Kyle Soppe also writes about the NBA for Pickin’ Splinters. Follow him on Twitter.
With the final full week of the regular season in the books, here is your weekly tracking of the NBA’s odd and spectacular trends and statistics.
- When a team knows that a certain player is a “three-point specialist”, you would assume that they would pay extra attention to the player, and chase him off of the three-point line. As notoriety increases, two-point attempts tend to as well, as teams over compensate and give up the lane to the shooter. Either teams aren’t watching one ounce of film, or Steve Novak is just that good at getting his shot off. He is 4/5 this month from inside the arc, equating to one attempt every two games. In April, he has connected on 29/65 three pointers. On Friday the 13th, Novak attempted three two-pointers, making a believer out of me that odd things occur on that day. Since the 13th, the sharp shooter has attempted 36 three-pointers (making 19) and not a single two-pointer.
- The week started with the Mavs scoring 121 points against the Jazz in a losing effort, while the Hornets tallied 75 points against the Bobcats in a victory. The New Orleans game set the sport of basketball back to the days of Dr. James Naismith, as the two teams combined for 20 points in the third quarter. Calculating the points scored on a per minute basis, the Hornets would have needed another 2.5 quarters to match the Mavs point total. Amazing that they flew home happy, while the defending champs had nothing to celebrate.
- Building a little more on the excuse for an offense that we viewed in Charlotte: it took the two teams 10:40 into the second half to score their 16th point, while LeBron James scored 17 points over the final 4:48 of Miami’s victory.
- It’s almost to easy to take shots at Charlotte, so I’ll limit myself to tw0 more. The Bobcats fell to a season worst 39.5 games behind the division leading Heat. If you converted games behind to victories, the 39.5 wins would land Charlotte a home playoff series in next week’s playoffs.
- If one is not careful, one would assume the Warriors are the 2013 version of the Phoenix Suns. We all know about Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, and David Lee, but Golden State was led by two others when it came to scoring against the Spurs. Nate Robinson and dark horse rookie of the year candidate Klay Thompson scored 59.6% of the Warriors points, a number not even matched by LeBron James and Chris Bosh. In fact, only Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson managed a higher percentage of their teams points. But with the Bobcats only scoring 67 points, the Warrior duo outscored the Charlotte tandem by 18 points. This Warrior team can score points, but that is only half the battle of winning in the NBA.
- The Raptors are a struggling team, there are no two ways about that. But they did rank near the top of the league in a unique statistical category on Tuesday: production by players with the same letter beginning both their first and last name. Toronto had three such players, James Johnson, DeMar DeRozen, and Alan Anderson, score in double figures. Food for thought: can you name the team who gets even more production from three such players?
- Elite centers are hard to find today, but on Tuesday, the position was ignored. The 76ers and Magic played one another, and combined to have 12 players score at least 10 points. The Hawks displayed just as much balance in their victory against the Raptors, as they put 6 players in double figures. The commonality between these three teams is that none of their starting centers recorded 10+ points. These aren’t teams with elite options at center (Elton Brand, Daniel Orton, and Jason Collins) but to have the scoring spread out so well, and the center not be a part of it is rare.
- The Cavaliers appeared to be playing in Detroit with a beach ball that wouldn’t fit in the basket. They attempted more field goals than points scored, a very hard way to win a basketball game at any level. A big part of Cleveland’s struggles was the ineptitude of Antawn Jamision. The Cavs second leading scorer (17.4 ppg) missed all 10 of his shots from the field, the ninth time in 30 days in which he has missed at least 10 shots. That stat is even more concerning when you consider that he averages only 16.4 shots per game.
- The featured game on national TV was a dandy, as the Knicks won 118-110. The game had the greatest point total of the six games on the NBA slate, but the fewest possessions (86).
- In stark contrast to what we saw Tuesday night, Saturday featured some great play in the paint. The Utah Jazz beat the Orlando Magic in overtime, thanks in large part to a 26 point difference in the paint. Long range shooting can only stay hot for so long, a big reason why the Magic are so inconsistent. They attempted 38 three pointers and 36 two pointers. Combine that with the fact that if you subtract Gordan Hayward from the Jazz box score, Utah totaled 22 assists and 2 turnovers, and I’m not sure how the Magic forced this game to an extra session.
- Brandon Jennings has been playing well alongside Monta Ellis, and never was that more evident than Saturday night. Jennings torched the Nets for 30 points on 18 shots, his most productive game in recent memory. His 1.67 points per shot was his second best of the season, and best since January 12th.
- How can you almost guarantee a loss? Well, the Trailblazers gave us a pretty good answer against the Grizzles. They made as many field goals for the entire game (29) as the Grizzles made in the paint.
- Remember when everybody was getting on Dirk Nowitzki for not shooting enough threes? Those critics have quieted down recently, as Dirk has made multiple three pointers in 23 games this season and the Mavs have won only 11 of those games.
- My week long study this week was on leading scorers from a each team, and their shooting percentages. The leading scorer on the winning team shot an average of 56.90% while the highest scoring loser shot an average of 48.53%. The part of this study that surprised me the most was that the high scoring losers attempted more shots (daily) just as often the winning teams top scorer did. For the week, the leading scorers of the losing teams attempted more shots (but scored fewer points) than than the top man on the victorious team. The day with the greatest difference in terms of percentage was Thursday, where the top scorer on the 5 winning teams shot 58.54% while the 5 top scorers of the losing teams shot only 36.67%. This 57 game sample shows that it is more important to be efficient that it is to simply lead your team in scoring.
- Manage to think of the team with 3 players who have the same first and last name initial?
The Boston Celtics trio of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Brandon Bass outdid the Raptors on Tuesday night, and have been better for the season. As a Raptors fan, I can assure you that we will take a second place finish in just about anything.