Title Town – it’s all in the stats
I don’t look anything like a basketball player, or even the stereotypical fan. I’m 4’11”. I prefer high heels and dresses to jerseys and sneakers. Even some of my closest friends said they didn’t realize that I grew up as – and continue to be – such a hardcore Boston sports fan.
Yup, I was watching every minute of the Boston Celtics’ often frustrating but ultimately incredible playoff run, which reached a pinnacle when they won the NBA Championship last Tuesday by blowing out the Los Angeles Lakers, 131-92, to take the series four games to two. I went out at 12:30 a.m. that night and heard people honking their horns and celebrating in the streets. I watched Kevin Garnett’s instant-classic “Anything is Possible!”/”Top of the World!” interview over and over. I even braved the crowds and chased down duckboats in the “rolling rally” victory parade Thursday.
Ah, it’s good to live in Title Town. (And for all you haters: Dude, we put up with an 86-year-curse and the biggest letdown in NFL history, not to mention horrid New England winters and Mitt Romney as governor. We have every reason to celebrate our successes.)
The Celtics’ win was made all the sweeter by their underdog status entering the NBA Finals. Over at the venerable ESPN.com, nearly every analyst selected the Lakers to crush the Celtics in this series. Who could have predicted the Celtics’ astounding performance?
Well, Michael Gliedman, for one. He’s the senior vice president and CIO of the NBA and, according to this article, one of the driving forces behind the NBA’s Lenovo +/- Stat. Now in its second year, The Lenovo Stat demonstrates the power of teamwork by showing the point differential when various combinations of players are on the court. Lenovo Stat information is collected courtside on Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablets by statisticians who log about 500 pieces of data during each game. The data is then delivered to a Sysbase database at the NBA’s data center in New York for analysis before being uploaded to the NBA.com site and other distribution points, Gliedman says.
At the beginning of the Finals, the Lenovo Stat ranking showed the Celtics’ starting five outscoring the Lakers’ starting five by a 13-point margin. That’s a pretty hefty advantage – and it doesn’t even take into account X-factor performances like Leon Powe’s monster 21-point showing in Game 2, or the Celtics bench’s key role in the Game 4 24-point comeback.
The Lenovo Stat’s applications don’t end there: Gliedman said that the NBA plans to enhance it in the future so that fans can create “dream matchups” – for instance, a showdown between the Celtics’ championship squads from 1986 and 2008. Larry Legend vs. Paul “The Truth” Pierce? Now that’s what I call fantasy basketball.
I know ESPN.com already lives by statistics, but maybe some of its analysts should check out Lenovo Stat prior to making their next round of playoffs predictions – and before coming down so hard on my hometown boys.
Oh, and by the way: The Celtics are already 7-2 favorites to win the title next year, too.