Bucks Diary

Friday, April 25, 2008

Top Performing NBA Playoff teams using PVOA

I went over each of the NBA playoff games played thus far and calculated each of the participant team's overall, offensive, and defensive "point value over average" averages to try to determine objectively which team is playing the best basketball.

PVOA in a nutshell

Point Value over Average works like this. I calculate the number of possessions in the particular game. Then I calculate each team's PVOA by comparing the points scored and allowed by the team against what the rest of the league would have scored and allowed in the same situation given the same number of possessions.

A quick example: Lets say that Boston is playing at home against Atlanta, and there were 92.8 possessions in their game. The final score, hypothetically, was Boston 105, Atlanta 80. Now, to get Atlanta's PVOA, I use Boston's home efficiency numbers to calculate the average number of points scored and allowed by the Celtics in a typical home game that featured 92.8 possessions. Lets say that turns out to be: Boston 98.5, Opponent 83.1.

Okay, since Atlanta only scored 80 points, and Boston's opponents would normally score 83.1, Atlanta's offensive PVOA is -3.1 points. And since Atlanta allowed Boston to score 105 points, whereas the rest of the league had only been allowing them to score 98.5 points in that many possessions, Atlanta's defensive PVOA is +6.5 points (with "+" representing a below average defensive performance). You put it all together and Atlanta's overall "Point Value over Average" for that particular game is -9.6 points. That is how I get my PVOA numbers from which I derive each team's PVOA averages.

Okay, here are my results for the playoffs so far:


1. So far I have the New Orleans Hornets playing the best basketball. But even though PVOA is theoretically opponent neutral, there is still a bit of a chicken/egg thing to consider. How much of New Orleans outstanding offense can be accounted for by Dallas' shameful defense?

2. Before the playoffs I wondered how much of a factor "momentum" would be. Well, if you go by the Toronto-Orlando series, the answer is next to none. Since the all-star break, Orlando was one of the best playoff teams and Toronto one of the worst, but Toronto has thus far outplayed Orlando.

3. Its interesting to see how lopsided both the Lakers and Celtics, and indeed the Hornets, are. None of those 3 top teams exhibits balanced excellence... they're all either offensively charged or defensively charged.

4. The rankings also show what I contended in my last post... Phoenix is not playing poorly.

5. Even though I did factor in home and road differences, it should still be pointed out that Utah is the only team among the top 5 or so that has played a road game.


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