Wednesday, October 3, 2012

mass nerder

today's entry brought to you by the title-track from the descendents classic, mass nerder.

with the free scrimmage days away, the pre-season in under a week, and regular NBA season games resuming before the end of the calendar month (anticiperections, anyone?), it's time to dust off my attempts at breaking down numbers for the Utah Jazz.  to make things easy, i figured i'd just start off with THE ENTIRE SEASON.

this is, hopefully, going to be an ongoing project.  according to the september 28, 2012 power rankings, the jazz are in the top 16 teams in the league, but aren't making the playoffs.  the teams to beat, according to marc stein, to land a post-season spot are presumably the t-wolves or memphis.  dallas and denver round out the postulated 5-8 seeds in the west; getting a first-round home court advantage means playing up with the clippers or the spurs (no funny images for them because, well, they're both going to be tough to beat).  so, my goal is to post this same breakdown for at least MIN, MEM, DAL, and DEN in the next few days.

what am i rambling about, you ask?  the teams individual schedules themselves.  since this isn't last last/lockout year, everybody is effectively on the same playing field in terms of the number of home/away games and opponents faced.  but that doesn't mean every team has to deal with the same balance of home and away games.  that balance involves stretches played at home where the players (hopefully) have a fan base, they sleep in their own beds, eat where they know is good, see their families, and generally have more time to rest, as compared to the opposite side of the spectrum where teams might go two weeks living out of a suitcase and sleeping on a chartered jet.  it's arguable that, for a team like the jazz which likely sits on the playoff bubble, having a rough schedule full of away trips could be the deciding factor for the season.  alternately, having a relatively cushy road last january landed the jazz in the west's number 3 spot 5 weeks into the shortened season.

so how does 2012-2013 shape up for coach ty's squad?  besides featuring 17 back-to-back sets (34 games, a whopping 41.5% of of the season's matchups), the jazz can expect 6 home stretches (3 or more games played at home consecutively) versus 7 road trips.  of those stretches, 2 of the stay-at-homes are 4 game runs, while 3 of the away kicks feature 4 consecutive contests.  fortune does not seem to be smiling on the beehive state just yet.

to make things particularly insipid to calculate (and unnecessarily difficult to interpret), i also looked at the season in 10-game blocks (i.e. games 1-10, games 2-11, games 3-12, etc.).  there are 73 of these slices,starting with 1-10 and concluding with 73-82.  looking at the season this way, things remain slightly gloomy:

  • home game trends (6+/10 at home): 25
  • home game heavy trends (7+/10 at home): 14
  • home trend runs
    • games 36-60 (16 of 25 at home)
    • games 66-82 (10 of 17 at home)
  • away game trends (6+/10 at home): 29
  • away game heavy trends (7+/10 away): 8
  • away trend runs
    • games 1-19 (12 of 19 away)
    • games 28-41 (8 of 14 away)
    • games 59-71 (8 of 13 away)
the season begins rough for the jazz, with 12 of the first 19 games on the road (game blocks 1-10 through 10-19).  a brief reprieve of splitting time evenly ends on december 22, when the jazz play 8 of 14 on the road (blocks 28-37 through 32-41).

but the second half of the season sees much more action at energy solutions arena.  in particular, beginning with game 36 (january 7 vs. the mavs), utah plays 16 of 25 on its home court.  games 59-71 see the jazz playing 8 of 13 away, but the season closes with the jazz playing 10 of their last 17 at home (10 of 15 if you discount the season's final two games).

if these ten-game blocks can be used to analyze anything (and i'm not sure that they can), it's a little frustrating to see that only 34.25% (25 of 73) of the blocks are home-heavy, compared to 39.73% (29 of 73) of the blocks featuring 6 or more road games.  however, note the "heavy" trends:  only about 11% (8 of 73) of the blocks feature seven or more away games, versus 19.2% (14 of 73) of the blocks featuring 7 or more out of ten at home.  in fact, only one 10-block of games features eight road contests (games 2-11), while five blocks have eight of ten at home, including three consecutive blocks from 1/14 - 2/8!

another factor making the early season even tougher for the jazz is the number of games played in calendar periods.  i'm not going to get too crazy about this, but the jazz play seven games in the first eleven days of the season, nine games in sixteen days starting 11/16, and six games in ten nights (including five games on the road, four of them in a row) starting 12/14.

it's difficult to make much of a conclusion about this data so far.  once we can compare it to the other teams in the middle of the west, things will be more interesting.  but, for now, it looks like we can expect a pretty haggard team through the first week of 2013.

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