I’ve created a color-coded table of the season thus far. This looks way cooler using multi-colors but I found myself having to continually go to the legend (or look at the score) to remember what color represented what margin of victory or loss.
Limited by Excel 2000 I’ve settled on two tones, red tones for wins and blue tones for losses. As the colors get more intense (brighter/darker) the margin of victory/loss gets larger. This way instead of seeing one game at a time by looking at the score, you can easily see 7 to 15 to 25 games at one glance, and hopefully will not need to refer to a legend. Notwithstanding a legend is provided at the bottom of the first table.
Red tones = wins
Light Purple = wins by less than 10
Bright Purple = wins by 10 or more
Dark Red = wins by 20 or more
Blue tones = losses
Light Blue = losses by less than 10
Bright Blue = losses by 10 or more
Dark Blue = losses by 20 or more
As you’ll see from the Table 1, we stumbled out of the gate, but then went 6 & 4 with no win greater that 10 points and all four losses small (11 point loss to Phoenix was not too bad). Then we somewhat caught fire in game 12 and went 9 & 2 thru game 22. We were 15 & 6 in games 2 thru 22 – not bad.
Then we had a rough stretch where we went 5 & 7 in games 23 thru 34. To be fair the win % of these teams was .572 whereas the win% of opponents in the first 20 games was .497. So much for the first part of the season being the toughest. Actually the very early part of the season our opponents win% in the 1st 10 games was .584 and we were 6 & 4 in those 1st 10 games.
In games 21 thru 42 we were 11 & 11 – I’ll discuss that a little latter.
Please peruse at your own peril – you may need to scroll up and down a little as we’ve played about 5/8ths of the season.
Table 1 - Season Thru Game 50
You’ll notice that Table 2 below is not only a Legend describing the color that goes with each category, but also a table that records how many wins or losses is in each category. To the right last years season is included for comparison. The percent those games represent of the season (% of season), will help to compare this year to last year.
The interesting revelation here is that two categories are almost identical from last year to this year - games won or lost by less than 10 points, today’s game against the Knicks shifted it a little. The big difference comes in the other categories, games won by 20 or more has more than doubled in percentage compared to last year. Games won by 10 or more has increase from 18% to 28%. The other big change is the games lost by less than 10 points which is a considerable change from last year. Also the close games are similar to last year.
The 3rd table is also the current season, except it is sorted by the opponents win% with the lesser teams at the top. So we expect to see more red at the top and more blue at the bottom.
Table 3 - Season Sort by Opp Win%
We are taking care of business with teams below .500. 18 wins, 4 losses.
As I’m writing this post I see Denver got pummeled with a 44 point loss to the NJ, which helps to wash the bad taste from my mouth about last nights loss to OKC.
Here is where things get a little ugly. Listed below Table 3 is the Blazers record with teams above .500 and above .550. The problem is Phoenix now holds the eighth position with a win% of .571. And if you look close you’ll notice that just above the.550 level is where the Blazer wins drop off dramatically.
Again, you can scroll thru the bottom of Table 3 without looking at scores and the colors tell the story. Of course we expect the wins to go down as the competition gets upgraded. I’m quickly running out of time and would like to get this posted, so w/o much commentary, it doesn’t take a genius to see we might need a little Lady Luck to obtain a birth into the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Getting back to games 21 thru 42 where we were 11 & 11
I’ve included the infamous and ghastly Point Differential Chart to look at this stretch.
For those who haven’t seen this chart, it is a chart of point differentials, the season average, a 21 game average, and a 7 game average, plotted against each other. The shorter term 7 game average looks at a smaller segment of the season and gives you an idea of how the Blazers have performed short-term in comparison to the season. Each data point is an average of the last 7 games.
Included is a "strength of schedule" chart to better evaluate the point differential chart.
The difficulty stat (i.e. strength of schedule) is a crude stat I created to gauge the toughness of the opponent. It also looks at the average toughness of the last seven games, so it should be viewed in comparison with the 7 game point differential stat. It is based on what "jscot" and others have posted about good teams at home, bad teams at home, good teams away, and bad teams away. I’ve updated this indicator to also include the win% of the opponents. This stat oscillates between one and zero, the closer to one the more difficult the schedule.
It’s OK to see the 7 game average dip below season average (and 21 game average), but we want to see this 7 game average spend more of it’s time above the other two averages. But as I said at game 29 when I first posted this chart, if the 21 game average dips below the season average we have good cause to start worrying. It means for a stretch of 21 games we under-performed our season average, this is significant.
Not only did the 21 game average dip below the season average, but at game 40 it hit ZERO (0.05 to be exact). A point differential of ZERO is essentially a .500 team and why we were 11 & 11 in games 21 thru 42.
I have several thoughts as to why.
1st We have had some injuries.
Clippers -game 25 Roy injures finger
Toronto - end of game 31 Roy injures hamstring - misses next 4 games
Boston - Joel breaks left wrist, game 32
Philadelphia - Blake injured shoulder game 38
2nd The Rookie wall
Our rookies get a ton of playing time, and w/o RLEC we are the youngest team in the NBA. And how much does Raef play. 0 times 50 games = ZERO. Another thing to remember is THE WALL isn’t just for rookies. A 2nd year player is going to hit the wall at some point also. My personal opinion on this is until about the ages 25 – 27 conditioning is a big part of the game.
3rd Get the ball down low and feed Oden. Get the ball down low and feed Oden. Get the ball down low and feed Oden. Get the ball down low and feed Oden. Get the ball down low and feed Oden. Get the ball down low and feed Oden. Get the ball down low and feed Oden. Get the ball down low and feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden. Feed Oden.
Hallelujah we got to see a little of this in the New York game. Let the Big guy foul out for the sake of decency. He’s already in the flow of the game and can better adjust.
4th For me this is the big one. The Blazers lead the league in victories when down at the end of the third quarter. This is good in that it shows us we have the talent level to win. But it’s bad in that it proves we are sand bagging. As Nate has already said, due to this very thing, we have the horses let’s run. But that message is not coming across.
It’s very hard to watch yet another high pick N roll with nothing else happening away from the ball. I would like to see our opponent’s legs burning by the early part of the 4th quarter. But when all they have to do is stand there, it’s not going to happen. Subbing in a deep bench doesn’t do a thing if we’re not going to play with intensity and scrappiness.
I’ve been a big proponent of standing pat trade-wise beyond our big 3 (Roy, Oden, LMA), but frankly I’m losing hope in the 15=16 philosophy. If we’re not actually going to use that idea we likely should consolidate talent. There is absolutely no doubt that we are playing far beyond our youth. The big question is, how many players in this young group can parlay their skill set to the next level?
And then I have questions about Roy’s slow pace fitting in with that philosophy. In reality I think Roy’s pace can mesh fine with it. We’ve seen some games with great movement and a ton of intensity, and I can’t remember us playing poorly in those games.
The latter end of this post has a negative tone, and I’m not really as down about the team as I sound. My biggest hope is that when we get healthy all this will turn around with the easy schedule, and hopefully will get our legs (literally) back under us for a good first round of the playoffs. I love watching this team when they play some scrappy ball.
Well, thirty-two games to go, let’s play ball.
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