Regular Season vs. Playoffs: A Statistical Analysis of the Chicago Bulls

Regular Season vs. Playoffs: A Statistical Analysis of the Chicago Bulls

Regular Season vs. 10 Playoff Games

Bulls Playoffs vs. Regular Season.jpg

Offense

Through 10 playoff games, the Chicago Bulls have shot 3.39% worse than during their 82 regular season games.  They have been able to make up for some of the loss of scoring (down 3.52 points per game from 98.62 to 95.1 PPG) by getting to the free throw line more often, and shooting 6.34% better than the regular season. 

Some positive signs can be concluded from the "hustle statistics" seeing increases.  The Bulls have increased their Offensive Rebound Percentage, which was
good for 4th in the NBA at .294, to an NBA Playoff leading .343.  An increase in offensive rebounding (up 2.08 per game) have helped to keep the Bulls pace and points per 100 possessions close.
 

The Chicago Bulls TOV% (an estimation of turnovers per 100 possessions) of .134 during the playoffs is consistent with their regular season percentage of .135.

One obvious observation that comes when looking at the Bulls statistics in Wins and Losses is the disparity between 3pt FG%.  During the regular season, the Bulls shot 36.95% from 3 during games in which they won, however that percentage dropped to 31.86 (a decrease of 5.09 percent) during losses in the regular season.

In the playoffs, this disparity is even larger.  The Bulls have shot 36.74 percent in playoff victories, however they have shot 10.68% worse from 3 point land in their three playoff losses.

This decrease in three point percentage has contributed to a decrease in offensive effective field goal percentage (eFG%), which is an adjusted field goal percentage that takes into account that a 3 point basket is worth one more point than a 2 point basket.  During the regular season, the Bulls eFG% was .501 while in the playoffs the Bulls eFG% has dropped to .469.

Although the most glaring deficiency has been Carlos Boozer this postseason, perhaps just as important to the struggling offense has been the occasional cold night from behind the arc.  Two of the Bulls 3 losses have seen them shoot in the teens (15% and 18.8%) from behind the 3 point line.   

Defense

DRtg, or defensive rating, is an estimation of points allowed per 100 possessions.  The Bulls have been just as stingy on the defensive end as they were during the regular season.   

The regular season had the Bulls tied with the Boston Celtics for the tops in the NBA, with the Bulls 2nd overall in the playoffs behind the Orlando Magic.

In addition, the Bulls have seen an increase in blocks per game, up 1.43 per game.  The defensive TOV% has seen a slight decrease from the regular season, down from .136 to .132.  This most likely can be explained by the increase in talent of the teams in the playoffs, however, as the league average has dropped from .134 to .130 in the playoffs.

The effective field goal percentage (eFG%), measures field goal percentage taking into account that a 3 point basket is worth 1 more point than a 2 point basket.  The Bulls .462 eFG% during the playoffs is nearly identical to their regular season percentage of .463.  However, the league average has changed from .498 to .477. 

What these statistics tell us is quite obvious.  There is more talent in the playoffs, and teams are simply better at scoring and defending.  There are no longer the Toronto Raptors or Sacramento Kings available to beat up on.  What these statistics do tell us, however, is the Bulls aren't "playing down" to competition, or "not playing like a number 1 seed" which you will hear from many media pundits.  Besides a slight drop in field goal percentage, they are playing remarkably consistent to their regular season averages.  What may be disconcerting is the fact that other teams have stepped up their play in the postseason compared to their regular season statistics, and we have yet to see a consistent next level from the Chicago Bulls.

"Statistics are like bikinis. They show a lot but not everything."

--Lou Piniella

The statistics can be used to show us what has happened thus far, not what is going to happen.  Tonight, the Bulls take on the Atlanta Hawks in game 6.  It is imperative that they continue to defend, and hopefully defend the 3 point line like they did in game 5 holding the Hawks to 1-12, a paltry 8.3%.  Prior to game 5, teams were shooting 36.6% from 3, up 4% from 32.6 percent in the regular season.  On the offensive end, the outside shot is just as important to our success thus far in the playoffs.  As long as the Bulls don't come out ice cold from 3, and are getting to the free throw line, their offense should be enough to push the Chicago Bulls past the Atlanta Hawks and on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Brian Weaver
@bdweav2

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  • Hawks were 1 for 11 from 3 point land. 9.09%

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