NBA Playoffs 2012: Evaluating the Efficiency of the Eastern Conference Entries

Abacus RevealsCorrespondent IIApril 28, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 26:  Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls celebrates a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center on April 26, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Cavaliers 107-75. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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ESPN and its assorted array of analysts inform us on a regular basis that “Numbers Never Lie.”  Of course, if predicting the outcome of sporting events—like the NBA Playoffs—were a simple matter of numerical analysis, the word “bookie” would be a synonym for “nerd” and Las Vegas might still be a desert wasteland.

Nonetheless, measurements of offensive and defensive efficiency far more often than not properly account for the level of a team’s success.  Thus Abacus offers a look at the seasons of the eight Eastern Conference playoff entries through the lens of efficient play—on both ends of the floor.

Offensive efficiency can be thought of as the percentage of a team’s possessions that result in either a converted field goal or two (and sometimes even three) free throw attempts.  Here’s how they rank in this regard:

OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

 PossessionsConversionsPercentage
Chicago61323129.5103
Miami62873205.5098
Indiana62933173.504
Philadelphia61193040.497
Boston61773052.494
Atlanta62753087.492
New York64243141.4889
Orlando61202991.4887

 

Similarly, defensive efficiency would be the percentage of the opponent’s possessions that do not result in a field goal or free throw attempts—either a missed field goal not offensive rebounded, or a turnover.  Those rankings are as follows:

DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

 PossessionsStopsPercentage
Chicago61543270.5314
Boston62283309.5313
Miami63393362.530
Philadelphia61563251.528
Atlanta62823273.521
New York64013330.520
Orlando61053115.510
Indiana62633190.509

 

Let’s consider one more standard of measurement—one to which Google is not likely to lead you.

 

Calculate a team’s field-goal percentage.  Add to this the percentage of the team’s missed field goals which can be balanced by an offensive rebound.  (E.g. a team misses 40 field goal attempts, but hustles its way to 10 offensive rebounds—that’s 25 percent.)  Finally, we’ll determine the percentage of a team’s possessions which are lost to a turnover; naturally, this figure will be subtracted.  In this manner, we create a numerical Offensive Rating.

OFFENSIVE RATING

 Field GoalsOff. ReboundsTurnoversRating
Chicago.452.306.151607
Indiana.438.273.147564
Miami.469.248.159558
Philadelphia.448.231.121558
Orlando.441.257.161537
Atlanta.454.223.147530
New York.443.250.164529
Boston.460.192.158494

 

Finally, we’ll crunch those same numbers for the opponent and create a numerical Defensive Rating.

OPPONENTS' OFFENSIVE RATING

 Field GoalsOff. ReboundsTurnoversRating
Miami.434.244.175503
Boston.419.256.166509
Philadelphia.427.232.149510
New York.442.245.176511
Chicago.421.239.142518
Atlanta.444.238.159523
Orlando.449.229.142536
Indiana.435.265.157543

 

An average of each team’s standing in these four categories will create this ranking.

 Off. Eff.Def. Eff.Off. Rtg.Def. Rtg.Overall
Chicago11152.0
Miami233.512.375
Philadelphia443.533.625
Boston52824.25
Indiana38285.25
Atlanta65665.75
New York76746.125
Orlando87576.625

 

If ESPN is correct about the veracity of numbers, then we should all be calling our friendly neighborhood bookie—no, not at the public library—and betting on those Bulls to make the NBA Finals.