Ups and Downs of Round One - Pistons / Magic by the stat sprocket In the playoffs we all know that the bench gets shorter and that key players play more. What I’ll look at here is which players in the Pistons / Magic series were more or less productive than during the regular season. As we’ll see below the story of the first round is pretty much in line with what we thought might happen. The Pistons front line, especially Prince, stepped up their games and dominated the Magic. And as many observed before the series started, the Magic are very weak at the point, and Nelsen ended up with a particularly disappointing first round. What we might not have expected is how much better than expected Grant Hill played, and how much worse than expected Rip Hamilton played. Both the Pistons and the Magic data tables below have the same information. The columns, for both the regular season and the first round of the playoffs, are… % Minutes – the share of team minutes each player accounted for (for either 82 regular season games or the four games in the first round) % Sprocket Points – the share of team Sprocket Points (share of statistical productivity) each player accounted for Index – The ratio of % Sprocket Points to % Minutes. An index above 100 indicates that a player is more productive than the average player on that team, an index below 100 indicates that the player is less productive. Productivity Ratio – a measure of how the player’s playoff performance compares to his regular season performance. A value above 1.0 indicates that the player stepped up his performance in the playoffs. Note that this is normalized to minutes so merely playing more won’t help a player. To have a productivity ratio greater than 1.0, the player has to be more productive on a per minute basis than in the regular season. (Note that I’ve bumped Webber’s productivity assuming he would have played at the same level all season if he had been on the roster in Detroit for the full 82.) For Detroit… Prince – Shows the biggest increase in productivity from the regular season. He played more minutes against the Magic (16.0% versus 14.4% during the season), and produced more. This was the Prince we’ve been hoping to see. Webber and Wallace – The rest of the frontline also stepped up. More minutes and more productivity from both Webber and Wallace. McDyess and Delfino – Off the bench these two guys were the heroes. Dice played more minutes than in the regular season and Delfino fewer, but both were more productive during their time on the court in the first round. Remember though that Dice’s numbers include the first half of the season when he wasn’t playing nearly as well. Compared to the second half the first round was something of a disappointment. Billups and Hamilton – Billups was rock steady, playing the exact same way in the playoffs as in the regular season, more minutes and more productivity, but at basically the same rate. Hamilton however is another story. The physical game Orlando played against him took away a good part of his production. Rip was only 74% as productive in the first round as in the regular season. While Billups seems able to withstand his 42 minute per game playoff pace, Hamilton wasn’t able to sustain his usual performance at just over 40 minutes per game. Murray and Hunter – Neither player had a good run. Murray had a nice defensive series, but 17% shooting just won’t get it done. Likewise for Hunter who didn’t scratch in very limited minutes. Davis – DD played at his usual rate, and probably did what the team wanted – shoving Howard around and committing a foul about every three and a half minutes. For Orlando – Dooling and Hill – Although Dooling only played 16 minutes per game versus Hill’s 36, both players were much more productive in round one than in the regular season. If this was Hill’s swan song, he made the most of it. Why Dooling didn’t play more is anyone’s guess. Arroyo and Milicic – Both ex-Pistons stepped up their games a bit in round one. Unfortunately for the Magic Arroyo’s minutes were cut even though he was more productive than Nelsen in both the regular season and the playoffs. Maybe one day he’ll find a home, but as long as Hill is at the reins in Orlando, this won’t be it. And poor Darko. He made the most of the time he had and the Magic would have been the better for more minutes. Turkoglu, Howard, and Nelson – The terrible trio must shoulder a lot of the blame for the sweep. Together their minutes increased by 22% over the regular season (38.5% to 47.1%), but their productivity only went up by 7% (45.6% to 48.9%). Howard and Turkoglu were down 10% compared to the regular season and Nelsen down 15%. Reddick, Battie, and Ariza – While Battie played a few more minutes in round one than in the regular season, both Reddick and Ariza saw their court time cut. None of the three played anywhere near their levels during the regular season.