The Dream Shake - a Houston Rockets blog: Some All Star Break Analysis

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Some All Star Break Analysis

I’ve spent about 3 hours coming up with this “analysis” so hopefully it was worth it. In the long run it will probably help me write up a few things later this season as long as I keep the information up to date.

The All Star Break is here and the Rockets have managed to win 8 in a row and get completely into the Playoff picture. I was trying to figure out where they really stand coming out of the break and here is what I came up.

Let me start off with a disclaimer: No one else would have done it exactly how I did. In no way is this even close to perfect. There are a lot of changes that could be made, but I much prefer the 5th grade math version I’ve done. This is not Wages of Wins, only Dave is that good at math on this site. I also reserve the right to change any of this if someone tells me I’m dumb, and then delete their comment and pretend that I thought of it on my own!

A little background: I took the top 10 teams in the West and the top 5 teams in the East and created a chart that showed their winning percentages overall, at home, on the road, against the West and against the East. With this information I built a database that does the following:

Average the road winning percentages of the top 8 teams in the West separately for Home and Away and then do a comparison against where each team stands. I did the same for the East using all 5 teams I included for their averages.

Assigned a points system: 3 points were assigned to a team that was above their conference average and 1 point was assigned if they were below. This information was then applied to each team in the database’s schedule.

If you were playing a team on the road and they were better than their conference average, you received 3 points, if they were below you received 1. Same was applied on the road.

The outcome:

From an overall view Phoenix obviously has it the worst, playing not only the most teams, but the most highly ranked teams as well. Portland has been backsliding, but they have a very favorable schedule coming out of the break, so watch out for them.

For the Rockets, the good news is that they have a schedule that is the 7th most difficult schedule out of the 10 playoff contenders in the West. This is definitely a good sign to keep this winning streak going. Unfortunately, 10 of the 15 games they play against the top 15 teams are on the road after the break. The reason their overall number is low is that those teams as a whole don’t have above average home records and they play the second least number of games against these teams.

This chart will probably come into play for final seeding:
This shows how many games each team in the West has left against other West teams and how many they have left against teams from the East. What really jumps out is that New Orleans has the best record in the West and now only has 16 games the rest of the season against them. This could definitely work to a regular season advantage since their record should soar, but could hurt them in the playoffs as they won’t be as familiar with the West anymore by the time they start.

I found this analysis to be troubling, but only to an extent:
These are the parameters:
1. All of these teams automatically win all games against everyone else in the West not listed, and all of the East teams not in the Top 5 of the East. Effectively everyone they have no business losing to.
2. If a home team has a better home winning percentage than the road team has a road winning percentage, that they win, and vice versa.

Given those two items, the Rockets would not make the playoffs. Again, none of these items are the only way to look or even a combination that gets the real answer closer, just things I’ve found interesting. The reason this one is not really indicative is that 1. I want to disavow anything that says the Rockets don’t make the playoffs and 2. The Rockets are penalized because they are one of the most balanced winning teams in the West and only behind Toronto and Boston in the East. They aren’t running away with every possible home win, they are winning at similar clips at home and on the road.

Again, just some fun with numbers, it's not even in the same universe as accurate, just some things I found interesting. It's not going to deter me from my predictions: 10 in a row

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