Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
It’s all pretty simple: If the Heat win tonight, the series is over and they win the NBA title. If the Thunder win, we head back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 and the series continues for the Thunder on their home court. Yes, game 5 is important.
Now that I’ve stated the obvious, how about a little insight to what we can expect tonight. If you take a look at the history of the NBA Finals, there is good news and bad news for the Thunder. First, a little backstory. In the previous 65 NBA Finals, 30 of those series had one team with a 3-1 lead after four games. In 27 of those 65 series, the series was tied at 2-2; there was a four-game sweep in eight of the NBA Finals.
So the Thunder are the 31st team that will try to wipe out a 3-1 deficit in the finals. (The last NBA Finals that was 3-1 after four games was in 2009 when the Lakers had a 3-1 lead over Orlando. They won the series in five games.) Here’s a little good news for OKC:
* In the previous 30 Game 5s where the series was at 3-1, the away team won Game 5 14 times. The Thunder are the away team tonight.
* In the previous 30 Game 5s where the series was at 3-1, the team that was behind in the series was able to win Game 5 and send the series to a sixth game in 14 of those games.
* There have been 12 finals series where the team with the 3-1 lead in the series has the opportunity to win the series in Game 5 (similar to tonight’s scenario for the Heat). In those 12 series, the team with the 3-1 lead has won Game 5 and the title in seven of those series. In five of these series, the road team that was behind in the series won Game 5 extending the series to a Game 6. Here’s a look at those five series where the road team won Game 5 sending it to a Game 6… something the Thunder hope to accomplish:
1998: Utah, down 3-1, defeated the Bulls in Chicago in Game 5.
1967: San Francisco, down 3-1, defeated the 76ers in Philadelphia in Game 5.
1966: Los Angeles, down 3-1, defeated the Celtics in Boston in Game 5.
1963: Los Angeles, down 3-1, defeated the Celtics in Boston in Game 5.
1951: New York, down 3-1, defeated the Royals in Rochester in Game 5.
Note: In looking at the box scores from the five Game 5s listed above, it’s interesting to note that the teams that won Game 5 each got big games from their superstars. In Utah’s 1998 win, Karl Malone scored 39 of Utah 83 points in their win; in San Francisco’s 1967 win, Rick Barry poured in 36 in the victory; in the Lakers 1966 and 1963 wins, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West had big games (Baylor 41 in ’66 and 43 in ’63; West 31 in ’66 and 32 in ’63.) If the Thunder is to win tonight and send the series back to OKC, they may have to depend on monster games from Kevin Durant and/or Russell Westbrook.
Finally, here is the bad news for the Thunder:
* If OKC is hoping to win the series by winning the next three games, there is a stark reality that looms large. First, no team has won an NBA title after being down 3-1 in the finals series. Secondly, just getting the series to a Game 7 is not an easy task. Of the 17 NBA Finals that went the full seven games, 15 of those series went to a Game 7 after the two teams were tied 2-2 after four games. That means that only two finals series went to a Game 7 when a team faced a 3-1 deficit. The two games:
1966: The Lakers, down 3-1, forced a Game 7 but lost Game 7 95-93 in Boston.
1951: The Knicks, down 3-1, forced a Game 7 but lost Game 7 79-75 in Rochester.
What does all this mean? It’s an uphill battle for the Thunder. First, can they do what hasn’t been done in 45 years… get the series to a Game 7? Then, can they do what has never been done in NBA history… win the championship after being down 3-1 in the final series?
As “Bull Durham’s” Crash Davis would say, “You have to take them one game at a time.” It all starts with Game 5.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Kentucky‘s Anthony Davis recently won the Naismith Player of the Year Award, his team won the national championship, and Monday night he set a record for the fewest points scored in a championship game by the Final Four Most Outstanding Player (MOP). Davis had 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and three steals to go with only six points in the MOP performance. It was the fewest points scored by an MOP in a title game since Bobby Hurley was MOP in Duke’s 1992 national championship. Hurley had only nine points in the title contest.
Following are the Final Four MOPs who had fewer than 15 points in the championship game.
Points, Player, Team, Year
6: Anthony Davis, Kentucky, 2012
9: Bobby Hurley, Duke, 1992
10: Patrick Ewing, Georgetown, 1984
11: Walt Hazzard, UCLA, 1964
12: Marv Huffman, Kansas, 1940
12: John Kotz, Wisconsin, 1941
13: Corey Brewer, Florida, 2007
14: Alex Groza, Kentucky, 1948
One more look at the leading scorers from last night’s game. Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor led the Jayhawks with 19 points. This was the fourth straight year that the leading scorer for the losing team scored under 20 points.
In looking at the history of the tournament, there have been 42 players who scored 20 or more points in the title game as a member of the losing team. Slide the scale up to 25 points and we see that there have been 15 players who scored 25 or more points in a losing cause in the NCAA men’s Div. I championship game. Seton Hall’s John Morton tops the list with 35 points in his school’s 1989 championship game loss to Michigan.
Here’s a look at those 15 players who scored 25 or more points in a losing cause in the title game.
Points, Player (School, Year)
35: John Morton (Seton Hall, 1989)
34: Kevin Grevey (Kentucky, 1975)
29: John Wallace (Syracuse, 1996)… Larry Finch (Memphis, 1973)
28: Rick Mount (Purdue, 1969)… Cazzie Russell (Michigan, 1965)… Jerry West (West Virginia, 1959)
27: Udonis Haslem (Florida, 2000)… Ron King (Florida State, 1972)… Jerry Lucas (Ohio State, 1961)
26: B.J. Born (Kansas, 1953)
“SIX STATS…” is a bonus feature of Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ and is published every Friday.
The 61st version of the NBA All-Star Game will be held this Sunday in Orlando. Here are a few interesting stats about the history of this game.
1. The team that has the lead at halftime has won 46 and lost only 12 (the game was tied at halftime in two contests). The East has a 26-3 record when leading at halftime.
2. Seven players have scored 20 or more points in the game and had zero assists in the game. Bob Pettit and Dominique Wilkins lead this contingent. Pettit had 29 points and no assists in the 1961 game; Wilkins had 29 points and no assists in the 1988 contest. Others: Paul Arizin (26 points/0 assists in 1952), Pettit (25 points/0 assists in 1963), Dave DeBusschere (22 points/0 assists in 1967), Willis Reed (20 points/0 assists in 1970), Karl Malone (28 points/no assists in 1993). Malone is the last player to “accomplish” this feat.
3. Of the previous 60 games, only 19 were decided by five points or less. However, five of the last 11 games have been decided by five points or less, including the last two. Ten of the 60 games have been decided by 20 points or more.
4. Based on a minimum of ten shots taken, eight players had a shooting percentage of .800 or above in an NBA All-Star Game. The eight: Oscar Robertson (1970, 9 of 11, .818), George Gervin (1985, 10 of 12, .833), Patrick Ewing (1990, 8 of 10, .800), Mark Price (1994, 8 of 10, .800), Tim Duncan (2000, 12 of 14, .857), Kenyon Martin (2004, 8 of 10, .800), Dwyane Wade (2006, 9 of 11, .818), Brandon Roy (2008, 8 of 10, .800).
5. The team that gathers more rebounds in the game has a slight 31-29 edge. The West has won the rebound battle in 35 of the 60 games. Remarkably, they have outrebounded the East in the last 13 games. The team that has a higher shooting percentage for the game has won 44 of the 60 games. Each team has had the better field goal percentage in 30 games. In eight of the last nine games, the team that has a higher field goal prcentage for the game has won.
6. Last season Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol combined for 54 points in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. They became only the fifth pair of teammates to combine for 50 or more points in the all-star game. The others: 1961-Hawks teammates Bob Pettit and Clyde Lovellette, 50 points; 1962-Lakers teammates Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, 50 points; 1965-Cincinnati teammates Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas, 53 points; 1967-Warriors teammates Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond, 54 points.
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” published every Friday.
Last season the L.A. Clippers Blake Griffin was the only NBA player to have over 1,200 points, over 600 rebounds, and 300 or more assists. Griffin scored 1,845 points, had 989 rebounds and dished out 312 assists. LeBron James fell 10 rebounds short last year of making the 1,200-600-300 club.
Following are the players who have the most 1,200+ points, 600+ rebounds, and 300+ assists seasons in the NBA.
10… Larry Bird
9…. Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone
7…. Wilt Chamberlain
6…. Charles Barkley
5…. Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson
4…. Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Fat Lever, Scottie Pippen, Chris Webber
3…. Alvan Adams, Brad Daugherty, John Havlicek, Connie Hawkins, Grant Hill, Magic Johnson, Detlef Schrempf, Mychal Thompson, Antoine Walker, Sidney Wicks
Fifteen NBA players averaged 24 or more points in their first NBA campaign, led by Wilt Chamberlain who averaged 37.6 points per game (ppg) in his rookie season of 1959-60. Here is the list of the 15:
Player, rookie season ppg, rookie season
Wilt Chamberlain, 37.6 (1959-60)
Walt Bellamy, 31.6 (1961-62)
Oscar Robertson, 30.5 (1960-61)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 28.2 (1969-70)
Elvin Hayes, 28.4 (1968-69)
Michael Jordan, 28.2 (1984-85)
Rick Barry, 25.7 (1965-66)
Terry Dischinger, 25.5 (1962-63)
Elgin Baylor, 24.9 (1958-59)
Geoff Petrie, 24.8 (1970-71)
Sidney Wicks, 24.5 (1971-72)
David Robinson, 24.3 (1989-90)
Earl Monroe, 24.3 (1967-68)
Walter Davis, 24.2 (1977-78)
Bernard King, 24.2 (1977-78)
Two quick notes: Of the 15 players listed above, only two, Jordan and Baylor had career scoring averages higher than their rookie season ppg.; Jordan averaged 28.2 his rookie season and tallied 30.1 ppg for his career… Baylor had a career ppg of 27.4 after a 24.9 ppg mark in his first season in the league. Four of the 15 players listed above never topped their rookie season ppg in their careers: Bellamy, Dischinger, Wicks and Davis. Dischinger had the most significant drop going from a rookie season ppg of 25.5, yet his career ppg was only 13.8.