Thursday, May 3, 2007

Never Believe Anything You Read On This Blog Again

Or else, never believe anything the people on TV say. But I think it's the first one.

Or, for alternate title: Why to Never Trust a Box Score. I ran Dirk’s and Duncan's averages for the first five games of the first round:
  • Dirk: 22.0 pts, 42.0% FG, 11.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.6 blocks, 2.2 turnovers.
  • Duncan: 20.2 pts, 47.3% FG, 10.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.8 blocks, 2.4 turnovers.
So Duncan has better numbers in assists, blocks, and FG%, and Dirk has better numbers for points, rebounds, steals, and turnovers. Just picking blindly, which set of categories would you rather have the better numbers in? Dirk's, right?.

True, Duncan has a lot more assists, but if you just add up all the stats (a rough but worthwhile measure), Duncan comes out to 39.8, Dirk to 39.6. Throw in Dirk’s 38/46 (82.6%) free throws against Duncan’s 13/22 (59.1%), and you might even say you have a wash.

Unfortunately, that's not what we've been seeing on the court. I only saw a couple of minutes of Duncan from the first round, but I assume he didn't spend large chunks of time stagnating his team's offense by either failing to get open or else hiding in the corner. And then there's the 4–1 advantage for Duncan's team, versus the 2–3 deficit for Dirk's.

Ack, my head is spinning––I want to trust the statistics, but they’re lying to me. Right?

One point back in Dirk’s favor: he has started games quite well this series. Dallas has jumped out to several early leads, and Dirk has been in the center, if I remember correctly, of all of them––driving to the basket, being aggressive, and generally being the player you'd expect. Late in the games he has faded, which has hurt his team, but I think you also have to say that his early play has helped make the Warriors’ second-half runs result in small Golden State leads rather than blowouts.

It’s still infuriating and embarrassing, and we still should demand far more, but his perhaps-better-than-Duncan numbers have not been, strictly speaking, meaningless. (Note: This keeps happening to me: I just saw over at truehoop that Hollinger made a similar comment; I wrote this before I saw it, so I'm sticking with the post.)

But there’s still a question: If Dirk has a couple of big games and Dallas somehow takes the series, how do you evaluate Dirk? Do the bad games offset the good ones? Can we be proud that he won 4 even if he lost 3 ugly? This might all be moot in a few hours (if Dallas’ season ends tonight), but I want to throw it open here.

30 comments:

Jeremy said...

If Dirk has a couple of big games and the Mavs advance, Dirk goes back to his pre-series status: a dubious MVP candidate. (If they lose he will be a national joke.)

In the long run people might credit Boom Dizzle and Nellie for Golden State's great run. But if Dirk doesn't get back to the Finals and win--remember this was a 67-win team--his reputation will take another beating.

JKnott said...

What I'd like to see just from a curiosity standpoint is, well, two things, unfortunately only one of which can happen.

First, Golden State wins, either tonight or game 7. Who will bet on them to beat Houston or Utah? San Antonio or Phoenix? Will anyone think that beating Dallas meant that they're good, perhaps better than Dallas? What if they win the next round? In short, how much would it take for them to get respect as anything but Dallas-killers?

Second, if Dallas pulls it off, will their near defeat count against them, or will everyone brush it off and say that was a fluke?

In some ways, even though I'd hate it from a Mavs fan standpoint, it would be fascinating to see GS play on in the playoffs to see if they are really good or just well matched (and motivated?) to beat Dallas. If they don't, I think the series will be just be treated as a fluke and many will start talking Championship again. But the problem is, if that happens we won't ever know.

scoots said...

And yet another possibility: what if Davis is out for the rest of the game and the Mavericks win? People would say that was the only reason they won, of course, and then it would be interesting to see what they would have to do to win respect again.

scoots said...

Oh my.

scoots said...

Mavericks are getting to lots of loose balls first--good sign.

JKnott said...

I'll take it if they win that way. As my blog says, injuries are part of the game. Just because Davis got hurt doesn't mean that it's pure luck, anyway. He has had to play a career series just to get to this point.

scoots said...

Three words: Make Baron work.

scoots said...

Fully 30% of entry passes to DeSagana Diop end badly.

JKnott said...

Only 30%?

Dallas actually seems overconfident right now...unthinkable a day or two ago. Just because Baron is hurt doesn't mean you don't have to play ball! As the commentators on TNT were saying before, you can't just wait for them to die, you have to kill 'em!

scoots said...

Remember when I was talking about how Golden State might just come apart at the seams? Jason, I think you're right--If Baron Davis didn't have injury problems, they would be better than a number 8 seed, and Dallas wouldn't have to play them this round; Davis limping for at least part of the series is almost part of the deal.

scoots said...

Finally! Dirk from 17…

scoots said...

How many shots like that can Davis hit in one series?

JKnott said...

Scott,

Apparently, lots.

What do you have to do to stop that guy from scoring? Rip off his shooting arm?

scoots said...

How often does a team shoot 37.5% for the half and still end up with 48 points? Dallas has hit 46.7% of their 3's and only 33.3% of their 2's.

scoots said...

The guys on the Mavericks not named Dirk have hit 63.6% of their 3’s and 37.0% of their 2’s.

scoots said...

Hmm, rip off his shooting arm…

Mavs are doing a nice job of running at Davis on offense, but it’s hard to fathom how someone doesn’t stay with Stephen Jackson at the 3-point line.

JKnott said...

Yeah. This isn't going to do it, fellahs.

scoots said...

Attaboy, Austin.

JKnott said...

Down 16, late in the 3rd quarter of an elimination game, and the best they can do is pass to Diop in traffic in the lane????

scoots said...

There goes Steve Kerr, trying to use that word “shocking” again. Oh well, not his fault, he’s been busy covering a normal series up till now.

JKnott said...

You know, I'll take it since it's Croshere and Davis, but I think the NBA refs' penchant for double-technicals is rediculous. All Croshere did was make a hard, clean foul and then stand his ground as Davis rushed at him. Why does he deserve a technical? If Austin gets fouled later by Davis and rushes at Davis in the same way, will they eject them both? I hope so but that would be stupid.

JKnott said...

Crap! Don't they at least want to make it interesting?

I guess it is interesting, getting blown out by a hobbled team.

scoots said...

I think Avery just gave up. I wonder if Dirk and Howard have yet.

scoots said...

When was the last time a Mavericks touched the ball within 15 feet of the basket?

scoots said...

Ah, finally.

JKnott said...

Why do you think Avery gave up?

And what makes you think that?

I wonder if I should watch the last quarter.

JKnott said...

Well, I watched the first minute and a half and I regret that.

What an end to such a season. Can you believe that year after year Dallas keeps finding new ways to screw their fans? Just when you think it can't get any worse.

JKnott said...

And now, just watch, GS will fall completely apart in the next round, just making Dallas look worse.

Jeremy said...

Obviously, Dirk didn't have the Mavs to cover the 2 1/2 points.

What a loser.

scoots said...

I knew Avery had given up when he didn’t look angry anymore.