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

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

  Possessions Conversions Percentage
Chicago 6132 3129 .5103
Miami 6287 3205 .5098
Indiana 6293 3173 .504
Philadelphia 6119 3040 .497
Boston 6177 3052 .494
Atlanta 6275 3087 .492
New York 6424 3141 .4889
Orlando 6120 2991 .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

  Possessions Stops Percentage
Chicago 6154 3270 .5314
Boston 6228 3309 .5313
Miami 6339 3362 .530
Philadelphia 6156 3251 .528
Atlanta 6282 3273 .521
New York 6401 3330 .520
Orlando 6105 3115 .510
Indiana 6263 3190 .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 Goals Off. Rebounds Turnovers Rating
Chicago .452 .306 .151 607
Indiana .438 .273 .147 564
Miami .469 .248 .159 558
Philadelphia .448 .231 .121 558
Orlando .441 .257 .161 537
Atlanta .454 .223 .147 530
New York .443 .250 .164 529
Boston .460 .192 .158 494

 

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

OPPONENTS' OFFENSIVE RATING

  Field Goals Off. Rebounds Turnovers Rating
Miami .434 .244 .175 503
Boston .419 .256 .166 509
Philadelphia .427 .232 .149 510
New York .442 .245 .176 511
Chicago .421 .239 .142 518
Atlanta .444 .238 .159 523
Orlando .449 .229 .142 536
Indiana .435 .265 .157 543

 

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

  Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Off. Rtg. Def. Rtg. Overall
Chicago 1 1 1 5 2.0
Miami 2 3 3.5 1 2.375
Philadelphia 4 4 3.5 3 3.625
Boston 5 2 8 2 4.25
Indiana 3 8 2 8 5.25
Atlanta 6 5 6 6 5.75
New York 7 6 7 4 6.125
Orlando 8 7 5 7 6.625

 

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.

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