14. June 2011 21:12
Some final thoughts on the NBA Championship round as we wrap up the 2010-11 season...
I've been reading as many postmortems online as I could since the Dallas Mavericks won the title Tuesday night in Miami. Didn't want our wrap-up report to just repeat what everyone else was saying. Didn't want to join in the psychoanalysis of LeBron James either. I realized I hadn't seen a rundown yet of the plus/minus data for the NBA Finals posted in a prominent place. That sounded like a good way to summarize the series with something nobody was talking about yet.
Let's start with the champs.
Dallas Plus/Minus (Team +14)
Jason Kidd ended up passing Dirk in the sixth game because the big German shot so poorly most of the night. The bulk of the series was Dallas falling behind when Dirk rested...then rallying when he was back in the game. Tuesday, he struggled, and the rest of the team rallied to the cause. Nowitzki and Terry got a lot of press for their clutch scoring. Interesting that J-Kidd comes through with the best plus-minus for the six games in total.
Of course, that was keyed by the extreme finale. I'm always encouraging people to use medians rather than averages. Let me run those for select guys who played a lot of minutes...
Select Dallas Medians: Nowitzki +9.5, Kidd +8.5, Chandler +4, Terry +1, Marion 0, Stevenson -6, Barea -6.5.
Nowitzki moves back to the top. J-Kidd is right behind him. Terry had big games and quiet games, so his median is just above zero. Solid influence from Chandler. Can't say he was overlooked in the series because a lot of late coverage talked about his defensive impact and his leadership in the locker room. Think everyone (me too) could have done a better job of showcasing what he was doing on the floor as he was doing it.
J.J. Barea really jumps out here as a surpisingly bad negative. Now, he was definitely wreaking havoc on Miami during stretches where things were going well for the Mavs. But, he was also a bit of an albatross when his shots weren't falling. Rick Carlisle made a great counter-intuitive maneuver when he moved Barea to the starting lineup. That changed the defensive matchups around, and actually helped hide Barea's negatives more effectively.
There's been some talk since Tuesday about where Barea will end up next year. The perception is that he made himself a lot of money with his stellar playoffs. How stellar were they? He was a true danger against the slow-moving and unmotivated giraffe's of the Lakers (a +41 plus/minus in a series Dallas won by 56). Otherwise...
Plus/Minus from the Dallas perspective:
vs. Portland: -12 with Barea, +43 without him
vs. Oklahoma City: -29 with Barea, +49 without him
vs. Miami: -24 with Barea, +38 without him
There's undoubtedly some pollution in there because Barea is usually in when Dirk is resting. But, still...that's a fairly consistent negative sequence. And, Barea's weaknesses must shoulder some of the blame for why Dallas kept falling behind for most of the Miami series when Dirk was resting. Even with a coach who used him as creatively as possible, on a team that loves him, Barea was only a positive on-court force in spurts after the Lakers series.
Our eyes were drawn to Barea scooting around. Our eyes weren't as attracted to Chandler standing strong defensively in the paint. Dallas was +67 with Chandler vs. Oklahoma City and Miami, -33 without him. Glad I tabulated the plus/minus totals or that wouldn't have registered the way it should.
Let's do the Heat...
Miami Plus/Minus (Team -14)
Yes, that's LeBron at -36. The "let's psycho-analyze LeBron" rush was followed by an "everyone should stop trying top psycho-analyze LeBron" backlash. What we see above is a numerical representation of the mystery that inspired all the talk. He DID disappear. He DID stop playing defense with intensity and energy in the last two games. He DID handle the ball like a hot potato rather than playing with aggression when the season was on the line (-11 and -24 in those last two games account for the bulk of his -36).
It's clear if you go back and look at tapes of the games. It's clear if you total up plus/minuses.
The medians push Wade and Bosh into positive territory, but still leave James way off the pack.
Select Miami Medians: Chalmers +4, Haslem +2, Wade +1, Bosh +0.5, James -5.5
This is HoopData, so will leave the psychoanalytics to others. The numbers do tell an interesting story though, don't they?
That wraps up this series of articles that began way back in December. I want to personally thank all of you who have been reading and/or commenting along the way, as well as HoopData creator Joe Treutlein for allowing me a forum to think out loud with so many of the great basketball stats that are available here at the site. A very fun ride. If any of you would like to drop me a note to talk hoops through the summer, my email address is simply my name at gmail.com. Don't want to print it formally because the spam machines may invade from all directions. If you're thinking as you type "it's weird to have three f's in a row like that," then you've typed it in correctly. No space between the first and last name.
Thanks also to everyone who's linked to HoopData stat pages or articles throughout the season, or referenced shot location data from boxscores or season summaries. Joe has done amazing work in terms of getting that information into an easy to read and understand format. Great to see it becoming a big part of so many discussions.
Enjoy the summer!