliff Robinson. It is truly mind-boggling that Collins could be +65 over Robinson. Perhaps the difference is due to Robinson playing mostly with the reserves. According to www.82games.com, however, the Robinson + "Big Four" combo has produced a –16 rating in 50 minutes against Indiana, while Collins + the "Big Four" has produced a +35 rating in 86 minutes of play. Moreover, the poor play of the Robinson unit is due in large part to poor defensive play, as opposed to solely poor offense: Indiana has produced a .570 effective shooting percentage against the Robinson unit, as opposed to a .481 effective shooting percentage against the "Big Four" plus Collins. Clearly, then, the difference is all in the play of Robinson. It appears to be shaping up that Jason Collins will be as integral to the team's success this post-season as will be Kidd or Carter. We've seen Cliff go through stretches where he appeared to be ineffective defensively, and it appears that we are squarely in the middle of another one. If Collins continues to be plagued by foul trouble, the Nets may be hard pressed to reach the latter rounds of the playoffs. Hopefully, Robinson's poor performance is not due to a latent injury that will linger for the remainder of the post season. At any rate, this is something that we'll keep an eye on.
Here's a look at how the starters performed as a unit in Game Five:
|Starting Five (Nets)||1 (1st Quarter)||6.9||+4|
|3 (3rd Quarter)||2.7||+4|
The starting unit was fairly dominant when in the game, but, as mentioned, its minutes was greatly limited due to Collins' foul trouble.
Let's continue to look at the time when Jacque Vaughn was on the court with Jason Kidd:
|Kidd & Vaughn plus:||Min.||Plus-Minus|
|Murray, Robinson, Krstic||0.8||-5|
|Jefferson, Murray, Robinson||3.3||+0|
Let's also look again at Indiana's shooting percentage against the Vaughn-Kidd backcourt:
|Quarter||IND FGA||IND. FGM||IND. TO|
For the third straight game, the Kidd-Vaughn backcourt was not effective. It appears as though Coach Frank has noticed this, and has limited the minutes of this combination as a result.
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|
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.
As expected, the points-off-rebound count returned to a fairly even state following a game where the Nets performed significantly better in this situation. The good news is that the Nets have continued to stay with Indiana in the offensive rebound count, and in series where each game seems to go down to the wire, this becomes a huge factor.
Game Six prediction: Based on the above, I'll predict that Game Six will be decided by the status of Jason Collins. If Collins can somehow play 32 minutes or more, the Nets will win by at least ten points. A foul-plagued Collins will turn the game into a dogfight that will go down to the final buzzer. As discussed above, until Cliff emerges from his funk, this will continue to be a major factor.