After shooting lights out from three-point land Thursday night at Miami, the Orlando Magic were just 6 of 23 Friday night in an 89-81 home loss to Chicago.
I was wondering just how strong the correlation was between three-point shooting and success for the Magic this year. If it's as strong as it seems just eyeballing a few boxscores, then it might be the linchpin stat for playoff success. But, Dwight Howard is getting a lot of run for MVP lately in conversations. If he TRULY is the most valuable player in the league, nobody would be saying stuff like "live by the three, die by the three" about his team! MVP's carry their teams on their shoulders. Teams without an all-facet superstar live by the three and die by the three. That's the general rule anyway.
A quick and dirty way to do this is to look at the "effective field goal percentage" for Orlando on three-point attempts in the game logs. (You can use this link and scroll down to the "Threes" column at the far right in the "Shot Locations" section and look at "eFG%").
Here were the breakdowns (including games that weren't yet in the logs as I wrote this because stat nation is at the Sloan Conference at MIT).
Orlando's EFG% on Treys and Won-Lost Records:
39% or less: 3-10
60% or better: 17-4
That looks fairly dramatic at first glance. Orlando is 3-10 when they have a two-point equivalent of 39% or less, and 37-13 otherwise. This is one of those loaded situations though where correlations often get REALLY one-sided. It's obviously not the end of the world if they land in the 40-49% range as a two-point equivalent. They're still winning two thirds of the time! And, 70% actually feels a little low for the 50-59% range for a team that's supposedly so reliant on treys.
It's not like playoff opponents can count on holding Orlando to 39% or less in effective field goal percentage on treys every time out. Orlando is far from being toast if they're just okay from long range, and not a sure thing to win vs. quality if they're shooting well. So, I'll stop using "living" and "dying" for the time being. But we should still keep an eye on the stat because it's such an important part of Orlando's attack.
On the Chicago side of things tonight, it's worth noting that:
*The Bulls DIDN'T blow a big lead like they did the other night. This was a virtual replay of Chicago-Atlanta much of the way...
Chicago 49, Orlando 35
Chicago 50, Atlanta 33
THIRD QUARTER SCORE
Chicago 65, Orlando 57
Chicago 63, Atlanta 58
Chicago 89, Orlando 81
Atlanta 83, Chicago 80
Orlando's fatigue in the back-to-back may have had something to do with that. Can Chicago close on the road vs. quality if the opponent isn't tired and missing treys?
*Derrick Rose was 0-5 on three-pointers, continuing an ugly shooting streak from behind the arc:
2 of 19 this week (3 games)
6 of 41 the last 8 games
10 of 59 the last 12 games
There's nothing wrong with passing the ball out on the perimeter if you've missed 49 of your last 59 three-point attempts!
*Rose had a plus/minus of -3 in this eight point victory, and a -5 in the loss to Atlanta. We can't call tonight's game more evidence of a wear down because he shot great inside the arc (9 of 14). He only had 4 assists though, and 5 turnovers.
*It was actually the Chicago bench that did the bulk of the work here. The only Bulls starter in positive range in plus/minus was Carlos Boozer at +1. Four backups were plus double digits (Korver, Brewer, Watson, and Asik).
*Kevin Durant was able to go for Oklahoma City tonight in Atlanta with what was thought to be a gimpy ankle. Didn't look too gimpy...as Durant had 29 points and 8 rebounds.
Atlanta failed to rally from behind on this night as they did vs. Chicago earlier in the week. The Hawks are now 4-7 their last 11 games, with losses to playoff bound Oklahoma City, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and the LA Lakers in the mix. They don't currently have the look of a team that's going to win a first round series.
*Chris Paul snapped out of a slump for New Orleans in Memphis. He scored 23 points, had 14 assists, and posted a plus/minus of +20 in a 7-point 98-91 victory.
New Orleans had been 4-12 their prior 16 games coming in, while Memphis had been 12-4. The Hornets aren't ready to fade out of the playoff mix just yet.
*I've pushed New York down a bit today because they've led so many recent postings. You know they lost AGAIN to Cleveland. And, they did it despite getting a lot of offense from Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.
Two of the same defensive issues that showed up last week in Cleveland were in play here. Cleveland owned the offensive boards, grabbing 16 on the night and earning a gaudy 38% offensive rebound rate. The Cavs also cashed in a lot of open looks from the perimeter, naling 12 of 21 treys. The third issue from last week, sending the Cavs to the free throw line all night, wasn't much of a problem.
Chauncey Billups was out again with an injury. Anthony was 10-16 from the floor for 29 points, yet was -11 in plus/minus, the worst mark for a starter by far. I'm still trying to find evidence of the elbow problem for Carmelo in the numbers. He did seem to move in closer for his shooting Friday (that could be because Cleveland's defense is so soft though). He only took three shots all night greater than 18 feet according to the first draft play-by-play. Among his baskets were two driving layups, a tip in, a dunk, a 2-footer, and a 4-footer.
New York has looked very good when bearing down vs. quality since the trade. They have wins over Miami and New Orleans, and had strong stretches in the loss to Orlando. Can they bear down and focus on defense and rebounding every game through the playoffs? Or, are these letdowns vs. Cleveland evidence that they can only keep that focus going a few quarters at a time?
At least they won't have to face the Cavs in the playoffs!
*I started monitoring Stephon Curry and David Lee's plus/minus on this road trip, so I want to keep that going until they shut me up. Curry was -8 in a 4-point loss at Boston (again underachieving the team). Lee was +1, so I can get off his back for awhile.
Back in a bit to run some numbers from the Heat/Spurs game before calling it a week...