In Bob Kravtiz’s Sunday Indianapolis Star column into whether or not current Interim-Coach Frank Vogel will be back next season, he made a brief foray into statisics to illustrate the difficulty of the decision. Vogel, he noted, has only 6 wins against teams qualified for this year’s playoffs. And then he stopped. Bob ventured no deeper into the statistical morass.
Sometimes, when folks cite certain numbers and ignore others, for whatever purpose, it can slip right by you. But this? Gee whiz, Bob, didn’t you think readers might want to know how many he has lost against playoff teams? And how that compares to Pacers performance prior to Vogel? It seems like something just as relevant. Is he 6-0? Is he 6-30? Is he, as I presumed, somewhere in between?
I wanted to know so I checked. (I went through the schedule four times and only got a different result once. Damn numbers swamp.)
After yesterday’s loss to the Knicks, the Pacers are now 6-7 against 2010-11 playoff teams since Frank Vogel took over following the 110-89 loss to the Bulls on January 29 at the United Center. That was Jim O’Brien’s last road trip with the team, and an era came to a bumpy, somewhat unexpected stop somewhere on a bleak, frozen shoulder of I-65.
Overall, the Pacers’ record under Vogel is 20-17. So, sure, a record of 6-7 against playoff caliber competition isn’t all that impressive, and I suppose that’s why Bob Kravitz used the figures to illustrate the front office dilemma. Under Jim O’Brien, however, the Pacers’ record this season against playoff teams was 7-19. That’s 7-19 under JOB versus 6-7 under “Happy” Frank Vogel. (I’d tell you what those percentages are, and how they compare, but I’m tired of this little calculator thing.)
One thing for sure … that 7-19 tally probably didn’t contribute much to a front office dilemma over JOB’s retention.
But having satisfied my statistical jones, I have to say … so what? I dug up the numbers I wanted to see, but what’s the relevance going forward? Frank Vogel won’t be interviewing against Jim O’Brien for the next year’s head coach position, will he? Maybe he’ll be interviewing against the ghost of Jim O’Brien — the legend of Jim O’Brien, if you will — but Jim will not be out in the foyer waiting for his time in front of the hiring committee.
So, like many statistics, we can look at this one and feel vindicated (or not) in our assessment of the reality of Frank vs JOB. But like all statistics, it looks backward. Records are all in the past. The Pacers performance in the actual playoffs is going to happen in real time, and will proceed as it proceeds.
The last couple of months’ experience of the Frank Vogel Pacers will surely have some effect on the playoff outcome. Past is prelude, after all. But the relevance of the record of the Jim O’Brien Pacers, however, is diminishing, as the JOB era recedes into a dim image in the rear view mirror. It is recalled, if at all, only for trivial argument. “Did we take a wrong turn there? Did we stay on that road too long?”
At this point, it doesn’t matter.
We’re here already.