June 15, 2017


[UPDATE:  FiveThirtyEight does this properly here.]

As the players slip into their limos and run through their voicemails, let me make one or two observations on the greatest basketball team that ever played.  Kyle Wagner at FiveThirtyEight believes the Warriors defied basketball logic, and won by flouting sensible data-driven rules like "get to the free throw line as much as you can" and "never shoot deep twos."

Well, maybe.  It was tough to watch things like this - a play in which the Warriors make eight passes to set up Draymond for a three - and believe you were watching optimal practice.  (If Livingston hadn't restored order they might still be out there.)

But I would argue that the Warriors actually won because they did three things very well:

1)  Shoot really well and make the other team shoot a lot less well.  Here is a chart of the difference, for each playoff team, between its effective shooting percentage and its opponents' effective shooting percentage.  Spot the really good team:

2)  When you have the ball, play as a team, move the ball around, make the opposing defense work.  Here is a chart of playoff teams' assists per made field goal (and hats off to madman Brad Stevens who had the Celtics playing so well):

3)  Disrupt the other team's offense with steals and blocks.  Remember, this team was supposed to be soft, didn't have good rim protection, etc.  Playoff steals + blocks per game:

Amazing team.


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