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Section 109: Cavs vs. Lakers Preview — By The Numbers

January 21, 2010

In a world of arcane sports statistics, John Hollinger is the man when it comes to morphing NBA players and teams into complex spreadsheets. You don’t have to know what PER stands for, or understand the formula for calculating a player’s Plus/Minus Ratio to appreciate the grace and athleticism of NBA athletes. But when I wake up thinking about a big game and it’s still more than 12 hours to tipoff, I need something to distract me. Hollinger’s carefully collated numbers on the ESPN site are the fix for the hoops addict until the next live game action.

The team stats for the Cavs and Lakers are, as you might expect, pretty evenly matched. While enough has been said and written about the disparity in home/road schedules, the strength of schedule for the two teams is pretty even. The Cavs opponents have chalked up a combined 49% winning percentage, while L.A.’s foes have a combined 51% winning percentage.

One number that does pop out is the offensive rebounding rate, where the Lakers average almost two more per game. Los Angeles does a good job with putbacks and tap outs, mostly due to the activity of Gasol, Artest and Bynum.  I will be interested to see how the Cavs will attack the boards this evening.

One way to combat the Lakers on the boards is the way the Cavs did it on Christmas day. The will use the Twin Towers configuration of Shaq and Z to nullify Bynum and Gasol, while LeBron occupies Artest. I have said it before — in a crowd under the basket, Ilgauskas is the best volleyball player in the NBA. His reach allows him to keep balls alive and get tap outs the other players don’t. Meanwhile, Shaq will fill the lane and should prevent followers flying in and crashing the boards for second chance points.

Getting rebounds means controlling possessions. That’s significant here, because the Cavs average fewer possessions per game than the Lakers, but score more points per possession. That means preventing the Lakers from getting second chance opportunities and offensive rebounds is going to be key. That would seem to be a no-brainer, but statistically some teams do not score more with more posessions — L.A. does.

The one nagging question is Jamario Moon. He was a factor in the last game, and he will be watching the game in a suit. Can Jawad Williams provide help rebounding and defending Kobe and the other LA wingmen tonight? I hope so.

The last important statistic is 20,562. That’s how many seats Quicken Loans Arena contains. They will all be filled tonight, and the fans will do their best to affect the outcome of this game. Players always say the crowd doesn’t bother them when they’re playing on the road. Maybe not, but a good crowd will pump up the home team. A good crowd, not one that tosses foam fingers on the court when things aren’t going their way.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 1, 2010 6:37 pm

    what a great site and informative posts, I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

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