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Stats for Mr. Simmons:
The Bad Coaching Index

Bill Simmons Sports Guy A response to Bill Simmons,
ESPN's "The Sports Guy"


We get lots of great requests to produce original statistics governing all kinds of the finer points relating to NBA teams and players. While sadly we don't get around to cranking out the numbers for many of these suggestions, the Jan 12th, 2006 column by Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy, caught our eye.

In it, Bill discusses his theory that Doc Rivers is a lousy coach for the Celtics, and that Boston would be better served by getting a new coach than trading away their best player Paul Pierce. Indeed, he states:

Somebody on this planet needs to come up with stats to determine things like "double-digit leads blown in the fourth quarter," "crunch-time field goal percentage," "24-second violations in the fourth quarter," "botched two-for-one possessions at the end of a quarter," "number of games in which your coach accidentally ran out of timeouts" and "number of times your final play of the quarter caused your fans to scream obscenities and throw a remote control." If these stats existed, the 2005-06 Boston Celtics would be seen in an entirely different light. I promise you.

Well, when it comes to NBA statistics, we've got game.

1) Blown Leads/Comebacks
If you're going to look at how often teams blow fourth quarter (and overtime) leads, it's only fair to examine how often they record comebacks as well. Additionally you want to factor in how often a team has a lead/deficit, since if you're almost always behind you won't have many chances to choke!

2005-06 Season thru Jan. 12th
1+ Point
4+ Point
8+ Point
% Based
Team
Come
Backs
Blown
Leads
Come
Backs
Blown
Leads
Come
Backs
Blown
Leads
Come Backs
Blown Leads
 Atlanta 10  17%  53% 
 Boston 22%  39% 
 Charlotte 10  15%  48% 
 Chicago 23%  32% 
 Cleveland 40%  13% 
 Dallas 44%  19% 
 Denver 11  25%  38% 
 Detroit 58%  10% 
 Golden State 25%  19% 
 Houston 15%  37% 
 Indiana 18%  17% 
 L.A. Clippers 26%  14% 
 L.A. Lakers 26%  25% 
 Memphis 21%  12% 
 Miami 25%  19% 
 Milwaukee 10  40%  18% 
 Minnesota 19%  33% 
 New Jersey 32%  0% 
 New Orleans 21%  28% 
 New York 22%  37% 
 Orlando 9%  32% 
 Philadelphia 18%  35% 
 Phoenix 40%  21% 
 Portland 20%  31% 
 Sacramento 20%  30% 
 San Antonio 38%  10% 
 Seattle 20%  29% 
 Toronto 25%  37% 
 Utah 35%  14% 
 Washington 30%  33% 

How to read this table: the numbers represent the number of comeback wins and blown lead losses for each team based on the margin level (eg 8+ point comebacks represent games where the team came back to win after being down by 8+ points at some point during the 4th quarter or overtime). The "% Based" numbers show how often a team came back to win as an expression of comeback wins/total games with a 4th qtr deficit, and similarly with blowing a lead and losing.

So this season the Celtics have had more blown leads than comeback wins, and their nine total blown leads is tied for 4th worst in the NBA (Denver has blown the most leads with 11 losses where they were ahead at some point in the fourth quarter/overtime). On a percentage basis, the Celtics are third worst in the league, having lost 39% of games where they had a lead at some point in the fourth quarter on.

New Jersey meanwhile has yet to blow a lead late, while Milwaukee have been the comeback kings with ten victories where they trailed in the later stages. The worst offenders for blowing big leads would appear to be the Sixers, who have let the other team win five times already when Philadelphia led by 8+ points at some point in the final quarter!

These are very small samples though, so let's do the same exercise for last year:

2004-05 Regular Season
1+ Point
4+ Point
8+ Point
% Based
Team
Come
Backs
Blown
Leads
Come
Backs
Blown
Leads
Come
Backs
Blown
Leads
Come Backs
Blown Leads
 Atlanta 18  12  9%  58% 
 Boston 25  16  12  13  40%  26% 
 Charlotte 20  12  11%  53% 
 Chicago 19  14  35%  23% 
 Cleveland 13  18%  24% 
 Dallas 17  41%  12% 
 Denver 17  12  34%  16% 
 Detroit 16  11  12  36%  17% 
 Golden State 12  15  10  20%  31% 
 Houston 14  13  31%  20% 
 Indiana 18  13  13  32%  23% 
 L.A. Clippers 22  12  17%  37% 
 L.A. Lakers 18  17  11  27%  33% 
 Memphis 15  12  10  29%  21% 
 Miami 16  11  10  41%  16% 
 Milwaukee 11  19  12  17%  39% 
 Minnesota 15  14  12  28%  24% 
 New Jersey 13  11  25%  21% 
 New Orleans 23  12  10%  56% 
 New York 12  22  13  20%  40% 
 Orlando 16  14  26%  28% 
 Philadelphia 20  16  15  13  34%  27% 
 Phoenix 18  10  12  47%  14% 
 Portland 12  17  18%  39% 
 Sacramento 18  12  12  36%  19% 
 San Antonio 12  11  10  34%  16% 
 Seattle 18  38%  15% 
 Toronto 14  20  13  13  22%  38% 
 Utah 12  18  11  18%  41% 
 Washington 25  15  15  13  40%  25% 

It was a different story for Doc and the Celtics in 04-05 as they recorded comebacks 40% of the time they were behind, while only blowing leads 26% of the time. Their comeback win% was tied for 4th best in the NBA. How much responsibility should the coach bear for these stats? We'll let you decide.

Team Crunch Time Stats
We have published "clutch" stats for players since day one of this site (eg see Kobe Bryant in the clutch), but defining what you mean by clutch time is one of the keys.

Originally our definition was 4th quarter on when neither team was ahead by more than five points, but Rick Barry convinced us to change that to "last five minutes of the fourth quarter/overtime" to focus on the real game deciding minutes. So that's what we will use here to examine Bill's crunch time shooting question.

On OFFENSE
2005-06 Season thru Jan. 12th
Last five minutes of 4th Quarter/Overtime where neither team is ahead by more than five points
Team
FG
eFG
Ast'd
Blk'd
Close
FT
OReb
T/O
Rating*
 New Jersey
.520
.573
36%
7%
47%
.828
45%
9%
144.1
 Milwaukee
.479
.526
24%
5%
41%
.728
32%
8%
128.2
 Utah
.422
.482
26%
1%
30%
.773
39%
12%
125.4
 Memphis
.469
.526
26%
10%
37%
.833
28%
13%
124.4
 Golden State
.472
.556
25%
5%
30%
.750
23%
10%
123.8
 Cleveland
.457
.505
22%
7%
47%
.780
32%
12%
123.7
 L.A. Clippers
.495
.540
30%
6%
21%
.821
26%
10%
122.4
 Detroit
.406
.444
20%
5%
26%
.737
48%
11%
122.1
 Denver
.453
.483
28%
7%
41%
.807
36%
14%
119.6
 Dallas
.411
.444
17%
8%
31%
.706
34%
6%
118.4
 Seattle
.389
.437
21%
0%
27%
.817
44%
18%
114.3
 New Orleans
.354
.367
18%
9%
34%
.803
32%
8%
113.3
 Sacramento
.400
.453
31%
7%
23%
.800
33%
12%
112.4
 NBA Average
.414
.454
22%
6%
33%
.760
33%
12%
112.3
 L.A. Lakers
.410
.452
19%
6%
30%
.733
32%
10%
112.1
 Phoenix
.429
.480
25%
4%
26%
.824
30%
12%
111.5
 New York
.398
.410
11%
5%
45%
.692
39%
11%
111.4
 Chicago
.431
.474
23%
8%
34%
.753
27%
11%
111.2
 Houston
.413
.468
22%
6%
35%
.873
27%
15%
109.5
 Atlanta
.462
.508
24%
5%
32%
.679
35%
18%
109.1
 Orlando
.367
.405
15%
6%
39%
.813
39%
12%
108.4
 Toronto
.419
.473
22%
7%
30%
.763
36%
18%
106.9
 Boston
.375
.408
19%
11%
36%
.802
32%
15%
104.8
 Minnesota
.412
.441
22%
7%
33%
.674
37%
13%
103.4
 Miami
.391
.435
22%
5%
28%
.604
36%
14%
102.4
 Washington
.374
.409
16%
4%
32%
.719
28%
12%
102.0
 Indiana
.338
.368
21%
4%
28%
.712
32%
14%
100.0
 San Antonio
.392
.418
17%
7%
31%
.736
24%
13%
100.0
 Charlotte
.376
.387
19%
6%
30%
.714
35%
11%
96.5
 Portland
.371
.387
20%
10%
40%
.761
34%
16%
95.5
 Philadelphia
.336
.359
17%
8%
34%
.750
22%
12%
92.0
*Rating = Points per 100 Possessions

Yes, the Celtics crunch time offense has been below average, with a poor field goal percentage, a high turnover rate, and the league's highest rate of getting their shots blocked!

Ah, but offense is only half the story, so let's complete the picture:

On DEFENSE
2005-06 Season thru Jan. 12th
Last five minutes of 4th Quarter/Overtime where neither team is ahead by more than five points
Team
FG
eFG
Ast'd
Blk'd
Close
FT
OReb
T/O
Rating*
 San Antonio
.310
.323
19%
6%
30%
.635
32%
8%
86.2
 Milwaukee
.350
.385
15%
7%
27%
.692
17%
9%
90.6
 Chicago
.375
.401
21%
4%
35%
.831
26%
17%
96.6
 New Jersey
.381
.421
19%
3%
33%
.795
28%
17%
102.3
 Sacramento
.397
.436
23%
4%
36%
.838
23%
12%
105.3
 L.A. Clippers
.356
.377
20%
10%
36%
.741
36%
8%
105.7
 Dallas
.372
.410
15%
10%
31%
.810
33%
11%
106.1
 Charlotte
.386
.433
21%
9%
28%
.721
37%
16%
106.2
 Memphis
.390
.425
19%
6%
30%
.754
40%
15%
106.7
 Detroit
.409
.436
16%
7%
35%
.824
35%
16%
107.0
 Phoenix
.424
.456
18%
4%
40%
.649
33%
14%
108.0
 Washington
.414
.454
21%
6%
32%
.667
37%
14%
108.0
 Boston
.452
.473
20%
5%
37%
.770
28%
17%
109.0
 Portland
.366
.403
20%
7%
28%
.756
33%
9%
109.9
 Utah
.362
.396
21%
12%
32%
.725
38%
8%
110.3
 Minnesota
.433
.476
26%
9%
40%
.721
34%
14%
110.4
 Golden State
.426
.452
23%
6%
36%
.794
41%
18%
111.2
 Toronto
.454
.500
26%
4%
36%
.786
34%
17%
111.4
 Indiana
.444
.493
22%
10%
31%
.698
26%
14%
112.2
 Atlanta
.423
.459
26%
7%
38%
.761
31%
14%
113.7
 Miami
.451
.500
26%
6%
34%
.817
34%
14%
120.3
 Seattle
.410
.475
24%
6%
31%
.815
40%
13%
120.5
 New York
.415
.483
20%
3%
26%
.805
29%
10%
120.9
 L.A. Lakers
.450
.500
25%
5%
37%
.698
38%
10%
121.0
 Orlando
.500
.542
22%
4%
38%
.674
27%
9%
121.1
 Philadelphia
.432
.460
18%
6%
39%
.794
36%
9%
122.1
 New Orleans
.456
.524
22%
4%
33%
.821
39%
11%
124.8
 Cleveland
.440
.470
19%
3%
33%
.870
29%
5%
125.9
 Denver
.473
.527
30%
7%
29%
.817
37%
9%
126.9
 Houston
.450
.484
30%
3%
23%
.792
38%
10%
127.3

On defense the Celtics have a more credible performance in crunch time, forcing a high number of turnovers, and limiting second chances on the offensive glass. Unfortunately for Boston, they have also allowed a relatively high field goal percentage, but on the plus side they don't send their opponents to the free throw line that often.

The surprise clutch team must be the Milwaukee Bucks -- ranking #2 on offense, and #2 on defense. Of course, one wonders if they can keep that pace up.

Other "Bad Coaching Index" Numbers

Bill has a few other off the wall 'fun' numbers to look at. It turns out though that Boston hasn't committed a particularly high number of 24-second violations in the fourth quarter, and actually their opponents have committed more. In terms of the botched '2 for 1' opportunities that's a good subject to bring up, but something we will address shortly in another article. Finally we're still working on a way to filter the databases for 'accidentally running out of timeouts' and 'causing fans to throw remotes' -- we'll just take Mr. Simmons' word that Doc has been guilty of a fair amount of that.

Is Doc a bad coach? We won't answer that, but one thing we would agree with is that trading Paul Pierce for anything less than fair value would be a big, big mistake:

- Paul Pierce, Production/Counterpart Production by Position
- Paul Pierce, On Court/Off Court comparison ('05-06)
- Paul Pierce, On Court/Off Court comparison ('04-05)

Also see:
Stats for Mr. Simmons II: coach substitution numbers and results


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