platocave's profile

Member since: June 24, 2004
Last visit: October 04, 2006

platocave has posted 5 links and 47 comments to SportsFilter and 0 links and 0 comments to the Locker Room.

Recent Links

Why this year's French Open is so important: Excellently-written explanation on what makes particular styles work for different surfaces, as well as why the psychology of Federer v. Nadal is so gripping.

posted by platocave to tennis at 12:01 PM on May 30, 2006 - 3 comments

Miracle shot: This is one of the most amazing shots I've ever seen in an actual basketball game, and the shot forced double overtime, which makes it that much cooler. Any SpoFites have other links to video of amazing shots in actual games they'd like to share in this thread, i.e. Roberto Carlos's free kick?

posted by platocave to basketball at 09:51 PM on March 22, 2005 - 25 comments

Godzilla youngsters: I know the consensus now is that Brown was far from the perfect coach for the Olympic basketball team, but this article on the current NBA season statistical blowup of the young guys who kept the bench warm in Athens quantifies that. And you need look no further than last night as perfect examples of Hollinger's argument: here and here. What do SpoFites think of the analysis of the article and the larger issue of emerging attempts at a basketball form of Sabrmetrics, begun of course by Hollinger and Dean Oliver, and which has morphed into some fascinating sites online?

posted by platocave to basketball at 10:13 AM on November 25, 2004 - 4 comments

Ray Allen speaks his mind about Kobe: Yup, the Sonics and Lakers battling it out for 11th place in the West this year will definitely be more interesting to watch.

posted by platocave to basketball at 07:12 AM on October 15, 2004 - 17 comments

Recent Comments


I wish people hadn't needed to see this game to realize how great Dirk is because he's been this way all year. I still strongly believe that Dirk should have won the MVP this year over Nash. But Dirk just seemed to be the forgotten MVP candidate because he fit the expected MVP-mold even less than Nash did and does. Especially if people hadn't watched any Mavs games this year, I think they tended to assume that since Dirk has always been known as a 7-foot 3-point jump shooter with little to no D that no matter what his individual stats or team wins, Dirk wasn't an MVP-type player. But if you did watch the actual games, then you saw that on the offensive end, Dirk can create his own shot now, from the elbow, from the low post, from drives, and of course from the 3. His passing out of double teams is now precise, and his D is better than average now. Last night just showed all of his improvements in spades, but he'd been doing that all season. Hopefully, after winning the championship this year, next year Dirk will get his.

posted by platocave at 11:21 AM on June 02, 2006

The Wages of Wins.

I agree with everett that Malcolm Gladwell is a pimp. "Two of the best books in the last decade" might be a bit strong, but The Tipping Point and Blink certainly have been two of the most influential books in the last decade for other popular science writers and readers. Just look at the similar iconography and design of recent popular science books like Stumbling on Happiness or The Wisdom of Crowds or Freakonomics, all of which Gladwell endorsed of course, when compared to the original The Tipping Point. But like Bill Simmons, Gladwell has, in general, become less and less sharp with his writing and ideas as popular acceptance has sapped his need to write well all the time. Gladwell's greatest strength has always been the clarity and simplicity of his prose style, which is another way of saying that he makes other people's (usually psychologists') complex ideas go down easy. But when he was younger, he would write longer articles and have the patience to find a clear, unifying, and most important, correct vision of his own that connected the other people's ideas. (BTW, this is why I think The Tipping Point is a much better book than Blink, which, while providing many interesting examples and anecdotes, never dovetailed into a strong material thesis like The Tipping Point did.) In the book review that lilnemo links to, like so many of Gladwell's recent book reviews, it's obvious that Gladwell hasn't fully thought through the book's ideas; he presents nothing more than what makes the ideas interesting when he should be exploring whether or not the ideas are actually worthwhile, relevant, material, correct ideas. Now I agree that statistics applied to figuring out what wins basketball games is not only an interesting but also a worthwhile idea, and I love what the guys at 82games have been doing. But whatever metric The Wages of Wins is using seems to me to be little more than fitting a wins formula to the data rather than actually figuring out what wins basketball games. The line that jumps out to me in the article is: "According to their analysis, Iversonís finest season was in 2004-05, when he was worth ten wins, which made him the thirty-sixth-best player in the league. In the season in which he won the Most Valuable Player award, he was the ninety-first-best player in the league. In his worst season (2003-04), he was the two-hundred-and-twenty-seventh-best player in the league." What the hell? So Iverson went from being one of the worst players (267) in the league to one of the best (36) in one year? If you know anything about statistics, then the metric obviously isn't measuring the intrinsic wins worth of the player and therefore can't be used to predict how a certain player will be worth next year, which defeats the purpose of having such a metric in the first place. What's happening to Kevin Garnett is tragic, but is he really worth that many wins by himself? The answer is unknowable because basketball is so much more complex than baseball. If KG was on a different team, he'd have different stats and a different win metric - is that really him, or is it the effect of his teammates or his coach or the particular division he's playing in? I think it's this thinking that you can so easily quantify an individual's effect on a basketball win that is the problem with The Wages of Wins idea. Anyway, this was my long-winded way of saying that yes, I think you're right in being a bit skeptical, lilnemo, and no, I don't think Junkyard Dog was "actually among the strongest players of his generation."

posted by platocave at 10:33 AM on May 31, 2006

Why this year's French Open is so important

Delete this double post please.

posted by platocave at 12:02 PM on May 30, 2006

Hello, Larry

For a couple of minutes there in the third quarter, I thought that Isiah Thomas had struck a behind-the-scenes deal with his old buddy Joe Dumars to wreck the Spurs team by sending them Nazr's stone hands and inexplicable fouls. Every time Nazr was in the game, the Pistons seemed to go on a run. At any rate, to me, the turning point in this game occurred in the 10-minute stretch at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth where, first of all, San Antonio's offense ran through their two main guys - Duncan and Ginobili - as it should, with the sprinkling of Horry and Bowen threes off of Manu and Timmeh double teams to keep Detroit defenders honest. Second, in that ten-minute stretch, Detroit's offense was run through the last two guys that I would want running the offensel if I was Larry Brown: Rip "Anti-clutch" Hamilton and Lindsey "32% shooter for the playoffs" Hunter. Part of this was because of Pop's move of Bowen onto Billups again, but part of it was just plain stupidity on the Pistons' side. Billups and Sheed are their two main guys on offense, as was seen throughout this series and even later in the fourth quarter when the Pistons tried to mount a run off of Rasheed's turnarounds and threes, and Billups's drives, jump shots, and free throws. Overall, a Finals series that had plenty of wonderful moments. I look forward to more battles between these two organizations, so different - international versus hip hop, versatility versus toughness - and yet so similar - hardworking, classy, champions.

posted by platocave at 12:31 AM on June 24, 2005

Desperation 1, Expiration 0.

My (completely baseless, of course) predictions for Game 7: Close game, with San Antonio pulling it out in the 4th, scoring in the mid-80s. Bowen guards Billups for most of the night, forcing him into a similar stat line to Game 6 - 6/16 shooting - and less productive in total big points - 17. Parker has the same stat line he has had basically the entire series: 7/15 shooting, 15 points. Manu Ginobili has a big 4th quarter to atone for his Game 6 4th quarter performance but is almost completely canceled out by huge rebounding and energy from Ben Wallace. Neither Rasheed nor Horry have great games. Duncan shoots 70% from the foul line but misses a couple in the 4th quarter. He does enough, though, including blocking an important Rip Hamilton jump shot in crunch time, shades of Olajuwon and Starks in the '94 Finals Game 7.

posted by platocave at 03:45 PM on June 22, 2005

Robert Horry... Fraud?

Look, Robert Horry is not a Hall-of-Fame player as a HOF player has been defined in the past. I don't see why that definition would change in the future, but if it did to include Horry, I wouldn't cry bloody murder. But Robert Horry is not overrated. Until this guy wrote this article, I would have said that he was rated exactly where he should be - as a clutch role player who steps up in the payoffs. After the article, and the furor it caused here, I will have to say that Horry is a tad underrated still. Confirmation bias did not take over the 4th quarter and OT last night - Horry did. You can say that we don't remember the times that he didn't take over because of confirmation bias, but the truth is, there are thousands of role players who have never taken over an NBA game like that, much less in the Finals. You can't just dismiss Horry as a guy who is in the right place at the right time surrounded by great teammates, especially when, like last night, it's not just the final shot going in that we remember. It was the entire freaking 4th quarter and OT where he was the spark, the je ne sais quoi, the man carrying the franchise on his back.

posted by platocave at 09:19 AM on June 20, 2005

Horry's big shot wins Game 5

chicobangs, Horry didn't just sink the one three, he sank 5 threes that they needed desperately and also made that so-so-sick dislocate-his-left-shoulder Superman dunk over Rip Hamilton when they needed the spark in OT. Duncan had a great game until the 4th quarter. After he missed the gimme at the end though, it was obvious that he was on tilt in overtime, going way too hard off the glass, flubbing entry passes that were right on target. Horry saved him, but I will say that without Duncan's first 3 quarters and rebounding prowess, Horry would never have had the shot to once again become Big Shot Rob. I loved Pop's move to switch Bowen onto Billups and Parker onto Rip for OT because Billups is Detroit's "Mr. Big Shot" and at least Bowen could stay in front of him on his drives, unlike Parker. Perhaps more importantly, Rip is Detroit's anti-clutch player, from what I've seen - missed open jumpers and layups galore - so Parker on him as a changeup wouldn't be too bad. Lo and behold, Rip badly misses that jumper at the end despite clearing space with an elbow to Parker's head.

posted by platocave at 09:03 AM on June 20, 2005

Robert Horry... Fraud?

Robert Horry is a Nubian god.

posted by platocave at 11:29 PM on June 19, 2005

Detroit Rebounds

And my fault for misremembering as well: I looked at the play-by-play, and it was Beno Udrih and not Brent Barry who was the primary cause of the bad ballhandling and turnovers at the end of the 3rd.

posted by platocave at 10:09 AM on June 15, 2005

Detroit Rebounds

OK, I took it as a joke, a tongue-in-cheek joke rather than a meanspirited joke, but my fault for misinterpreting.

posted by platocave at 10:05 AM on June 15, 2005

Detroit Rebounds

daddisamm, I'm going to join you in hell for laughing so hard.

posted by platocave at 09:35 AM on June 15, 2005

Detroit Rebounds

I still say, from a basketball standpoint, that Game 2 has been the high point, where one team executed well for an entire game. Game 3 was similar to Game 1: road team surprisingly has an early lead through the first and second quarters, neither team executes their offense well in the second and third quarters although the home team starts building some momentum, and then in the fourth quarter the road team collapses, while the home team puts on a clinic. Ginobili's injury and lack of energy - in the fourth quarter, you could tell that he had no lift because both his threes and his layups were falling short - was the primary reason the Spurs lost but not the sole reason by any stretch. Brent Barry was godawful during the fourth quarter when he gave the ball away on 3 straight possessions. That was the collapse right there. He definitely is not the missing piece that the Spurs thought they were getting - his ballhandling and decision making were atrocious. Mohammed has bricks for hands, coated with butter, because he couldn't hold onto balls that came right at his palms. Duncan played way too slow and soft against the double teams. When your best offensive player is Bowen, you know you have issues. On the other side, Big Ben showed up: his offensive boards, spin moves to alleyoops, and filling his lane on the fast break were impressive, not to mention his D to start off the game. Chauncey also showcased his spin moves, postups, and dagger 3s, not to mention an uncalled intentional flagrant on Parker at the end of the first half. Rip had his curls off screens, 1-2 jumpshots, and upfakes going. McDyess has been a pleasant offensive surprise this entire series - I loved his up-and-under to a bank shot, then cool smile while he trotted back to the defensive end. The Pistons will have made it a series if they win the next game, but I still stand by my original prediction made a month ago: Spurs in 6. I was wondering if the Spurs had finally made the leap to dominant team after Game 2, but no, last night showed that they still can't put up a string of dominating performances in a row.

posted by platocave at 09:33 AM on June 15, 2005

Episode II: Return of the Zen Master

Jeannie Buss has magical powers, much like Katie Holmes. How's that for analysis, lilnemo? ;) Seriously, though, there's not a whole lot of basketball meat to this story. The takes are bound to be mostly soap-opera-and-talk-radioish. That said, I am interested in what wrinkles to the triangle PJ's going to put in next year in order to fit the personnel. If the Lakers make the playoffs next year, there should be no more questioning of Jackson's coaching ability.

posted by platocave at 03:14 PM on June 14, 2005

Ginobili Metio 27 Puntos y Los Spurs Aplastaron a Los Pistons

"It'd be nice if there was more than one team playing." There are basically two types of basketball games that I think are beautiful to watch: one is where both teams are fighting, equally matched, down to the wire, forcing each other to new heights of play; and the other is a dominant team ripping the hearts out of whatever team it's playing with precise superior play. I enjoy the distinct aesthetic pleasures of both types of games, especially when the two magically dovetail in the same series. But in the first two games, the Spurs (other than the first quarter of the game 1, when the script was switched) have imposed their wills so much that the games have become the latter type. It would be nice if there was more than one team playing, but I guess I find it odd how people don't seem to appreciate the beauty of one-sided dominance. (Is it just the American love of the underdog? Are humans hard-wired to dislike efficiency? Because the Spurs are playing that supremely well right now, and yet the praise is strangely muted.)

posted by platocave at 05:41 PM on June 13, 2005

Ginobili Metio 27 Puntos y Los Spurs Aplastaron a Los Pistons

Of course, thinking about the context of your post, you could just mean "ugly" in the sense that SA plastered Det, but I was on rant mode as soon as I saw the word "ugly".

posted by platocave at 10:37 AM on June 13, 2005