Monday’s Den: Thoughts on basketball, and other stuff……..

Allow me a minute here to pat myself on the back; I don’t do this very often, but in this case, I think it is deserved.

On one of the NBA games Sunday, they were talking about plus-minus as a mainstream stat and I felt ten feet tall. There was a time a long time ago where plus-minus got me laughed at.

My work study job in college (1977-82) was keeping stats for football/basketball games for our college team at Albany. My real love is basketball, and I’ve always tried to come up with different metrics to help the coaches I worked for measure their team. In short, I was a basketball nerd way before it was a profitable enterprise. My timing hasn’t always been the greatest.

One day we were driving back from a football game, and I was thinking about the upcoming basketball season; someone in the car was talking about hockey, and mentioned a player’s plus-minus. Plus/minus is the score of the game while that player was on the ice, minus any goals scored while someone had a man advantage. Plus/minus was and still is a big NHL stat.

Suddenly it dawned on me; why not do this for basketball? Why couldn’t each player have his own plus/minus for each game? So I started doing it; as far as I knew, no one else in America was using this as a basketball stat. Of course, I was wrong.

Philadelphia 76ers had a legendary stat guy named Harvey Pollack; he was doing plus-minus too, as part of his media package for 76ers games. I regret that I never got to meet Mr Pollack; I couldn’t learned a lot from him.

For one individual game, plus/minus can be misleading, but over the course of a season, it is a telling stat. Plus/minus for player combos is also a really good metric; some guys just mesh well together, and should be on the floor at the same time. Others should not be.

(Side note: the guy who subs in for the best player often suffers in plus/minus, since he doesn’t get to play with the best player).

Some of the best stuff that has happened in my life revolved around my work with basketball teams and statistics; U of Albany, Schenectady HS, Guilderland HS. Being a nerd is more fun than it looks like from the outside.

9) I keep weird hours; I’m watching Korean baseball Saturday night/Sunday morning and I see on Twitter where someone is posting pics of horses getting ready to work out at Saratoga. To them, it was already Sunday morning. To me, it was still Saturday night.

8) Neighbors across the street must’ve had a hall of a party Saturday; before I went off to bed around 6am, I look out the window and there is a black Corvette parked diagonally on the lawn across the street. Pretty nice car to be parked like that.

7) Major league baseball season is roughly half-over; we’re also a week away from the trade deadline. Blue Jays acquired DH-type Daniel Vogelbach from Seattle. Toronto is 13-13, tied for the second Wild Card slot.

6) Tampa Bay Rays have eight different pitchers with a save this season; they also have nine pitchers on the Injured List.

NBA playoff games (all Game 4’s):
5) Dallas 135, Clippers 133 OT (series 2-2)
— Tremndous game; Dallas wins after trailing by 21 at one point.
— Luka Doncic is 3rd player in NBA postseason history with a 40-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist game, joining Charles Barkley (1993) and Oscar Robertson (1963)
— Last three games, Paul George is 10-47 from the floor.

4) Toronto 150, Brooklyn 122 (Raptors win, 4-0)
— Game was 77-68 at halftime.
— Toronto’s subs scored 100 points in this game. Their subs.
— Nets can begin their coaching search now.

3) Boston 110, Philadelphia 106 (Celtics win 4-0)
— Sixers were down a hoop when Tobias Harris was knocked out of the game.
— Natives are restless in Philly; hard to imagine coach Brown keeping his job.
— Kemba Walker led the Celtics with 32 points.

2) Utah 129, Denver 127 (Jazz lead 3-1)
— First playoff game ever where both teams had a guy score 50+ points.
— Joe Ingels played 35:00, didn’t score a point, but also didn’t have a turnover; he was +8
— Jamal Murray made 9-15 on the arc, scored 50 points in a losing cause.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Chicago, Tor/Balt

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colo/NYM/SF

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.