Tag Archives: hack-a-Shaq

Hack-a-Howard in practice

A couple weeks ago, I argued that the hack-a-Howard strategy could work on a player who shoots 50% from the line. My post was timely; four days later, Mark Jackson instructed his Warriors to foul Howard repeatedly. Howard attempted 39 free throws (an NBA record) and made 21 (54%). The Warriors lost the game, and commentators hammered Jackson for ruining the flow of the game and being afraid to face up to the opposition. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t really complain but refused to foul 51% career free throw shooter Andris Biedrins in retaliation. However, the Warriors still had a chance to win with 3 minutes left against a far superior opponent. To me, that looks like a success.

What do the numbers say about Jackson’s decision? Well, Continue reading

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The hack-a-Howard

In my post on Friday about the DiMaggio hit streak, I mentioned the old hack-a-Shaq strategy. With Dwight Howard playing for Shaq’s old team, I’m surprised that teams don’t try the hack-a-Howard (Howard is a 60% career free throw shooter). Friday night’s Bulls-Magic game was a potential opportunity; the Bulls led for the entire fourth quarter. Here are the Bulls possessions inside of 4:30 remaining: Continue reading

The hitting streak

I just finished reading “56,” a retelling of Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak by Kostya Kennedy (thanks to my buddy Jake for the book!). He unfolds the 1941 streak like a story, complete with what the players were thinking/saying and lots of contextual details concerning DiMaggio’s family life, World War II, Italian American immigrants, etc. The book has a bit too much typical baseball nostalgia, perhaps (witty newspaper reports, grand ballparks and announcers, exaggerated personalities), but the story is undeniably fascinating and the writing is pretty good. Kennedy also sprinkles in some discussion of other hitting streaks and finishes with a good summary of quantitative work that’s been done on streaks.

The big debate about both good and bad streaks is whether they arise due to chance alone or whether they reflect Continue reading