Tag Archives: Bradley Beal

NBA Playoffs: Wizards vs. Raptors Game 5 — a look at the BIER numbers through four games

How do you like me now? John Wall has stormed thru the playoffs, dishing out 13 assists/game and scoring 26.8 ppg. Game 5 of the series tips off tonight in Toronto. AP photo by Nick Wass. License: Standard non-commercial use.

There weren’t many NBA wags who gave the 8th-seeded Wizards (43-39) much of a chance to win their first round series against top-seeded Toronto (59-23); and now that the series is knotted up 2-2 the Wiz are still the underdog in Game 5 Wednesday in Toronto, if only because the Raptors hold home court advantage.

John Wall, healthy and rejuvenated for the playoffs and the best player in the series so far, may have other ideas.  Wall got into a groove in the two Washington D.C. games, piling up 55 pts and 28 assists in the Wizards’ victories. The Raptors’ Demar DeRozan tried to keep up, but reverted to old habits in Game 4, throwing up 29 shots and making just ten, while an officiating crew chiefed by Derrick Stafford bailed him out early and often (Derozan shot 14 of 18 from the line).

It was ugly basketball for the most part, very much what the Raptors used to do in the playoffs — rely heavily on DeRozan and PG Kyle Lowry while center Jonas Valanciunas worked underneath to pull them along as far as he could. That was all the way to the Eastern Conference finals in 2016, though they lost as much as they won on the 20-game run (the Raptors won 10, lost 10, needing Game 7 wins to push past the Pacers and the Heat in the first two rounds).

Though DeRozan leads the series in scoring with 28 pts/g, his per game BIER is a pedestrian 6.25. Wall leads the series with a 12.82 BIER/gm, while Valanciunas in limited minutes (just 21.3 minutes/gm) is leading the Raptors with a high impact 10.72 BIER/gm. If this series could be billed a “Battle of the All-Star guards”, Wall and Bradley Beal are winning the battle, though not the war — not yet anyway.

Regular season BIER vs. playoffs BIER/gm for the guard match-ups in the Wizards-Raptors series. For the basics of the BIER model go to BIER Basics page. Also see BIER season leaders post at the outset of the playoffs.

Wall and Beal are averaging 49.5 pts/g and a combined BIER/gm of 20.23 — a ton of efficient production for a pair of guards. It’s also the inverse of what Wall and Beal vs. Lowry and DeRozan looked like in the regular season (13.73 BIER/gm vs. 17.55).

On the other Washington wing, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre have been relatively quiet, which means the Wizards still have options to exploit in the final three games. On paper, if Wall is healthy and at the top of his game (which he is), the advantage at guard and on the wings should go to the Wizards.

The Raptors may rationalize that Wall can’t play much better than he did in the first four games, and yet the series is tied. DeRozan, on the other hand, certainly can play better than he has, and the series is tied.

The Raptors advantages are in the front court, where Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka and Jakob Poeltl are matched up against Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris and Ian Mahinmi. The Wizards are tough, Gortat’s constant complaining aside, but the Raptors bigs are simply better players; and Valanciunas’ ability to step out for the occasional 3-pointer (40.5% from 3 this season) has presented a new problem for defenses this season. The combined BIER numbers through 4 games for the bigs in the series:

  • Valanciunas, Ibaka and Poeltl: 24.93 BIER/gm, up from 24.34 in season
  • Gortat, Morris and Mahinmi: 21.03 BIER/gm, up from 18.12 in season

Memory can be short when one is bombarded with new images and information every day, but it wasn’t too long ago that the Wizards were on the verge of the Eastern Conference finals. They were, in retrospect, a more competitive opponent for the Cavs than the Celtics (the officiating in Boston in Game 2 of the Wizards vs. Celtics series played a role in the C’s winning the series).

The 2018 Wizards are the same cast, plus a stronger bench thanks to Thomas Satoransky and the ever-improving Oubre.

The Raptors bench was the talk of the NBA earlier this season, and the keys there are 2nd-year center Poeltl and guard Delon Wright, 18 points on 7-10 shooting in Game 1.   3-point specialist C.J. Miles also shot well in Game 1 (12 pts on 4-7 shooting from three), so the Raptors bench rescued Game 1, despite the great series Wall is having.

My early prediction that the Wizards would take the series didn’t look so good. And now?

I’m looking forward to a great Game 7.

Sourcerole

  • Wizards vs. Raptors official scorers’ report, Game 1, 04/14/18 – http://www.nba.com/data/html/nbacom/2017/gameinfo/20180414/0041700101_Book.pdf
  • GAME 2 – https://data.nba.net/10s/prod/v1/20180422/0041700104_Book.pdf
  • GAME 4 – https://data.nba.net/10s/prod/v1/20180422/0041700104_Book.pdf
  • Series stats at basketball-reference – https://www.basketball-reference.com/playoffs/2018-nba-eastern-conference-first-round-wizards-vs-raptors.html

More than a Slap on the Wrist, Part 2: Wizards-Celtics in Boston, throwing the rule book out the window

Note: The initial post on referee Marc Davis began with the Raptors-Bucks game April 27 and, after Davis was promoted into the semifinals officials pool, was extended to include analysis of the officiating in Davis’ next few games along with his trends in recent seasons.  The next game Davis worked after the Bucks elimination was Game 2 of the Wizards-Celtics series, May 2 in Boston. For reference purposes, and because the original writing/notes were buried down at the bottom of “More than a Slap on the Wrist (Part 1)”, I’ve created a separate post here to put this game in better focus.

Davis was crew chief for Game 2 in Boston, with Rodney Mott and Tom Washington the other two officials. He wasted little time provoking the Boston crowd when, just 1:07 seconds after the opening tip, Wizards power forward Markieff Morris flung Al Horford into the photographers row along the baseline. Morris was retaliating for a play in Game 1 where he sprained an ankle shooting a jump shot over Horford, who slid underneath Morris as he shot. Though Morris had, well, thrown Horford into the stands, a technical (flagrant) foul was not issued on the play.

The Celtics play a rough brand of basketball, and have a couple of players in their rotation who might make good NFL tight ends or pass-rushing outside linebackers (Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart). They use their power to create advantage, intimidate and bully, and tend to get away with it. When they’re not getting away with it, they’re still wearing down the opposition.

The Wizards are also a rugged team — the Atlanta Hawks complained in their Round 1 series that the Wiz were “playing MMA.” The Celtics and Wizards didn’t like each other before the playoffs, both sides admitted, and they’re going to like each other even less when this series is done.  The tricky task of the officials is to keep the rivalry under control while ensuring that the fouls and penalties don’t unfairly disadvantage one side or the other. Leniency was thus a reasonable approach once Horford picked himself up and tempers cooled down.

That said, a technical foul (flagrant 1) was the best Morris might’ve hoped for when he threw Horford into the baseline area. Davis, however, decided to disregard the rule book altogether and charge Morris with only a loose ball foul. The standard for a flagrant foul {1) is contact “interpreted to be unnecessary”, and what Morris did was certainly that (ref: Official Rules pg. 46). A flagrant foul (2) is contact “interpreted to be unnecessary and excessive”, and Morris probably did that too. A flagrant foul (2) results in the offender’s ejection from the game.

Davis had apparently decided he wasn’t going to throw anybody out of the game just yet, and didn’t feel obliged to award Boston the two free throws they had coming under the flagrant (1) rule, either. Instead of getting those, Boston on the very next possession was called for an offensive foul on Amir Johnson. Davis made that call too, denying the Celtics two free throws and a possession after their center had been tossed around like a … like a very large person being thrown into a bunch of unsuspecting photographers.

Bad officiating? Of course it was, and perhaps part of a visitors vs. home team trend with Davis. This season the visitors won 54% of the games Davis worked. Visitors have won more than the league average in Davis’ games 10 of the last 14 seasons. The Wizards were the visitors in Boston, Game 2.

The fans in Boston, where even the obvious calls against their Celtics are booed, were outraged. Davis had managed, just over a minute into the game, to incite the wrath of the home crowd. He had managed this in his previous game, in Milwaukee, but it took him the better part of a quarter to set anybody off, and until the 4th quarter to bring the building down. The early occasion set an aggressive, angry tone for the evening. There would be 50 personal fouls called in this game, 29 on the Wizards. The Celtics would go on to win in overtime in dramatic fashion and take a 2-0 lead in the series, with Isaiah Thomas scorching the nets to score 53 points on his late sister’s birthday.

Here’s how those 50 fouls, plus two technical fouls, broke down by official who called them:

Sources: NBA Official and NBA.com, official game play-by-play.

If official Tom Washington’s 12 to 5 foul disparity in favor of the Celtics doesn’t jump out at you, the fact that he called only two on the Celtics after the 1st quarter should. Home teams won 65% of the games Washington refereed this season (13% above the league avg., and he tends to call more fouls than avg.) The quarter ended with Wizards ahead 42-29, a lead that didn’t last as the refs unleashed their whistles on the Wizards bench in the 2nd quarter.

  • Davis called fewer personal fouls than Mott or Washington, and only 16 for the game. This is part of the trend that emerges with Davis over the last six seasons. Davis calls fewer fouls than the average official. Over the last three seasons about 2.6 fewer fouls per game were called in games Davis worked.
  • The per game average this season was about 40 fouls per game, meaning that even the official who made the least calls in this game (Davis) called more fouls than he typically does, adjusting for the extra five minutes of the overtime.
  • Mott was fairly balanced with his calls, just as he was in Milwaukee.
  • Nine fouls were called on the Wizards in the 2nd quarter, as all three officials unleashed their whistles on the Washington bench.
  • Six personal fouls vs. the Wizards in the 3rd quarter, only 2 on Boston, making the 2nd-3rd quarter foul disparity 15-6 in favor of Boston. (The Wizards were ahead by 14 mid-quarter and were threatening to blow the game open.)
  • Davis called a double technical on Thomas and Morris after the two former Suns teammates confronted each other. Had Davis issued Morris a flagrant (1) technical foul in the 1st quarter, Morris would have been ejected from the game with this second T.
  • Mott made the shooting foul call on Wizards center Marcin Gortat that sent Thomas to the line to tie the game with 14 seconds left in regulation. This was a highly questionable call.

There were factors not related to the officials that prevented the Wizards from putting Game 2 out of Boston’s reach. They went cold from the outside in the 3rd quarter after building a 14-point lead. Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal had a horrific game (4-15 shooting, 6 turnovers). Washington also had opportunities on the last possession of regulation to win it, but Beal and John Wall misfired on open looks, setting up Thomas’ heroics in the overtime. The Celtics’ little big man (53 points!) earned this win.

But it’s fairly obvious to say that the refs helped keep Boston in the game, given 3rd official Washington’s 12-5 disparity in foul calls, and the overall 15-6 foul count against the Wizards over the 2nd and 3rd quarters. This wasn’t lost on Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who tried after the game to remain benignly vague when approaching the taboo subject of the refs, but didn’t quite succeed. Brooks ended his post-game interview session abruptly after the following comments.

“We had a couple of leads, 14 and I think a 10 or 12 point lead, and things changed,” Brooks said. “My job is not to referee the game, my job is to coach, and sometimes I struggle doing that. It’s a tough job. And our players gotta play. We have to be able to control the game, and (he paused) it’s not our job to do that.”

Davis served as a counter-veiling influence to referee Washington, mainly through his handling of Morris. The Wizards’ power forward, coming off a sprained ankle in Game 1, played just 26 minutes due to foul trouble but had a stabilizing impact for the Wizards on the court, scoring an efficient 16 points. Not calling the first technical on Morris was a boon for the Wizards, compliments of Davis in the face of a hostile Boston crowd, part of his modus operandi in this year’s playoffs.

But with Mott making the big call to send Thomas to the line in the final seconds to send it into overtime, this game became a reminder that it’s difficult for any one ref to engineer an outcome when there are two other officials on the court.

Note: Davis has worked one game since this May 2 game, the Rockets loss at home to the Spurs May 5 in Game 3 of that series. The Washington-Boston series is currently tied 2-2, with Game 5 about to tip off Wednesday, May 10. Davis has not been assigned to work a game, even as an alternate, since May 5 in Houston.

 Source list:

  • Official Rules, NBA 2016-17: https://ak-static.cms.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/11/2016-2017-Rule-Book-Final.pdf
  • Official game play-by-play: http://www.nba.com/games/20170502/WASBOS#/pbp
  • Wizards-Celtics Box score, 05/02/17:  http://www.nba.com/games/20170502/WASBOS#/boxscore
  • Scott Brooks post game interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mj-69Br2zE
  • ESPN story, 04/17/17: “Paul Millsap after Hawks loss: We played basketball, they played MMA”, http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/19173546/paul-millsap-atlanta-hawks-washington-wizards-were-playing-mma-game-1-victory
  • Last Two Minute report, Wizards-Celtics: http://official.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/L2M-WAS-BOS-05-02-17.pdf
  • NBA Officials Data: http://www.basketball-reference.com/referees/
  • 2014-15 Phoenix Suns: http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/PHO/2015.html
  • AP report, NBA statement on 2016 non-calls in Spurs-Thunder Game 2: http://www.nba.com/2016/news/05/03/nba-on-spurs-thunder-game-2-non-calls.ap/
  • Last Two Minute Reports FAQ: http://official.nba.com/nba-last-two-minute-reports-frequently-asked-questions/