Tag Archives: Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Finals Game 5 history not necessarily a good omen for OKC Thunder

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Logo of the NBA Finals.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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


NBA Finals: Winning the game by winning the quarters

English: Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals at the ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were down 54-47 at halftime of Game 1 of the NBA Finals after losing the first quarter 29-22 and tying the Heat in the second quarter, 25-25. The Thunder won the game by winning the third quarter 27-19 and winning the fourth quarter 31-21.

So here’s a few questions to ponder: How important is it to win multiple quarters in the NBA Finals? Is it more important to win one particular quarter of the game? Can you win an NBA Finals game by outscoring your opponents in only one quarter and having them outscore your team in the other three quarters?

Looking at the quarter-by-quarter scores of the NBA Finals games since 2000 (68 games), it appears that the winning teams have had the most success in winning individual quarters two and three. Of the 272 quarters played in the 68 finals games since 2000, the winning team has won 167 quarters, lost 89 and tied in 16.

Following are the number of times the winning team won each of the four quarters in the NBA Finals since 2000.

First quarter: Won 35, Lost 26, Tied 7

Second quarter: Won 45. Lost 18, Tied 5

Third quarter: Won 45, Lost 20, Tied 3

Fourth quarter: Won 42, Lost 25, Tied 1

The Thunder were only the seventh team in the last 68 games to win a finals game without winning either of the first two quarters. The Dallas Mavericks accomplished this three times last year on their way to winning the 2011 NBA title over the Miami Heat. Could this be a trend for the Heat?

Since 2000, only four teams have won a finals game by outscoring their opponents in all four quarters. The four:

2008, Game 6:  Boston over L.A. Lakers 131-92

2006, Game 4: Miami over Dallas, 98-74

2005, Game 4: Detroit over San Antonio, 102-71

2003, Game 5: San Antonio over N.J. Nets, 93-83

On the flip side, there have been only four teams that have won a finals game since 2000 by winning only one quarter and being outscored by their opponents in the other three quarters. They were:

2011, Game 3: Miami over Dallas, 88-86 (they outscored the Mavs in the first quarter only)

2002, Game 1: L.A. Lakers over N.J. Nets, 99-94 (they outscored the Nets in the first quarter only)

2001, Game 1: Philadelphia over L.A. Lakers, 107-101 (they outscored the Lakers in the second quarter only)

2000, Game 6: L.A. Lakers over Indiana, 116-111 (they outscored the Pacers in the fourth quarter only)

Did you know? The winning team has won 43 of the 68 finals games where they were outscored by their opponents in only one of the four quarters.

Did you know, Part 2? Teams that outscored their opponents in two or more quarters won the series 61 times and lost 26 times since 2000 (a .701 winning percentage).

The moral of the story (stat): Outscore your opponent in at least two quarters and you’ll have a 70% chance of winning the game!

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Manu Ginobili’s ‘nasty’ game spurs San Antonio in Game One

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, during...

Manu Ginobili (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spurred (pun intended) by an impassioned plea from their coach for more “nastiness” in their effort, the San Antonio Spurs outscored the Oklahoma City Thunder 39-27 in the fourth quarter and went on to win Game One of their Western Conference Final series, 101-98.

During that same pre-fourth-quarter huddle when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said “I want some nasty” from his team, the 63-year-old and current NBA Coach of the Year also asked his players “Are we having fun yet?” It seems super sub Manu Ginobili decided to heed Popovich’s advice; he scored 11 points in the fourth quarter on his way to a 26-point performance off the Spurs bench.

This was the 10th playoff game in Ginobili’s career where he came off the bench to score 25 or more points in a postseason contest. Not surprisingly, the Spurs are 9-1 when Ginobili comes off the bench in a playoff game to score 25 or more points.

Following are the players (from 1986-2012) who scored 25 or more points in the most playoff games when they did not start.

Games w/25+ points, Player (Team’s record in those games)

10….. Manu Ginobili (9-1)

8….. Eddie Johnson (3-5)

5….. Thurl Bailey (2-3); Vinnie Johnson (2-3); Kevin McHale (1-4); Ricky Pierce (3-2); Nick Van Exel (3-2)

4….. Leandro Barbosa (3-1); Jason Terry (2-2)

3….. Mark Aguirre (2-1); Sam Cassell (2-1); Dan Majerle (3-0); Jerry Stackhouse (2-1)

This was the second game of these playoffs where a reserve came off the bench to score 25 or more points. OKC’s James Harden came off the bench to score 29 in the Thunder’s Game Four win over the Dallas Mavericks. This was Ginobili’s first 25-point performance off the bench in a playoff games since May 25, 2008.

Ginobili’s 26 points as a sub in a playoff game are far from the most scored by a reserve since 1986. Five different subs have scored 35 or more points in a playoff game since the 1986 playoffs. In fact, Nick Van Exel has three of the seven top performances off the bench in a playoff game since ’86; all three of his games happened in a seven-game series against Sacramento in 2003.

Points, Player, Team (Date)

40: Nick Van Exel, Dallas (May 10, 2003)

39: Thurl Bailey, Utah (May 4, 1988)

36: Nick Van Exel, Dallas (May 8, 2003)

35: Ricky Pierce, Milwaukee (May 2, 1989)

35: Juan Dixon, Washington (May 2, 20005)

35: Eddie Johnson, Phoenix (May 9, 1989)

35: Nick Van Exel, Dallas (May 15, 2003)

Research Source: www.basketball-reference.com

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Durant: Six stats you might not know

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers drives t...

Kobe Bryant  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Game 1 of the Oklahoma City ThunderLos Angeles Lakers playoff series is in the books and the Thunder made a pretty loud statement with their 119-90 win.

While there are many subplots to this series, the one that has garnered significant attention is the match-up between Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. ESPN Stats & Information noted that this is the fifth time that the No. 1 and No. 2 regular season scorers are facing off in the playoffs. This Kobe-Durant battle may not have the sexiness of a Magic-Bird matchup, but it’s still worth watching.

Here’s a look at some stats you might not know about when Kobe and Durant have faced off against each other since Durant came into the league in 2007 (includes last night’s game).

1. The Lakers and Thunder (they were the Sonics in Durant’s first year in the league)… and Bryant and Durant… have played against each other 23 times since the start of the 2007 season. The Lakers have won 16 of the 23 games. The Thunder, however, have won four of the last five. They have faced off in the playoffs seven times with the Lakers holding a 4-3 edge. The home team has won all seven games in the playoffs between these two teams.

2. In the 23 games that Bryant and Durant have faced each other, Kobe has scored more points than Durant in 11 games, Durant has scored more points than Kobe in 11 games, and they have had the same number of points in one game. In the last 14 games, however, going back to March 26, 2010, Durant has outscored Kobe in 10 games of those 14 games.

3. Both Bryant and Durant average just under 21 shots per game when their teams play against each other. Bryant averages 20.9 shots per game, Durant 20.5 shots per game.

4. Each player’s points per game (ppg) in home games, away games, wins and losses in the 23 times they’ve faced each other:

* Bryant: Home, 27.1 ppg; Away, 24.6 ppg; Wins, 26.0 ppg; Losses, 25.3 ppg.

* Durant: Home, 25.0 ppg; Away, 25.3 ppg; Wins, 26.7 ppg; Losses, 24.4 ppg.

5. Bryant averages 27.0 ppg in regular season games against the Thunder. His playoff average versus the Thunder is 23.0. Durant averages 25.2 ppg in regular season games against the Lakers; his playoff average is 25.0.

6. Kobe’s high game against the Thunder in the Bryant-Durant era was 48 on January 14, 2008. His low game was 11 on March 26, 2010. Durant’s high game against the Lakers was 35 on April 22, 2012. His low was a 15-point performance on February 24, 2008.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp