Game 1: Was it really all about the jumpshots?

This matchup worried me more than any other potential matchup in the east.  I picked the Magic to win in 6, but knew it would be tough. Watching the game, it seemed my fears were correct.

It also seemed that the Hawks made jump shots and the Magic didn't. Of course, sometimes, the way things "seem" isn't really how they are and this article inspired me to do more research to find out what really happened. Box scores don't give nearly enough info, but fortunately HoopData does.

At the Rim

At the rim, the Magic were above their season shooting percentage and number of attempts while the Hawks were below their averages in attempts and percentage. Given the big man lineups for both teams, this is not really a surprise. If the attempts in this game for both teams connected at their season average, Atlanta would have netted 3.5 more points here.

3 to 9 Feet

On shots from 3 to 9 feet from the hoop, again the Magic were above their averages in attempts and percentage. However, the Hawks had 1 less attempt at this range than normal but made 2.3 more than usual shooting 70% (7-10) compared to their season average of 43% from this distance. If shot at season averages, Orlando nets an additional 2.3 points here.

10 to 15 Feet

At 10 to 15 feet, the Magic shot fewer shots than normal but at a slightly higher percentage while the Hawks shot slightly more at a lower percentage. However, the numbers were so close, that shooting season averages would have netted only an additional 0.3 points for Orlando.

So, from the rim to 15 feet from the basket, the difference between what was shot and what would be expected on the scoreboard given the attempts is off by less than 1 point (0.855 points to be exact). Given the lower overall variance on shots closer to the rim, this isn't surprising, but it's good to know that Dwight's monster game did not overly skew an advantage for the Magic in this area that is unlikely to be duplicated in future games.

However, above 16 feet is where it gets really interesting.

16 to 23 Feet

At 16-23 feet, the Magic generally make 5.9 baskets on 14.7 attempts for 40.1%. However, in this game they shot just 10 attempts in this area and made only 2! That's right, 20% shooting on long 2s. The Hawks meanwhile shot more than usual from this range - which is actually what the Magic want - but connected at above their average and just shy of 50%. If both teams hit their season averages on these attempts in this game, the Magic gain 6.69 points here.

3-point Shots

Beyond the 3 point arc, the Magic shot 3.6 fewer attempts than normal and hit at ~10% less. Meanwhile, the Hawks also shot 3.4 fewer shots from here but made ~8% more. Shooting at expected percentages, the Magic would gain a whopping 9.51 points here - essentially the difference in the game.

To put it much more briefly, it really was about the jump shots. If both teams shoot their season averages on every attempt in this game, the Magic gain an additional 15.34 points - and all of them on shots from beyond 16 feet.

As a Magic fan, this should be comforting information. While it is certainly possible for teams to stay hot or cold for multiple games, the 7-game-series format of the NBA playoffs should help dampen these kinds of anomalies over the long haul. Additionally, seeing that all of the points came in the areas with the highest variance in outcome further strengthens an expectation for regression to the mean for both teams in future games.

This FanPost was made by a member of the Orlando Pinstriped Post community, and is to be treated as the opinions and views of its author, not that of the blogger or blog community as a whole.

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