FanPost

How do the Hawks Stack Up Against the Bulls and Heat?

-There has been some discussion as to the Hawks' chances at making it to the Eastern Conference Finals or beyond. Barring a serious upset in the first round, this road would run through the Heat and the Bulls. Although I am an avid fan of the local team, I love following the NBA league-wide, always trying to watch as many national games as possible, as well as taking advantage of a free week of the NBA League Pass and other opportunities. I would love for the Atlanta Hawks to be talked about as a serious contender and an elite team, but most would not classify them as that this season.

-In this Fanpost, I will attempt to evaluate our chances at an upset of the Heat or Bulls. I'll try to do this as objectively as possible in evaluating the quality of the teams through the use of advanced stats. Now I don't proclaim to be John Hollinger nor can I set up simulations like he and other statistical analysts do, but I'm going to use Hoopdata.com as my source of data (as of April 18, 2012).

-Just how good are the Hawks in comparison to the Heat and the Bulls? A couple of disclaimers: I do realize we have been saddled with many injuries, most notably Al Horford. The Bulls have been without Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton for some time as well so the stats may not be completely representative of the teams' potential in the postseason when healthy, but it's certainly a good starting point.

-After the jump is a quick and dirty advanced statistical look at the three teams discussed:

Pace

OffEff

DefEff

Diff

TS%

AR

TOR

ORR

DRR

TRR

EFF

WS

AWS

PER

ATL

92.1

101.3

98.5

2.83

52.9

21.22

13.36

23.97

74.27

49.21

107.2

45.2

35.1

14.70

CHI

91.8

104.8

96.0

8.82

52.4

21.52

13.30

33.06

73.90

53.73

113.6

48.9

39.0

15.62

MIA

93.5

105.6

97.6

7.97

55.4

19.35

14.10

26.66

73.23

50.99

114.3

49.0

38.2

16.48

-One of factors deserving attention initially is the difference in scoring efficiencies. The Hawks have a positive 2.83 efficiency difference, meaning they scored an average of 2.83 points more than their opponent per 100 possessions this season. The Heat and Bulls have efficiency differentials of 7.97 and 8.82 respectively. In other words, there is a 5-6 point difference in overall efficiency between the Hawks and the other two. For comparison, that is the same difference between the Hawks and the Warriors or Raptors.

-Hollinger's PER (player efficiency rating) is a stat developed to try to quantify all the ways a player can help a team in a single metric. It is defined as being scaled as having an NBA average of 15 among players. In this form on Hoopdata, it lists a team PER that can be interpreted in the same way. The Hawks' PER is below average at 14.7 while the Bulls' and Heat's are significantly higher. I am not here to discuss the merits and/or worth of PER, but it gives some perspective into the total efficiency comparisons between the teams.

-If you prescribe to the notion that "you are what your record is" then the standings show the Bulls (47-15) and Heat (44-17) are 10 and 7 ½ games ahead of the good guys, respectively, over 60-61 games. Head to head, the Bulls went 3-1 against us, including a 21 point win in Atlanta without Rose or Hamilton. The lone win against them was a 109-94 effort in Atlanta when the Hawks shot 56.6% from the field and 75% from behind the arc. They also had a 1-3 record against the Heat that included a triple overtime loss without Lebron James or Dwayne Wade stepping on the floor. The only win was an 8 point game in Miami lead by a reinvigorated Tracy McGrady, who had 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in 26 minutes off the bench that included 3-3 from long range, in what was probably his best game all season.

-From the data, subjectively, I see a pretty sizeable gap between Atlanta and the other two, and it would take a large upset to get past either one. It is certainly possible, as shown by a win over each during the season. What do you think? Please leave some comments on this piece and/or rec this piece. Thanks for reading.

A FanPost expresses the opinion of the community member who wrote it and not that of the blog management.

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