On January 25, 2010, the Utah Flash hosted the Maine Red Claws. The Red Claws ended up thumping the Flash handily, but I thought the way this game played out provides some excellent insights on winning and on losing.
Here is the scoring by quarter:
Check out the points scored by each team in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Wow, huh?
A game like basketball has so many variables that it can be hard to be 100 percent sure of any particular cause and effect. Different officiating, home court verses on the road, injuries, etc. all tend to dilute analysis to some degree, so sometimes it’s nice when you can use the same game to study certain aspects of the game.
Then again, in most blowout games, the game stats as a whole aren’t very useful because the play of both teams in “garbage time” is rarely representative of the play prior.
So, what were these teams doing when they were successful? When they were struggling? Is it quantifiable and can we learn from it?
Defining “inside shots” as shots within about 8 feet of the rim, and “outside shots” as shot from about 9 feet out to the 3 point arc…
In the 2nd quarter, 44% of the Maine Red Claws’ shots were from the inside, while 63% of their shots from the inside in the 3rd quarter. When you consider that Maine shot 27% from outside and 50% from inside those two quarters, you can see how this adjustment to their shot selection significantly helped turn the game around for the Red Claws.
CARE FOR THE BALL
In the 2nd quarter when the Flash prevailed, they had 3 turnovers compared to 8 for the Red Claws. Conversely, the Flash had 8 turnovers in the 3rd quarter and the Red Claws just 4. Consider that for the whole game the Red Claws actually had more turnovers than the Flash (1), and you start to appreciate the importance caring for the ball plays in winning basketball.
In the 2nd quarter, when the Flash outplayed the Red Claws, the Flash was +5 in rebounds. Considering the Flash were -7 in rebounds for the game overall, it’s safe to say the the Flash’s commitment to rebounding that quarter contributed to their successful quarter.
Obviously, allowing your opponent to score inside rather than forcing them to prove they have an outside shot is a defensive problem. Many of these inside shots were made possible by gambles made in perimeter defense, gambles which resulted in easier inside shots. But how does a team go from holding an opponent to 15 one quarter, then letting them run for 36 another?
Basically, the Flash came out of the locker room with a lax commitment to playing winning basketball. They didn’t play hard, nor smart, and got a good thumping by the visitors as their reward.
I’m waiting for it to dawn on Luke Nevill that at his size, in the d-league, he should have at least 10 rebounds a game if he expects to get noticed by the NBA. He should be a solid double double guy, night in and night out.
In the 2nd quarter, Kosta Koufos was only 1 of 4 shooting, but had 4 rebounds and 2 steals. In the 3rd quarter, Koufos had a missed shot, a foul and a turnover in 3:50 of play in the Flash’s disasterous 3rd quarter. While Kufous finished with a respectable 16 points for the game, 6 of them came in “garbage time” near games end when the game wasn’t winnable and the Red Claws cleared their bench.
The Flash also seemed a bit distracted by the presence of former Utah Flash teammate JR Giddens, now playing for the Red Claws on assignment from the Celtics.
Similarly, Giddens seemed especially keen on getting the Flash, and was a bit rude to the Flash fans who gave him a very warm welcome back to Utah.
My 12 year old daughter demoted Giddens from her favorite player in the d-league to “glad he’s gone.”