The Algebra of Tradition and Pride: C’s eke out clincher over historic rival
Simmons gets the ball in deep and … Marcus Smart steals it. Over to T-Ro. Marcus Smart stole the ball. It’s all over; it’s all over!
How fitting that this chapter of the Philadelphia Process should end in Turn-over, huh? Brett Brown’s boys racked up 1353 of them for the regular season. That’s 16.5 per game for a team whose Pace of Play calculates to 99.8 possessions – in other words, Philly squandered one of every six opportunities to score with a TO … the least sure-handed team in the NBA.
[Plea for Assistance: When it comes to TO%, I feel like the kind of student who can apply a formula to arrive at the “correct” answer, but has not the first clue as to it’s significance. (In school, that started happening to me with sines and secants in Trigonometry.) If there’s anyone in the community here that understands the reasoning behind the team TO% formula – why is it not simply the percentage of a team’s possessions lost to TO’s?]
In their Game 4 loss, Boston managed but three lousy points off 76er errors. That figure improved to 16 in Wednesday’s series-ender.
While it doesn’t always succeed, ya gotta love Brad Stevens’s pro-active approach to situational substitution. Coach re-inserted Al Horford with 76er Ersan Ilyasova on the FT line and 29.6 seconds on the clock. Although the wily vet wound up missing a long trey, the Sixers were unable to get off a shot in their 3.3 seconds of ball ownership.
Coach Brown had clearly sent his boys out to “pound the paint.” Philly attempted only three three-pointers in Q1 while shooting over 50% from the field. Such an approach, while reasonably successful, didn’t seem instinctive to them. On one trip down the floor, Marcus Morris got stuck guarding Joel Embiid with plenty of shot-clock remaining. The ball never found big Joel.
The mental conditioning of years-long purposeful underachievement was seeping into Philly’s play here. Floor leader Ben Simmons kicked out a point-blank look to a teammate at the three-point line. The problem was that the 24-second clock expired before the pass reached the teammate.
Coach Brown turned to rugged Justin Anderson, who’d contributed but six minutes of court time to Games 1 – 4. The three-minute experiment produced one steal and two personal fouls. (It seemed to me that Anderson’s largest contribution to this series was his bench barking.)
The piece de resistance was when JJ Redick collided with Embiid (I think), resulting in an early Turnover.
Boston induced four Philly team fouls in Q4’s first 1:57 – and took exactly twice as many FTA’s during that crucial 12 minutes.
On back-to-back mid-quarter possession, Horford conjured up the ghosts of Celtics past in the course of tripling a two-point lead. First, he pulled the famous Dave Cowens baseline, drop-step move for a reverse lay-up, then channeled his inner Sam Jones with a mid-range bank shot. (Would you be surprised if I mentioned that these possessions immediately followed a Brad Stevens Time-out?)
FG: C’s – 38 - 85, .447 / Phil – 40 - 82, .488
3FG: C’s – 7 - 20, .350 / Phil – 8 - 21, .381
FT: C’s – 31 - 41, .756  / Phil – 24 - 31, .774 
TO: C’s – 11 / Phil – 17
OR: C’s – 13 + 2 (team) / Phil – 12 + 1 (team)
Poss: C’s – 100 / Phil – 100
CV%: C’s – 57 / 100, .570 / Phil – 54 / 100, .540
Note re Calculations:
The number of “possessions” is an accurate count, not a formula-based estimated value.
For purposes of clarity, the bracketed digit following the FT% is the exact count of “conversions” represented by those FTA’s.
“Possessions” calculation: FGA’s + FT conversions + TO’s – OR’s (including Team OR’s)
“Conversions” calculation: FG’s + FT conversions
Abacus Revelation for the Road
I don’t suppose anyone truly tracks such things, but there was one “weirdness” to this series. The team that won the opening tip --- lost every game.