Tracking Defense in the Magic’s 104-99 Victory Over the Jazz

Last week, I tracked the defense of the Magic.  Thanks to positive response from the readers, I have decided to do it again.  For a full a description of each statistic I track and what they mean, see last week's article.  Basically, what I did was watch the game last night and keep my own statistics (things that are not in the box score).  Defensive statistics are often quite limited, and techniques such as manually charting and looking for certain things are often necessary to get a clearer picture.

Without further ado, here are the numbers from last night:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AvNKNGJ_AHijdHJqRkVlYmlhTTRETzRMZTV1OXh5Y0E&hl=en

Again, if you don't know what any of those things mean, please read last week's article. 

  • This was a particularly difficult game to track. Utah's offense involves a lot of pick-and-rolls and other types of screens, so defending it is very much a team effort. There were many plays where it was hard to give any individual credit or blame. Perhaps in the future I will tinker with giving partial credit.
  • There were many occasions when a Magic defender could not keep up with his man through off-the-ball screens, and this is reflected in the statistics. Vince Carter was the biggest culprit.
  • A player's defensive statistics are highly influenced by his matchup. That's why bench players often look better than starters; they're going against the other team's reserves.
  • Because of his tough matchup (Deron Williams), Jason Williams allowed the most baskets on the team despite only playing 22 minutes. D-Will was both faster and stronger than J-Will. Considering J-Will's poor defensive reputation, forcing four misses while only allowing five baskets isn't terrible. He did have some help though...
  • Dwight Howard was a beast as usual, both in one-on-one defense and help defense. He forced 13 misses while being responsible for just four makes. The rest of the Magic's players give good effort on defense, but I'm pretty convinced Howard is reasons one through ten why the Magic are so good defensively every year.
  • It's a shame MVP voting and overall popularity reflect offensive abilities more than anything, because after tracking Howard's defense for two games, I don't think it's crazy to say he's the best player in the league. It's just that most people's definitions of "best" are different than mine. LeBron James is a better offensive player, but Howard's defensive impact is undeniable.
  • Don't forget that Howard was often matched up against Carlos Boozer, an offensive stud. Howard was able to hold Boozer under his season averages while also helping out all of his Magic teammates.
  • In his return, Jameer Nelson played solid D.
  • Anthony Johnson could not replicate the defensive performance he had against the Pacers and T.J. Ford. Williams abused him a few times in the fourth quarter.
  • Rashard Lewis rebounded nicely from his poor defensive performance last time.  Some of you suggested that poor defensive job was an outlier, and you may be right.  It didn't hurt that Mehmet Okur couldn't buy a bucket, though

Don't forget to check out Basketball-Statistics.com for more of my research!

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