Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stat of the Day: Hawks/Magic Edition

Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic: Game 1, NBA Playoffs, First Round
Last night's game between the Hawks and the Magic exposed Orlando's biggest offensive weakness.  The Hawks played Dwight Howard straight up and stayed home on the Magic's perimeter players.  Anyone who watches basketball knows that is the defensive game plan of choice against the Magic. So what I'm pointing out is that the Hawks exposed the Magic in a different way--they displayed how that gameplan works when executed effectively (which is surprising, since the Hawks are not known for their defense OR their execution). The Magic's offensive game plan is to dump the ball down to Howard, wait for the double team and subsequent kickout, then shoot the three. The Magic don't know how to win any other way, and it's been like that since Van Gundy arrived. The reason the Hawks defensive strategy worked is simple: the Magic offense is terribly inefficient when Dwight is taking more shots than he normally does.

The table below compares the difference in the Magic offense when Dwight scores less than 25% of their points and when he scores more.

The difference is astounding.  The Magic are 36-12 when he is less than 25% of the offense, but just a .500 club when he's more!  An astute observer would say, "Of course they lose more when he scores a higher percentage of the team's points, that probably means the rest of the team is scoring fewer points in general." Overall, though the team actually scores more points when he is scoring less, 100.9 points per game to 97.3 points per game.  Obviously, they need him to score some; they can't win if he only scores 10 points per game, but if he is scoring 35-40 points they're probably in worse shape than if the rest of the offense is scoring.  The strategy of using single coverage on Dwight works because the Magic don't have guys that create their own shots, they tend to hang around the perimter, and they don't move well without the ball.  They are too dependent on him kicking out to the three-point shooter or the guy who passes to the three-point shooter--I'd bet he has a lot of hockey assists.

No comments:

Post a Comment