NBA Playoffs: Suns vs Lakers

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Originally published June 5, 2021:

The King tried but failed to put up a one man show.

LeBron James failed to maintain his perfect first round NBA playoff series record of 14 series wins and the Lakers are eliminated. Devin Booker put on a great performance with 47 (!!) points scored last night.

We had a look at the differences in shot selections between the King and Booker, as well as the Lakers and Suns teamwork. A few main findings:
– Booker started off his games strong, in contrast to his struggling performances in the 1st half throughout the season. He was a consistent threat to the Lakers throughout all periods.
– LeBron appeared to try to take matters into his own hands, evident by the increase in shots he started taking towards the end of the 3rd quarter through the end of the game. His frustration was clear on camera and it led to him missing 9% more of his shots taken in the last quarter compared to his season performance.
– Booker and Ayton had 72 and 68 points off assists, and along with Crowder and Bridges they all had more points off assists than Lebron’s 41 and AD’s 38.
– Chris Paul consistently fed Booker, Crowder, and Ayton with assists, and as expected without him the Suns were less of a threat with fewer options and less team assists.
– Not much to say about the Lakers without LeBron besides a huge mess…

It’s interesting how both of last year’s finalists failed to make it through the first round, following a short off-season.

Some great resources on applying and running these analyses in R can be found in the awesome book “Basketball Data Science: With Applications in R” by Paola Zuccolotto and Marica Manisera:


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