Hostile Environment

This seems to be the common theme (besides “LeBron blows”) of this series. LBJ and KG both have used it frequently when describing home court advantage. As far as I see it, there are two forces colliding in Game 3. Let’s start with the obvious: The Cavs will feed off their crowd, benefit from their “home” rims and James will get more calls, make that a lot more calls. The Jazz, Spurs and Magic all won Game 3 on their home court after falling down 2-0 in the series.

But here’s what the Celtics have on their side: A major chip on their shoulder. They were embarassed by their inability to win a road game against Atlanta. They can right that ship and silence plenty of critics by coming out strong in this one. I’m guessing Cleveland wins this battle of forces in Game 3, but the Celtics will prevail in Game 4.

Today’s Links: Globe – Ball in Cavs Court | Posey Returns Home | Herald – C’s are Defensive Kings | James Looking for Shot | Cleveland Plain Dealer – Team Still Trusts LeBron | Billups Feelling Better

I wonder how Lakers fans are feeling about Pau Gasol this morning? Not only did he turtle in last night’s loss to Utah, but he whined to the refs the whole game. And then he took his sulking back into the locker room where he dressed in a separate area. (Check out this great column by Bill Plaschke) This is the guy who’s going to handle KG?


14 Responses

  1. Its like I’ve been saying… they STILL give up way too many points. They gave up another 104 last night… and if their offense is off… then they’re going to lose. Of all the teams still left… they’re giving up the most points. The Celtics are giving up the fewest.

    Oh by the way… the Celtics are still scoring 95… giving them the biggest point differential in the playoffs.

    So to recap: The Lakers are giving up 102 ppg… The Celtics score 95. The C’s allow 84. The Lakers score 112. Something’s gotta give there… and remember… DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS

  2. Finally a topic for us Laker fans…knew you missed me Cheetoh…To answer your question…I feel great about Gasol…he had a tough game (happens ALL the time in the NBA)…I expect that his locker room methods were to help him focus, analyze his mistakes and mentally drain that game from his system…he was embarrassed with his performance and I expect he’ll have a much better showing in Game 4…Phil will make minor adjustments and we will NOT turn the ball over like we did in the 1ST period…that set an ugly tone for the game…by the way…with by far our worst game of the playoffs, we had a chance to win at the end…no worries for Pau.

  3. Lets factor in that the C’s play in the East and Lakers in the West, so naturally those stats will clash more dramatically because of that…but keeping with your elementary argument…the average score would be 98.5 to 98…wow…what a series! I hope we do get that, because I’ll be honest…the finals have been boring as hell…I hope we both get there to see it…

  4. Inferno,
    That’s the arithmetic mean of their points scored/allowed, but a better prediction is the geometric mean, which gives:
    Lakers PPG = (84*112)^.5 = 97.0
    Boston PPG = (95*104)^.5 = 99.4

    Of course, each team has at least 6 more games before the finals begin, so these stats will change anyway.

  5. […] The open road LOY’s Place We’ve been here before and so have they Red’s Army Hostile environment Perkisabeast Post game interviews Inside Indiana Report: Rivers to enroll at […]

  6. I always appreciate intelligent argument William and while I understand and agree with your raw math…I disagree with the premise that geo mean is better put to use in this application…First: Your splitting hairs…the difference between the 2 is really 1 point and Second: We’re not comparing percentages or ratios here…we ARE dealing with pure arith…points allowed or gained by 1, 2 or 3 point increments, not 2 unknown variables that we are comparing over a determined timespan or say free throw percentage over a series…ask your math teacher i’m sure Mujibar will agree with me…Nice try though, even if you are using Math for Dummies on the other end. Lakers rule and so do their fans…Hey Chuck, care to chime in Shamrock Thigh-boy?

  7. I don’t think either of you are calculating this correctly. If the Lakers are giving up 104 per game… you have to figure out how much HIGHER than that an opposing team will score…. if an opposing team is typically average a fairly high amount of points.

    Basically…. why would a team giving up an average of 104 points give up less than that to a good offensive team?

    Utah came into this series averaging 90.5 in its first series… now its averaging 104. The real thing we need to do (and that I’m too lazy to do) is look at how much above their average Lakers opponents scored. Utah is currently 13.5 points above average. If that were to hold… the Celtics would score 108.

    Meanwhile… the Celtics typically hold opponents below their average. The Cavs came in averaging 95.5. They’re now at 72.5.

    Ugh…. so many numbers… brain…. hurting.

    Basically… we need to do more than just split differences… because the Lakers, being a bad offensive team… will give up more points to better offensive teams.
    Maybe splitting the difference would work with the C’s D… because the Lakers are also a good offensive team.

    So in the end… I think the C’s would score more than the 104… and the Lakers would be held to the mid-to-high 90’s.

  8. Inferno,
    Glad to see it’s appreciated, let me respond to your two points:
    1) The difference appears small, but really isn’t, using 12.5 as the exponent in the Pythagorean Expected Win % formula (ESPN uses 16.5, but 12.5 has a better fit for this regular season) we find –
    Prediction | BOS PPG | LAL PPG | BOS’ PEW% | BOS’ PEW% * 7 (for probable length of series)
    Arith | 98.5 | 98 | 0.516 | 3.61
    Geom | 99.4 | 97 | 0.576 | 4.03

    So the small difference in PPG between the two predictions actually results in about 0.4 expected wins over a 7 game series. To really make an accurate prediction for the series we’d have to incorporate home court advantage, which would further increase Boston’s expected wins.

    2) The fact that we’re dealing in discrete results (PPG) doesn’t have any bearing on whether our predictions should be discrete or continuous. You’ll note that your own result of 98.5 for Boston isn’t an integer. Our predictions are merely that, predictions. The final results are discrete realizations of random variables centered on our predicted values.

  9. redsarmy,
    The problem you’re encountering is that you’re not taking into account game pace. We split differences between each team’s numbers (those achieved at different paces) because
    of the fundamental assumption that when they play each other they will have an equal number of possessions (the game will either be slow, or fast, but it can’t be slow for one AND fast for the other).

    This is further complicated by the fact that each team’s predicted results should be variables based on pace, not just averages. The way to interpret this complication is that the Lakers are a running team, while Boston plays slowly. Though Boston is the better team, we should expect their talent advantage to be mitigated by playing at the Laker’s preferred pace (if the game pace is fast), or to be exaggerated if the game pace is slow.

    The (I believe) incorrect assumption that teams play consistently regardless of pace (that in effect made by reporting only mean PPG, not PPG as a function of game pace) reveals a rival conclusion: Boston’s talent advantage would be exaggerated by playing more quickly, since there will be more chances for their greater talent to make a difference.

  10. To further elaborate, let’s look at Off/Def Efficiency (PP 100 possessions), from Hollinger’s Team Stats, here:

    Weighting these linearly between the regular season and the postseason we get:
    Bos Off Eff – 107.6
    Bos Def Eff – 95.9
    LAL Off Eff – 110.6
    LAL Def Eff – 102.9

    PEW% here has the beautiful property of being unconditional on pace so long as the ratio is correct (given our (again, I think incorrect) assumption that team quality of play is unconditional on pace); it gives us (for Boston) 0.567, which over 7 games leads to 3.97 expected wins.

    Again there is a lot of noise here: home court advantage, that LAL’s regular season numbers include those generated with Bynum/Cook/Evans/Ariza and without both Bynum and Gasol, as well as those generated only with Gasol (most accurate for predictive purposes), and similar considerations for Boston’s late season additions of Cassell and Brown.

  11. I’ll be honest… at this point I feel like I should be trying to steal your lunch money.

    Let’s just say that no matter what… The Celtics will outscore the Lakers.

  12. Reds…William…just got in…enjoy the game…but in closing…

    Redsarmy: You kind of made my point for me…much more data needs to be entered into the equation, but of the initial 2 responses, the arith was fine as long as the discussion was basically ” Boy that’ll be a hell of a series…”

    William: Clearly kissing a girl should be tops on your priority list…I hoped not to send fans of this blog to tears with statistical fodder, but clearly…I am too late.

    Ultimately I agree with Reds Celtics will have a slight advantage and William…if I see you in a bar, buy me a beer or I’ll kick your Pythagorean ass…Enjoy the game!

  13. yes, justice has been served. aaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!! go cavs, go cavs!!!!!! a whooping baby. we won by a bigger margin than you guys did in your first 2 wins. it’s awfully deserted in here. where are you guys? where is your postgame recap of the game? you have one every time your team has won. why none now? or you just do the recaps for wins? someone in here said that the celts had more motivation to win game 3 as opposed to new orleans and the lakers, and that would ride your team to a victory. how did that go?

    Cavs in 6

  14. Just trying to educmacate you guys, please don’t break my glasses.

    You call that justice? It’s real easy to win 8 on 5. It’s real easy to shoot confidently and sustain a lead when the refs have spotted you 20 points. Congratulations on a truly hollow win.
    I’ll believe someone winning in Boston when I see it.

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