Sunday Statistical Test: Should Hack-A-Shaq Come Back?

The old “Hack-A-Shaq” strategy of fouling a poor free throw shooter to send him to the line whereupon he’d then miss at least one free throw and have to be removed from the game as an offensive liability never made much sense statistically. Unless the player was truly horrid from the line (even Shaq, a career 52.7 percent free throw shooter, would thus generate 105.4 points per 100 possessions before a single one of his free throws went for an offensive rebound and got the Magic, Lakers, or whoever an extended possession and often a putback), the strategy inevitably generated …

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Achtung Panzer! #6: The Tanking Cleveland Cavaliers

Welcome to the debut of Pace and Space from our new digs…two miles from the old digs! Still in rain-soaked suburban Seattle, but I’ve moved house, gotten a good night’s sleep, unpacked (mostly), so let’s talk NBA, shall we? The Cleveland Cavaliers, like the New York Knicks we talked about a couple of weeks back, are less “tanking” and more “a complete joke of a franchise that ought to be compared to the likes of the Browns or Jets in the NFL.” At 8-21 through games of December 21, the Cavs own the third-worst record (bless the Knicks and Hawks, …

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Are the 2019-20 Cleveland Cavaliers Good?

Man, sometimes creating a title Google will like has some unintended consequences…but the Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of 19 games in 2018-19 and in possession of a second-year player who just put up the third-worst advanced-stats season in NBA history (measured by VORP), are not good. The question here isn’t will they make the playoffs or indeed be in contention after Thanksgiving. The question is whether they’re going to win the 24 games (tied with Charlotte for the lowest over/under on the board) required to pay the over bets. Whether that happens will depend mainly on whether Collin Sexton and his …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part II: Central Division

Yesterday, we took a look at the Wiggins Factor of teams in the Atlantic Division. We found some great value rookie contracts that set the bar for the very best young value plays in Pascal Siakam, Jarrett Allen, and Mitchell Robinson. We also found some terrible values, most of them on the Knicks, and established that somewhere around 400 or 500 is the cutoff for when a contract is just a bad use of the money even on a superstar player. We also found that the standard changes as you rise up the scale; guys on a rookie contract are …

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LeBron’s Legacy by the Numbers

The legacy of LeBron James is bookended by NBA history, trying to be better than the greats of the past while setting a standard that will withstand the challenge of the greats of the future. The legacy of LeBron is also bookended alphabetically, by the letter K on one end—Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Karl Malone—and by the letter M on the other, in the person of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Kareem, Karl, and Kobe are the three guys left in the way of LeBron setting the career record for scoring. Magic is the gold standard for versatility, his …

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Breakfast Special: A Serge In On-Court Violence

Serge Ibaka built an NBA reputation on swatting shots away from the rim. But in the Toronto Raptors’ 126-101 humiliation at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night, Ibaka decided instead to swat—and by swat I mean clobber—an opponent instead. Marquese Chriss ended up on the receiving end of Ibaka’s rage, and Everybody Hates Chriss: Ibaka and Chriss out here throwing punches 😳 pic.twitter.com/NwRhL6Apw4 — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 12, 2019 That’s going to be worth a suspension. Possibly a lengthy one. Nice move for the playoff stretch drive, Serge. This was a beast of a game for Cleveland, …

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Breakfast Special: James Harden, LVP

Allow me a moment of gleeful bias in an otherwise objective statistical and visual roundup of NBA action. Because James Harden shot 1-of-17 from three-point land, making one more three-pointer than Ben Simmons did yesterday, as the Rockets lost to the Magic 116-109. But here is why Harden is fundamentally absurd. He had 38 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds, shot 11-of-32 from the field overall, and made 15-of-16 from the line, and every nitwit who’s willing to ignore his blatant manipulation of the referees and horrible shooting when they’re not giving him the calls (and the turnovers; he’s averaging …

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Breakfast Special: Losing by a RAZR-Thin Margin

Every single problem the Indiana Pacers have—every weakness, every lapse in execution, every failure in design—came together in a Motorola-sponsored garbage fire that culminated in a 92-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In fact, the last sequence of the game, with Indiana up 91-90 and Victor Oladipo on the free throw line, was all of the above in about 20 seconds. Oladipo missed not one but two free throws, turning “for the tie” into “for the win” at the other end, and it seems like every time any team in the NBA leaves the door open like that, they lose. …

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Breakfast Special: Draymond’s Durant DNP

Draymond Green sat a game after bringing up Kevin Durant‘s impending free agency during a heated exchange between the two earlier in the week. And Warriors management? Well, they just essentially reminded Green that 7.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game do not entitle someone to influence personnel decisions and suspended him. Green’s decline—in addition to all his other woes, he’s shooting 24 percent from three this year—makes him a curious case for the Warriors. On the one hand, he’s still the best ball-distributing forward in the league, with 7.4 assists a game to lead the team. But on the …

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Are the 2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers Good?

And now, the only team with a Tuesday time slot in this year’s previews (let’s see…Toronto, Miami, Portland, Houston, Golden State…yep, only team) that unequivocally sucks. That’s right, forget the score, grab your Henny, and buckle up, because we’re sifting through the burning river of the NBA to find a team that gave up the title of best sports team in Cleveland to the Indians in as much time as it took LeBron James to sign with the Lakers. Hell, now that Baker Mayfield is trying to render a little joy into the Factory of Sadness, the Cavs might not …

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