A Dose of Pre-Game 2 Statistics from Game 1
Before we delve into the numbers below, a quick observation about "home-court advantage." Houston did not "steal" it by winning Game 1 at Staples. It cannot be seized or stolen - it is still an absolute advantage for the Lakers. If there is a deciding Game 7, it will tip in downtown Los Angeles. Period.
The Rockets may be up a break, in tennis speak, but there's no way they can play more games at home than on the road in this series. So they can't gain a home-court advantage. Does the team that kicked off in football steal a "possession advantage" if they happen to score first?
Am I the only one who finds this terminology bizarre? I digress...
From the research department of Benicio Del Interno:
- 30-point Playoff Performances. Game 1 marked Kobe Bryant's 130th playoff game this decade and the 52nd time he has tallied at least 30 points, an even 40% of the time. In the last ten years, that's a higher percentage of 30-point playoff games than D-Wade (33% of the time), Shaq (26%) and Tim Duncan (22%). Newly crowned MVP LeBron James has dropped 30 in 24 of his first 51postseason contests, or 47% of the time.
What it means: Kobe Bryant is a prolific scorer! In other breaking news, we put a man on the moon. Seriously, it's impressive to note how often he hits 30 in the postseason relative to other great players of this generation - no one has done it more this decade.
- A Magic Number of Team Assists? The Lakers managed just 18 assists as a team Monday night (their regular season average was 23.2). For the season, they are 9-7 when dishing out 18 assists or less. I'm no mathematician, but that means they are 60-12 with at least 19 helpers. In the lone first round loss to Utah, the Purple and Gold amassed only 15 assists.
What it means: Sharing helps. Everyone always touts the defensive prowess of championship teams, but the other common thread every title team from the last few decades shares is great ball movement. The Lakers have exhibited championship-level movement of the rock when the offense has clicked this year, and their versatility - a 6-10 matchup nightmare in Odom, the high-post wizardry of Gasol, the low-post strength of Bynum, Kobe Bryant and a group of spot-up shooters - makes defending them a puzzle even John Nash can't solve. Too much one-on-one play nullifies those strengths.
- The Importance of Winning Game 1. Phil Jackson is 6-8 all-time when losing the first game of a playoff series and 42-0 when he wins the opener. But the Lakers have lost the last four playoff series (and five of the last six) in which they dropped the opening tilt. It has been five years since LA dropped a Game 1 and bounced back to claim the series - the 2004 Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio, when they lost the first two in Texas before reeling off four straight.
What it Means: Houston has a chance, although it might be as slim as Lloyd's shot with Mary Samsonite. Both Jackson and the Lakers don't have a glowing track record when dropping Game 1, but there is no need for anyone to panic. First, the sample size is small. Second – and most importantly – this team and these opponents have nothing to do with anything that happened years ago. Still, it would have been nice to take the opener and put the series to bed early.