Friday, January 20, 2012

Heat Beat Lakers.. But Why?

So tonight the Heat beat the Lakers convincingly - by 11 points - and (as usual) Lebron and Kobe were the two best players on the court.

The basic stats, which are impressive for both players:

James: 31 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks
Bryant: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals

The more advanced stats, which show that neither player really had a spectacular night:

James: 0.444 FG%, 0.714 FT%, 37.1 JPoint
Bryant: 0.381 FG%, 1.000 FT%, 37.5 JPoint

So, as Kobe fans may point out, Bryant was slightly more efficient than James. And, in a strange role reversal, James fans would respond by saying that the only stat that counts is a win. I disagree with that notion, as you probably know, and I love the statistical reasons for why teams win games. Let's look at the rest of the players (skipping every stat besides points and JPoint because what else do you really need?).

First, the players you'd expect to contribute a lot:

Pau Gasol, PF, LAL: 26 points, 38.1 JPoint (hurt by his 1/4 show from the the 3-point line)
Andrew Bynum, C, LAL: 15 points, 35.8 JPoint
Chris Bosh, PF, MIA: 15 points, 43.9 JPoint
Mario Chalmers, PG, MIA: 10 points, 36.7 JPoint

Up next are the players that played below average tonight and hurt their team by either taking bad shots or just by missing their shots. I'll add in Field Goal Attempts here to show you how much they actually affected the game:

Matt Barnes, SF, LAL: 6 FGA, 3 points, 13.8 JPoint
Derek Fisher, PG, LAL: 5 FGA, 2 points, 9.3 JPoint
Norris Cole, MIA PG: 7 FGA, 4 points, 17.7 JPoint

Nobody on the Heat had a lower efficiency rating than Cole. Which is really all you need to know about why Miami won tonight. Had Barnes and Fisher's field goals been given to Bryant, there's a good chance LA would have had enough to knock the Heat off.

I know people think that I hate on Kobe a lot - and I do, sort of. But I hate more on the people that blindly support Kobe and think it's awesome that he scores 40 points on a night when he gets 30 field goal attempts and 12 free throws. If you look at advanced metrics, it would actually be better for Kobe to shoot more shots. Or to get better teammates. If you noticed, both of the Lakers players in the "hurt their team" category were starters. Eddy Curry, in his first game this season, played 6 minutes and attempted 3 field goals. But his efficiency rating was 62 JPoints. That's how you properly use a role player. Let him take shots that he can make.

In a word, the Heat won because they did that, as a team - they took shots they could make, more so than the Lakers. If you'd like proof:

Heat: 0.447 FG%, 36.4 JPoint
Lakers: .420 FG%, 31.5 JPoint

That does not reflect Lebron being better than Kobe or Bosh looking like an ostrich or Derek Fisher being awful. That reflects team decision making. And that, my loyal readers, is what you need to win basketball games.

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