Tag Archives: Paul Pierce

Player tracking in basketball: not a silver bullet

For anyone who follows quantitative sports analysis, player tracking cameras are not news. Along with the NBA, soccer teams use them (even in the MLS) and rugby teams use them. They give x-y-z coordinates for each player at a high frame rate, which can be processed into a variety of statistics. Many think that this approach will revolutionize sports analysis. I stumbled across an article at ESPN today spreading this view to the masses.

Tracking data can help with many things, but it won’t save analysts from themselves. Here’s a point-counterpoint from the article linked above.

Point: “Paul Pierce averaged 4.5 assists this season, which is pretty good for a scoring wing. But that number doesn’t tell the whole story. According to SportVU, Pierce’s teammates shot a higher percentage after his passes than any other player in the NBA. This shows Pierce is passing at the right time — he’s giving his teammates mostly layups and open shots.”

Counterpoint: Pierce might be making great passes, but it’s just as likely that Pierce plays with better than average shooters or better than average cutters/floor spacers, or that Pierce commands a strong defender Continue reading

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The Celtics endgame

The Celtics are hanging onto the 8 seed for dear life. Last night, they got a big win over the Cavaliers (who are ninth) and managed to tie up the Knicks for the 7 seed. In Boston, most people realize that this group is done. I’m reminded of the Pistons in ’08-09; here’s the IMDB:

Endgame (2012)
PG-13 (66 games and 1 playoff round) – Sports Action

In 2008-2009, the Detroit Pistons are coming off six straight Eastern Conference finals appearances. However, their core players — Chauncey Billups, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace — are aging, Continue reading

The Celtics take on Howard and win

It was a renaissance in Boston last night. Garnett was draining 20 footers, Paul Pierce was driving and kicking and hitting shots, and Jermaine O’Neal was putting the clamps on Dwight Howard. Everybody hustled. The defensive intensity never lapsed all game. To steal a line from NBA TV studio man Brent Barry, the Celtics’ “Jurassic Five” went prehistoric on the Magic and held them to a franchise-low 56 points. It was their first win over a team with a winning record, by 31 points no less.

Recently, I’ve discussed the efficacy of the hack-a-Howard strategy (or as Celtics TV mainstay Tommy Heinsohn puts it, the old “hack the Shaq”). The short answer is that Howard shoots too well from the line (59% almost every year, though lower so far this year) for a pure hack-a-Howard to be effective for most teams. However, hacking Howard only when he has the ball in good position Continue reading

Changing strategy in response to the condensed NBA schedule

In the Celtics – Raptors game early tonight, the Celtics were up 73-55 at the start of the fourth quarter. Of the Old Three, only Garnett was on the floor. Both teams started the quarter cold, but Garnett got a couple free throws to push the lead to 20 with 9:15 left. In came Greg “the Dutch Steamer” Stiemsma, and that was the last of the Old Three for the evening. Needless to say, the Celtics won by 23. (The only bad news for the Celtics was a hard fall for Rondo, though he seems to be ok.)

I definitely approve of this strategy. There are multiple pros: Continue reading

An up close Celtics preview

I just got back from the Celtics open practice – this year they played a full two quarters of basketball, “green” vs. “white.” Everyone played except for Garnett and Pierce, and guys got into it (running actual plays, playing defense, working for offensive rebounds, refs called it tight, etc.). The white team featured Rondo and Allen, as well as new face Brandon Bass and ex-star Jermaine O’Neal. The Washington Generals green team was led by Marquis Daniels (the best defender in the league) and journeyman Chris Wilcox. It’s hard to learn too much from a setting like this, but I have a few observations from the evening: Continue reading

Shopping Rondo

Another story today about Danny Ainge shopping Rajan Rondo like the Greeks shop bonds. His main target has been Chris Paul, but Ainge went after Russell Westbrook over the summer as well.

The Celtics can barely field a team right now. They have three aging stars (Pierce, Allen, Garnett). I can see why Ainge wants to make a trade, and I agree that Paul would be an upgrade. But why would New Orleans make this deal? Continue reading