Title: Raptor Recalibration, Game 2: Marc Gasol as a screener, starter struggles, Carly Rae Jepsen and more
Date: May 18, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, my playoff day-after playoff column looked at an ugly Game 2 loss for the Raptors against the Bucks, one that highlights some major issues they don’t have a lot of time to resolve.
MILWAUKEE – I have given myself a project for the offseason: study score effects in basketball.
In prior summers, I’ve sworn I was going to learn Python. The idea is to be better able to play with publicly available data and toy with my own metrics in a more effective way than I currently do. (Which is just loads of copy-pasting and Excel work. It’s archaic, but NBA offseasons are short and freelance life — which I lived until this season — doesn’t afford you a lot of skill-development time.) Even with a tighter offseason this year because of a deeper Raptors playoff run and the FIBA World Cup, it’s gotta happen.
One thing I’d really like to look at is the idea of score effects, which is something we know exists in other sports. Basically, it’s the idea that once a game is a certain level of out of hand — say, 25 points at halftime — the terms of engagement shift, and because the game parameters are different, we have to look at data from those situations differently. Managers use lesser relievers when they’re up additional runs, NHL teams opt for a more defensive approach that limits opponent shooting percentages when up multiple goals, trailing soccer teams get off more shots less efficiently and so on. It stands to reason that defensive intensity and rotation optimization are decreased in a 20-point NBA game, and in the regular season, you probably even see things like the 2017-18 Raptors giving Pascal Siakam more point guard duties later in games (that example will be tougher to quantify). There’s a reason Ben Falk’s excellent site, Cleaning the Glass, filters out garbage time. I would like to get a snapshot of exactly the effect he’s trying to remove.
Why? Well, I’ve always been interested in that idea. Also, it would better help us to sort through games largely devoid of analytical value, like Game 2 between the Raptors and Bucks. Alas.