Game Three Thoughts

Posted on June 12, 2007 by

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LeBron was well below average in Game One, posting a Win Score that was actually in the negative range.  After this performance I noted that LeBron does not often have back-to-back below average games.  

In Game Two, LeBron had a positive Win Score. Still it was below average for a small forward, so his Position Adjusted Win Score (PAWS) was in the negative range.  After that performance I observed how rare it is for LeBron to have three consecutive below average games.

Tonight LeBron improved upon his Game Two performance, a performance that had improved upon his Game One production.  So the good news is that LeBron is getting better. Unfortunately, with a Win Score of only 5.5, and a Win Score per minute of 0.131, King James was still offering less than an average small forward per-minute (average is 0.152).  So his PAWSmin was once again in the negative range (-0.021 to be exact). Again, I should note, three consecutive below average games is very unusual for LeBron.  He did it once in 2006-07 and once in 2004-05 (and not at all in 2005-06). What about a four-peat?  That hasn’t happened since his less than stellar rookie season.  King James simply does not play badly four consecutive games.  And I mean it this time. LeBron will be above average in Game Four.

Unfortunately, it will be too little too late.  The Spurs are up 3-0 and no one in NBA history has ever overcome such a deficit.  Given that the Spurs are really the better team, it seems very unlikely that the Cavs will be making the greatest comeback in league history.

Cleveland did play much better in Game Three.  Or was it that the Spurs played much worse?  The big three in San Antonio – Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker – were all below average in Game Three. In 100 minutes of playing time the three combined for a Win Score of 2.5.  That’s all the Spurs got from their stars. The team was saved by Brent Barry (who is generally very good), Robert Horry (who tends to be a bit above average), and Bruce Bowen (who statistically, typically does very little).  In fact, Bowen actually offered more statistically than LeBron, which obviously doesn’t happen every day.

For the Cavs, Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a monster game.  He finished with 18 rebounds.  On the offensive glass he captured more rebounds than the entire Spurs team combined.  In fact, the ten offensive rebounds grabbed by Ilgauskas nearly matched the number of offensive rebounds (12) captured by every other player in the game. 

Of course he was helped by his teammates.  For those begging for more Daniel Gibson, the game was a bit disappointing.  Gibson took ten shots and created nine opportunities for Cavaliers to grab offensive rebounds.  If “Boobie” was trying to create rebounds for Ilgauskas, he succeeded.  If he was trying to put the ball in the basket, he did not quite do as much as he hoped.

Although it does seem unlikely that the Cavs can win this series, hopefully Cleveland can win one game on Thursday night.  If that happens, and the Spurs close the series out in Game Five, I will finish second in the True Hoop Stat Geek Smackdown.  So although the drama in this series is running low, for me at least, there is still a reason to watch.

One final note before calling it a night.  Eric Neel wrote a column entitled “Blaze of Glory” at ESPN.  This column reviews the 1976-77 Portland Trail Blazers, who some say “upset” the Philadelphia 76ers to take the 1977 NBA title.  Tomorrow I am going to once again comment on this series from three decades ago.  This comment will include a review of the Wins Produced for each squad and a discussion of why no one should have been surprised that Portland could defeat Dr. J. and the 76ers back in 77.

– DJ