Bench defense costs Bucks vs. Celtics

With a ton of work, I’ve constructed the kind of Offense/Defense Boxscore for the Milwaukee Bucks game against the Boston Celtics that I hope to one day produce for every NBA game without effort (or I hope somebody ELSE produces for every NBA game without effort — that’s probably the better chance of it happening).

As I’ve told you before, I’m so appallingly retro in my computer knowledge (which is not to say I’m a Luddite, which I absolutely am not), for me I have to construct these type things by hand, “Bean Factory” style (an homage to Bill James, who began his long road  into the American sports conscience by doing manual calculations of the 1976 Major League Baseball season while working nights as a security guard at the Stokeley Bean Factory in Lawrence, Kansas).

Click Here to see the Offense/Defense Boxscore. Or rather, “Comparative Production” Boxscore for the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics.

Unlike traditonal boxscores, the O/D Boxscore goes a lot further toward a full explanation of why the Bucks were clubbed by the Celtics on Saturday night.  If you look at the regular boxscore, its hard to tell where the blame for the loss ought to lay.  If you look at O/D, its easy to tell.

The Boston Celtics who were covered by the trio of Jerry Stackhouse, Ersan Ilyasova, and Luke Ridnour attempted, in total, 26 field goals.  Of those, an amazing 21 of those went through the opposition nets.  Unacceptable.  That is 81%.

The main culprit was Jerry Stackhouse, who could not handle Paul Pierce, Michael Finley, or any other Celtic player the Bucks assigned him to cover.  Tommy Heinsohn, the Boston Celtic color commentator, more than four decades and about seventy pounds removed from his Celtic playing days, could have lit Stackhouse up on Saturday night.  Stackhouse must tighten up.

To tell you the truth, though, I’m not that worried about Stackhouse’s defense.  Many of the shots were contested.  The Celtics just made them.

The player I am worried about is Ersan Ilyasova.  He got pushed around and manhandled by the worthless Cry Baby Davis.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, Ilyasova now has the physical build and productive game of a power forward, but his “defensive” game, if you will (or his “counter-production” game — like counter-terrorism… a term I’m going to try to adopt because its more all inclusive than defense) is still firmly lodged at the small forward position.  Thus he can put forward surprisingly good defensive efforts against perimeter oriented offensive power forwards like Dirk Nowitzki, but then turnaround and allow a more physical player, but clearly inferior player like Baby Davis to do whatever he wants.

Without Bogut, the Bucks will have a problem unless Ilyasova grows a set of nuts when it comes to defense in the post.

Positive performances from Jennings and the centers

On the plus side, the Bucks got terrific performances from places that looked to be weak spots.  Rookie Brandon Jennings used 3 point shooting to outplay Rajon Rondo, and the Bucks centers, Kurt Thomas and Dan Gadzuric held their own against the Celtics big men.  You cannot tell that from a traditional box score, O/D and the Win Score analysis make it plain.

Is Gadzuric a better answer?

I know Skiles has every reason to fear using Dan Gadzuric for long stints.  But he has to realize, and realize right now, that Ersan Ilyasova CANNOT play center.  In fact, Ilyasova, by the numbers, is a far worse center than Gadzuric.  I do not believe Gadzuric would have allowed Baby Davis to operate in the post with such efficiency.

I fully realize these statements could backfire on me because Gadzuric is not a good player.  But this is a positional argument.  Moving Ilyasova from his best position — power forward — to a position he clearly cannot play — center — has a destructive effect on the Bucks.

And while Gadzuric will not add all that much production, he might do a better job of holding down the opposition’s production and he would allow Ilyasova to concentrate on his most productive role.

Statistical Boning of Salmons

Here’s where you need to sometimes use your judgment.  As you can see, John Salmons committed only 2 personal fouls, yet his counterpart opponents went to the line 11 times and sank 11.  At the same time Salmosn drew 8 personal fouls and went to the line 11 times.

That statistical oddity was caused by the unusual slew of technical fouls against the Bucks at the end of the game, and the fact that Ray Allen shot and made them all.  I believe Salmons may have fouled Allen on a three point attempt — a dumbdumb play by Salmons — and Allen buried all 3.

Nevertheless, the boxscore shows the Celtics were basically able to match Salmons production.  That cannot happen if the Bucks are to win any games in the upcoming series.

2 Responses to “Bench defense costs Bucks vs. Celtics”

  1. besut Says:

    Given the mounting odds against the Bucks, I’m getting a bit sentimental in my take on them, hoping to see one of those miraculous recoveries from calamity that are more typical of the Bad News Bears/Ladybugs movie genre than actual professional sports. And that’s why I’d like to see Gadzuric emerge as the “secret weapon” over the next few games. They’ve should force him to become a scorer at the post. He doesn’t seem to have much trouble getting there, now if he could just make about 40% of his layups/putbacks/dunks he’d draw defenders in. What’s there to lose — give him 20 minutes in each of the next two games. Thomas could use the rest and Ersan could play more at F. An unlikely avenue, true, but it would be a story worthy of a Rodney Dangerfield sports movie if Gadzuric could earn a little playoff redemption this year.

    • tywill33 Says:

      This is weird, but I was kind of thiking along those same lines, but more like this: Gadzuric earned his first bloated contract with his monster season six years ago. Could he have another contract run in him?

      All he has to understand is he’s not out there to score, except on easy, easy chances. He is never to actually “shoot” the ball

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