We’re three games into the Thunder-Rockets Western Conference playoff series. Seems as good a time as any to look at one of my favorite statistics — plus/minus. The score when any individual player is on the court.
Some critics say plus/minus can be misleading for a single game, which is true. But the more games, the more revealing the stat. So let’s look at all the Boomers and all the Rockets and see how they’re doing through three games.
1. Kendrick Perkins +39: Hard to believe, I know. But Perk’s three numbers are +24, +8, +7. The Thunder won Game 1 in a rout, so the plus/minus of everyone in Thunder threads was stout. But Gran Torino has kept his going. It’s clear why. Rocket center Omer Asik is a rebounding demon. It’s one of Houston’s best weapons. Perkins helps put a stop to that. Asik had just one offensive rebound in Game 3.
2. Kevin Durant +36: Durant actually had a -1 in Game 2 and, naturally, a +3 in Game 3, since he played all but 44 seconds.
3. Russell Westbrook +30: Back when the world was young, Westbrook was the Thunder point guard and was +29 and +1 in the first two games of this series.
4. Serge Ibaka +26: Strange numbers for Serge — +26 in the Game 1 rout, then even in each of the next two games. Ibaka’s numbers will increasingly mirror the final score, because he’s going to have play more than ever.
5. Thabo Sefolosha +21: Similar to Serge — +21 in the Game 1 rout, then +1 and -1. And similar to Serge, Thabo’s minutes are going to stay high — he played 42:23 in Game 3.
6. Nick Collison +17: Typical excellent performance for Collison. He was +7 in the Game 1 rout, then +6 and +4, even though in the latter game, Collison made just two of nine shots. Good things happen for the Thunder when Collison is on the court. He and Perkins are the only players with a positive plus/minus in all three games.
7. Derek Fisher +16: Fisher earned his paycheck in Game 3, with a +14. He was +6 and -4 in the first two games. I don’t know how to explain the +14, other than Durant excelled at point guard while Fish was in the game, and Fisher played solid defense and helped out on offense during his 241/2 minutes.
8. Reggie Jackson +4: Interesting numbers for Jackson — +3 in the Game 1 blowout, +10 in the Game 2 tight fit and -9 in Game 3, even though it seemed like Jackson played well.
9. Kevin Martin -2: A disturbing number. Martin had just a +9 in the Game 1 blowout and has been -4 and -7 in the two three-point wins for the Thunder. Martin has got to start making himself more valuable.
10. DeAndre Liggins -2: The almost-forgotten Liggins actually has played in all three games, going -4 in Game 1 mopup duty, -2 in a four-second stint in Game 2 and +4 in 51/2 minutes of Game 3. That was a good sign, that Scotty Brooks trusts Liggins enough to use him early for defensive relief.
Ronnie Brewer is -2 and Perry Jones and Hasheem Thabeet each -4, all in mopup duty of Game 1.
We’ll go in reverse order, from least effective to most effective:
1. Greg Smith -49: Egads — -34 in the Game 1 blowout is forgivable, then Smith was -15 in Game 2. No wonder he was sick in Game 3.
2. Jeremy Lin -46: This isn’t working at all. Lin was -23 in Games 1 and 3. He was even in Game 2 but didn’t play in the second half. The Thunder would much prefer to see Lin on the court rather than Patrick Beverley.
3. James Harden -32: Some of this shocking number is explained by Harden’s heavy minutes and some by the Game 1 blowout (-28). But Harden -4 in Game 2 and even in Game 3. Hello Thabo Sefolosha. When Thabo and Harden are on the court together in this series, the Thunder is outscoring the Rockets 217-193.
4. Carlos Delfino -31: Delfino hit some big shots down the stretch of Game 3, but he’s been largely ineffective — -13, -2 and -16.
5. Chandler Parsons -21: Parsons has actually been quite efficient. His -18 in Game 1 was good compared to the other Rocket mainstays. Parsons was +2 and -5 in the next two games. He’s an offensive force but is not up to speed defensively against the likes of Durant.
6. Patrick Beverley -5: No surprise here. Beverley has been a thorn in the flesh. Even his -18 in Game 1 was impressive; Beverley showed that he would be a factor, while his teammates were getting avalanched. Beverley has been +4 and +9 the last two games.
7. Omer Asik -4: The Rockets were blown by 29 points in Game 1, the damage was done against the Rock: et regulars, yet Asik was just -3. He was +12 in Game 2 and -13 in Game 3. He’s been going at it strongly with Perkins. Of course, that’s a battle Houston has to win decisively to have a chance.
8. Terrence Jones -2: Didn’t even play in Game 2 but was +10 in Game 3, when Smith was sick. We might see more of him.
9. Francisco Garcia +3: The Rockets’ great find in Game 3, Garcia continually bothered Durant. Expect to see more of him. Garcia played just 181/2 minutes combined in the first two games but 32 minutes in Game 3.
10. Aaron Brooks +4: Brooks was +2 in mopup duty of a Game 1 rout, -7 while playing because of Lin’s injury in Game 2 and +9 while playing because of Beverley’s foul trouble in Game 3. He’s had his moments.
James Anderson and Donatas Motiejunas each are +4, achieved in the Game 1 blowout.