Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 3:01 pm  |  57 responses

Links: Hawks/Heat and Playoff Predictions

Plus, the hot hand doesn’t exist?

by Lang Whitaker

Lots of stuff today…

• First off, Tupac was apparently at the Celts game the other night. Love that he was wearing a Steph (or Antoine Walker) jersey.

• Just got an email that the NBA had their tiebreaker drawing for the Draft today. It shook out like this:

Washington (19-63) won a tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Clippers
Minnesota (24-58) won a tiebreaker with Memphis
Milwaukee (34-48) won a tiebreaker with New Jersey
Chicago (41-41) won a tiebreaker with Philadelphia
Portland (54-28) won a tiebreaker with Denver and San Antonio; San Antonio then won a tiebreaker with Denver

This means the Lottery order breaks down thusly…

1. Sacramento
2. Washington
3. LA Clippers
4. Oklahoma City
5. Minnesota
6. Memphis
7. Golden State
8. New York
9. Toronto
10. Milwaukee
11. New Jersey
12. Charlotte
13. Indiana
14. Phoenix

Maybe Ricky should stay in Spain after all.

• Henry Abbott has an epic post today on TrueHoop about basketball and the hot hand, specifically citing a recent study that seems to assert that there is no such thing as a player being hot.

As Henry writes…

When they got to the key point, the findings were powerful. Sandy Weil summarizes it in an e-mail: “What we found is that, contrary to the existence of the hot hand, the 49 prolific shooters in our sample are less likely to make a shot after a made basket than after a miss.”

You get that? If your guy has just made a shot, it slightly decreases the chance that his next shot will go in.

“We found this effect stronger if the player made a jump shot on the previous shot than if they had made a non-jumper (mostly layups and dunks). The average of the players in our study shoots about 46.7% on a shot after missing his previous shot. But if he made a non-jumper, he’ll shoot around 45%. And after a made jump shot, he’ll shoot around 43.3%,” explains Weil.

So what that means is that if you’re looking for the guy most likely to make the next shot — what any coach would want in a late game timeout — this survey of nearly a million shots taken by great scorers suggest you’re slightly better off going with the guy who missed his last shot.

I get that. If NBA players were more likely to make a shot than miss a shot after a made shot, they’d all be shooting like 75 percent, right? It’s like playing blackjack and betting more after you get a bad hand, because you suspect that you’re more likely to get a good hand coming up.

Henry sums it up with…

In other words, counting on the hot hand was always dangerous. Actual basketball strategy is far superior. That was true before this study, it’s still true after, and that’s something we really know.

Agreed. And if I’m reading the post right, the main point of all this is that an offense trying to force shots from a player who is hot — I’m sorry, “seems to be” hot — is a bad idea, because there’s no such thing as a hot hand if players are more likely to miss than make a shot after a make.

It’s an interesting notion. But I kinda wish those guys didn’t come up with that research to prove the hot hand doesn’t exist, because I think that means this never happened:

• The big story in New York this week has been the opening of the new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees. The Yankees spent $1.5 billion — yes, billion — on their new stadium. Having been to the old Yankee Stadium a few times, I agree that a new stadium was needed, because the old Stadium was, well, old, with crowded hallways and crumbling infrastructure.

What’s odd, however, about the new Stadium is that, at least on TV, it looks EXACTLY THE SAME as the old stadium. The outfield walls, the foul territory, even the placement of the cameras — it’s all completely identical to the old Stadium. For a team with so much tradition and history, I understand not wanting to completely change things up, but when you spend $1.5 billion on a new stadium, it might be worth your money to make it look like you’re playing in a new stadium.

At the risk of riling up any Mets fans, I’d like to congratulate the Mets on putting together the most hilarious new stadium opening in recent memory. First, the national anthem for the first home game in the new stadium was performed by…a New York icon? Billy Joel? Bruce Springsteen? No, the cast of West Side Story.

Then, Jody Gerut led off the game for the Padres against Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. I was watching live and thinking, OK, first pitch, new stadium, lots of pressure and excitement—Pelfrey is definitely going to try and throw a strike right across the plate to start out. So if I’m Gerut I’m swinging for the fences on pitch one, right? Well, Gerut took the pitch, which was a fastball, belt-high, right across the plate. I was thinking, There was your chance to ruin the home opener! Gerut took the next pitch for a ball, then, with a 1-1 count, pulled the next pitch down the line for a home run. Welcome to CitiField, everyone!

The Mets dramatically battled back to tie the game, until the Mets’ expensive and vaunted bullpen balked in the winning run, and then the Padres went to their bullpen and brought in Duaner Sanchez, who was cut by the Mets in spring training, and Heath Bell, who the Mets traded a few years ago, to shut down the Mets and ruin the home opener.

I, however, really enjoyed it.

(Meanwhile, my Braves are all injured again. Yunel Escobar, our dope shortstop, got hurt yesterday jumping up and down in the on deck circle. Really. Sigh.)

• I hope you guys caught “30 Rock” last night. I’ve only pimping that show here for oh…three years now? Last night’s episode had a great NBA reference: Tina Fey’s character had to take a seminar on sexual harassment in the work place, and NBC distributed booklets to all the employees about sexual harassment. Someone asked Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) if he was going to read it, and he said, “I don’t need to. The whole thing is loosely based on an evening I spent with Isiah Thomas.”

• While we’re talking about entertainment, here’s five blockbuster movies I’m looking forward to this summer, in no particular order:
— Land Of The Lost
— Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
— Terminator Salvation
— Inglorious Basterds
— Public Enemies

• OK, onto the Playoffs. Ryne spent the last day matching writers with the different series, so once again we’ll have the Playoffs covered every which way but loose. Surprisingly, I’ll be on top of the Hawks/Heat series. I can’t make it to ATL this weekend for Round One, because we’ve got too much work left to finish up on the new issue of SLAM, but I think I’ll hit Games 3 and 4 in MIA. And my main man DeMarco Williams is going to be at the games in Atlanta for SLAMonline, so we’ll have notes, anyway.

I wrote an extensive series preview yesterday for Hawks.com, which you can check out here.  (Yeah, you have sign up on the site, but it’s free and you don’t get inundated with email.)

Basically, I think the series is Atlanta’s to lose. Just going through the match-ups, Atlanta’s better at every starting spot except the 2 (and I honestly don’t think Joe Johnson gives up that much to Wade). Miami has a deeper bench, but the Hawks have better players available. And the Hawks have home court. So I’m taking Atlanta in this one, in 6.

• And because I went 7-for-8 on the first round last year, I’ll give my quick first round predictions for this year as well:
Cleveland-Detroit: Cavs
Boston-Chicago: Boston
Orlando-Philly: Orlando, though I think this might be the most exciting series of Round One, maybe even 7 games.
Lakers-Jazz: LA
Denver-New Orleans: I’m thinking New Orleans is going to extend George Karl’s first round woes.
San Antonio-Dallas: Dallas finally ends San Antonio’s every-other-year trips to the Finals.
Portland-Houston: Houston

• That’s it for now…let’s get the Playoffs started! Have a great weekend…I’ll be twittering during the games. If I don’t get inspired and post something here on SLAMonline.com this weekend, catch you guys next week…

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  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com B. Long

    I like your playoff picks and your summer movie picks too, Lang. You should add “Hangover” to the movie list. I already laughed more at the preview for it than I did the entire time I watched “Love You, Man”.

  • Ken

    That Hot-hand stuff is interesting. But keep in mind, the study is a sample of all shooters, and not just the ones who are supposedly streaky. That’d make for a tighter study.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    If you guys see a stray baseball cap fly onto the court during Game 4 in Miami…..believe that I caught Lang in a chinlock and dropped him like the Heat will have done to be up 3-1 at that point.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Bruce Springsteen is from New Jersey. And the Yankees screwed the pooch even more in their home opener, so eat it. Also, statistics have proven that there are no such thing as people.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    “(and I honestly don’t think Joe Johnson gives up that much to Wade).” You guys really think Lang meant to write that…..or he just forget to edit it….’cause that sh*t’s off the chain silly.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    The study has a huge flaw: Just because a person makes a shot, doesn’t mean he’s GOT THE HOT HAND. Making two or three shots in a row means he has the hot hand. Hitting one and missing another means he DOESN’T have the hot hand. That’s an incredibly stupid study.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @B. Long: Good call — I heard “Hangover” is great.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    Eboy: who are these deep Miami bench players that Lang mentioned? I don’t remember them.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Well…..I have to thank Lang for making my Friday with the video…..and oh yeah…..Kanye told ripped off Horace 16 years too late with the white glasses thing.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    *totally. Lang’s trying to hype himself up like the Hawks are the underdog or some sh*t, Jukai…..I know where his head’s at.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Izzo

    I know it already flopped due to no marketing in the US,but I’m looking forward to Adventureland.I’m also looking forward to Mike Judge’s(Idiocracy,Office Space,Beavis and Butthead) new movie,which will also flop.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Lang: I honestly don’t think Joe Johnson gives up that much to Wade…
    Audience: Hahahahahahah!
    Lang: I’ll be there all night, folks!

  • AlbertBarr

    I am definitely going to agree with Lang on the Hornets extending GKs first round woes. But I am going with Eboy on the Joe Johnson comment…silly.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Jukai, that is a GREAT point and it TOTALLY invalidates the study. I was reading the article earlier today and I can’t believe I missed that. So did Henry Abbott. And an economics prof from UChi. And everybody at the MIT conf. I’m not even sarcastif, the study is bollocks.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    In fairness to Lang, Wade and Johnson are pretty close in just about every aspect of the game… for the exception of scoring, rebounding, passing, playing defense, disrupting the offense with steals, blocking weakside shots, leading a team, and winning championships.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Actually, the “deep” comment wasn’t from me, it was from Dwyane Wade in SLAM 127: “With the team that we have that’s kinda deep, they’re able to give me a lot of rest, so I’m more efficient when I’m on the court. So that’s been cause for a better year thus far. I don’t think I’ve never been a part of a team that’s played 11 guys before.”

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    Place the blame on Wade, Lang, real mature!!!!

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    Terminator: Slavation looks like the sh1t.
    And Hangover looks funny, too.
    I thought the firsttransformer movie was wack though, can’t say I’m interested at all in another one.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Uhm…..well, what Dwyane forget to add was that “in previous years…we could roll 7 for long stretches ’cause I had the Big Fella that was motivated for 2 seasons and we had Zo coming in that made things easy for the rest of us on the defensive end. Today…..11 guys of this talent level equals 7 of those previous Heat teams so it’s a process.”

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    Wade is clearly better overall than Joe Johnson, but Joe is the better shooter and plays on the more talented team. I think it’ll take 20 ppg on good shooting as well as some defensive plays from Beasley for the Heat to win this series. But if all of the Hawks starters play well, I’m not sure if Miami has a shot at winning more than the 2-3 games where wade goes off.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    ciolk…..do we need to address the Spurs now or shall we wait until 5 games pass and they’re on the doorstep of leaving us all until October.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I expect lots of mea culpas if the Hawks win.

  • http://www.legacyelite.blogspot.com MIchael M. Butler

    Lang, why is Stern pushing make the crab dribble legal next year? LeBron already has half of the League’s front office on his side. What else does need to dominate?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Who’s fault will it be is the question?

  • riggs

    not to be a d*ck lang but if you think the new stadium looks identical to the old one then you havent been there much in my opinion anyway

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Brandon Jennings running the point at OKC?
    Wolverine should be an awesome movie too.

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    Talk sh1t if you want to E. But my squad has a real winning pedigree, not a one year reunion tour of stars past, aided by one of the worst examples of officiaring in the history of the pro game. Not to mention the Heat are still just the 5 seed in an Eastern conference that lacks true depth of great teams. Wade is great, but I still think the Hawks make it to the 2nd round. And so will the Spurs.

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    Crap. Officiaring = Officiating.

  • Blinguo

    Hot hand? ’06 LeBron final 28 of 30 in 4th and overtime over the Pistons onto the Finals. Rasheed was so pissed he went on a diatribe like he lost in Street Fighter 2 about “cheesin’ cheatin’ mofos” and David Stern the man who wants all that European stuff in the Finals and ratings and that ain’t basketball and on and on and on. He still hasn’t fully recovered.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I like to rattle these dum dum’s with just a few words. Thanks ciolk for buying in!

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    Whatever, E. You just run your mouth. We’ll see what happens.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Your sh*t did the overexaggerated spouting ciolk. Well see is right though.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @Russ: I think you meant “when” the Hawks win.

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    Really? A mets attack? Thanks lang. F*ck. Good summer movie picks though. Wolverine was really good too even the rough version.

  • Blinguo

    2nd try @ this comment…

    Eboy/Lang throw down the bet, as ATL/MIA 1st round will no doubt be the highest 1st round comments matchup of the playoff season based on the regulars and a Lang Vs. Eboy back and forth alone, a real comment-stigate(like linkstigators) fiasco.

    Does Eboy have to acknowledge Joe Johnson as a Dwade equal if ATL takes the series? Eboy will def have a better bet up his sleeve right off the top, a crude example I have is, Eboy gets to write the entire NOYZ in the NBA Finals wrap-up Slam in the Summer if MIA takes it to round 2?

  • http://www.legacyelite.blogspot.com MIchael M. Butler

    “Hot hand? ‘06 LeBron final 28 of 30 in 4th and overtime over the Pistons onto the Finals. Rasheed was so pissed he went on a diatribe like he lost in Street Fighter 2 about “cheesin’ cheatin’ mofos” and David Stern the man who wants all that European stuff in the Finals and ratings and that ain’t basketball and on and on and on. He still hasn’t fully recovered.”

    But man, he wasn’t that far off:

    LeBron travels approximately 30% of the time he comes down the lane and uses his crab dribble whenever he pleases during the course of an average Cavaliers game. The League’s front office is oblivous to this, and has worked to implement defensive three second in the key, no hand-checking, zone defenses now legal legislation to continue to anoint him as the NBA’s latest and greatest demigod. I totally respect the international game as a Hispanic and as a writer, but this getting to be ridiculous. With the stuff being “illegal” now, he’s almost averaging a triple-double. What’s going to happen next year?

    P.S.: The Hawks are beating the Heat.

  • http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    The hot hand stuff makes sense, it’s just about how good a shooter you are. If you’re a good shooter, you’re going to have more good runs. If you’re bad, you’re going to have fewer, but you still might have some, but the rest of the time you won’t shoot so well.

  • Blinguo

    Hey to bring that to the forefront of the next game you need a coach willing to say it loud to the media the very next morning, if not that press conference, or locker room QA to the reporters. Getting a fine by the NBA shows they are indeed watching and I don’t recall any coach getting that fine 2 games in a row, and more so remember a balance of power shift as ESPN blows up the story with ABC, and TNT debating it in breaks and pre-post game about did he really, should they stop him if its cheating the game. The Pistons didn’t have Larry Brown coaching anymore, thus Flip wasn’t going to stick his already weary neck out on the line for Motown who thought he wasn’t making the right in game decisions, and thus probably spent more time worrying about the team’s offense, not even noticing the LeBron crab dribble. It wasn’t like it was super obvious like during Washington games, in the playoffs and during this season where it became a big issue. LeBron in that game was hot from outside, it wasn’t the usual stereotype LeBron just snowballed and bowling balled his way into the lane. Nor was it a highlight reel of FTA after FTM, charity striping the game back into the Cavs hands. But I didn’t want to detract from the rest of the topic with another LeBron debate, that was to acknowledge a very recent hot streak by a forefront superstar player that should have been known before the study was ever gaining ground.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Stat geeks are more or less ruining sports. Just because you were in your room studying calculus when everyone else was outside having fun doesn’t mean you have to try and get revenge now. Nerds.

  • Blinguo

    that should also be 06-07 LeBron, 07 Playoffs(Finals), edit.

  • http://mindyourbusiness@getalife.com Allenp

    When Jukai is pointing out logical flaws in your study you’ve failed…
    I noticed the same thing though. Like, when does hitting one shot make you hot?
    Only chuckers think they are hot after hitting one shot. It’s gotta be at least two or three, and you have to get that special tingle. Otherwise, it’s all in your mind.
    Anybody who has actually been hot, knows that it exists. It’s kind of like God.

  • Superman Osman

    Tupac is alive! and one of the comments says Tupac been rollin blunts on cuban theighs LMAO. Nice jersey pick I mean seriously a number 8! WHOA Dave Chappelle, that ain’t your wife haha.

    A hot hand is more a mood thing, depending on the shooter of course. The less the FG % the more likely he’ll slip early. Which of course is not MJ Lang.

    Boy I sure hope Dallas can edge the Spurs ut for once, but Pop is way too sneaky to slip in the 1st round. He’ll make his gameplan an “Upset Jet” or “Get rid of Kidd” or “don’t get near Dampier” I dunno all I’m saying is I gotta see that to believe it. Game 1 starts tomorrow. Hello Beantown…

  • Coach Master

    I don’t have a problem with Tupac being at the game, but did he buy a ticket from St. Peter at the Pearly Gate? Look for the Wolves (with 3 first round picks) to take a lottery pick and bundle the others for veteran help.

  • Oli

    i got a better example of a hot hand: 1991 finals, game 2 where jordan hit like 15 shots in a row (when jordan went up, took that shot and switched hands – with his tongue out!)

  • Tommy Patron

    People continue to try to quantify everything. Who cares. It’s a GAME. To be played. I don’t go running into their trigonometry class trying to get them to run ladders.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    Eboy, shouldnt u wait for your team to win the series, THEN talk all the sh!t? And that is not Tupac, TUPAC WAS A LAKERS FAN! I am from the “Soulja Boy” generation (according to Ryan Jones’s generation labeling) and even i knew that.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Wade is better all around than Joe Johnson. It ain’t that close. But the rest of the Hawks are better all around than the rest of the Heat. And that ain’t close either. Hawks in 6.

  • http://slamonline.com Rob

    Yeah and Tupac has tattoo’s runnning down both arms. Unless they were airbrushed for the photo? Maybe he decided to switch loyalties as a distraction to fool people i.e BETCATS….who knows

  • Ty

    That is Antoine’s number. Marbury is a punk for asking for it.

  • scott

    Miami will win in 7.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Damnit, Lang starts writing on the regular again and i arrive late to comment on the latest Links. Oh well here goes. I absolutely loved reading this one, so bloody genius how you spent so much space explaining the “no hot hand” theory, then BOOM, you discredit it with “did you SEE that LOOK?”. That was great. you my friend, are a sly one, very nicely done. Btw, your Tupac line reminded me of the 30 Rock episode with LL, the source awards one? Remember what Cool J said to Donaghy towards the end when all hell broke loose? Exactly. Best comedy show on TV, no doubt. One more thing, on your Movie List, switch Land of the Lost for GI JOE, and you are all set. How the hell did you omit that one, this is almost as cool as when they announced Transformers a few years back…. dream come true.

  • http://www.legacyelite.blogspot.com Michael M. Butler

    “Stat geeks are more or less ruining sports. Just because you were in your room studying calculus when everyone else was outside having fun doesn’t mean you have to try and get revenge now. Nerds.”

    Russ / SlamEd: With all due respect.. I don’t know if you remember me from NT or wherever, but I’ve had a tough an experience grinding it with sports and otherwise as anyone you’ll ever meet. I’m far from a stats geek and if you read my blogs, you’d know that. You’re right: Certain intangibles created by some higher power can’t be quantized, as evidenced by the inexplicable success of Miroslav Satan, one of your favorite NHL players. But many things can.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Just one word for ya Lang: Wienerslave. (funcooker just got tossed out the window). Oh and yet another movie to see…. star Trek. JJ Abrams meets Sylar? Where do i sign up?

  • ChuppaChups

    The guy at the Celts game must have been wearing a Stephon Marbury jersey cos it says Adidas. Back when ‘Toine was in Boston, their jerseys were supplied by Reebok. Unless Adidas retro-ed Antoine’s jersey.

  • http://www.legacyelite.blogspot.com Michael M. Butler

    Yes; I still have to see the footage but I’m willing to bet that was a Reebook jersey, unless Mr. Vaccaro switched his allegiances in the midnight of the night like a former NFL front office urban legend…

  • http://www.legacyelite.blogspot.com Michael M. Butler

    And for the record Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Bengston, I know for a fact that the “hot hand” exists: As a streaky shooter when I get in a zone, no matter how awkward or off my release is, I cannot miss. Now whether or not the current and tentative NBA legislation has an effect on the “hot hand” and otherwise is an entirely different matter.

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