How the DeMarre Carroll Injury Impacts the Atlanta Hawks' NBA Title Odds
The Atlanta Hawks have been the team to beat in the Eastern Conference for what seems like a year now.
Even while struggling against the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round of the NBA playoffs -- and after some off-court issues that have caused Thabo Sefolosha to miss the rest of the season with a broken leg -- the Hawks were still the team to beat in the East.
Now, the Hawks not only are down 0-1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers but also face the potential of losing DeMarre Carroll to injury as well.
The Game 1 loss dropped Atlanta's series win odds from 57.22 percent at the start of the series to 37.53 percent. That mark, however, doesn't account for the potential loss of Carroll for the series.
If, theoretically, Carroll, who is currently considered day-to-day, were to miss the rest of the season, how do the Hawks' chances change?
Life Without DeMarre
Carroll's outlook is certainly optimistic, but if he is unable to return to the floor, then our algorithms give the Hawks a 33.35 percent chance to advance past the Cavaliers, who now own homecourt advantage as a result of the Game 1 victory in Atlanta.
That also drops the team's NBA title chances from 10.81 percent to 8.03 percent. Prior to Game 1, the Hawks owned an 18.07 percent chance to win the title.
But even without DeMarre, the Hawks can't be written off yet. After all, for as good as Carroll was in the regular season -- his nERD score of 5.8, which indicates he'd have added 5.8 wins above .500 to a league average team this year, ranked 29th in the league -- the Hawks were a good team even when he wasn't on the floor.
Check out the Hawks' regular season splits with and without Carroll.
|Split||Minutes||eFG%||ORtg||Opp eFG%||DRtg||Net Rtg|
The team's Effective Field Goal Percentage was roughly the same with and without Carroll, but the team's offense performed 2.4 points better per 100 possessions (evidenced by the Offensive Rating) with Carroll on the floor.
But Carroll, who has the reputation of a good defender, didn't exactly impact the team's defense for the better. The Hawks allowed a higher Effective Field Goal Percentage to opponents with Carroll on the floor, and Atlanta allowed 3.0 more points per 100 possessions with Carroll.
All told, the Hawks fared about 0.5 points better per 100 possessions without Carroll in the regular season, but why?
Well, the defense thing.
Carroll's Defensive Real Plus Minus of -0.56 ranked 41st among small forwards during 2014-15. Last year, his mark of 1.92 ranked 10th at the position.
Simply put, Carroll actually impacted the team's offense more this year than last year. His 4.3 Offensive Win Shares ranked 28th in the NBA this year (his 2.8 Defensive Win Shares ranked tied for 46th with a few players including teammate Jeff Teague).
Offense, though, is something the Hawks can survive: each player in their typical starting five finished the regular season in the top 33 in Offensive Win Shares. Al Horford ranked 18th (5.1 Offensive Win Shares), Teague (5.0) and Kyle Korver (5.0) tied with two other players for 19th, Carroll (4.3) was 28th, and Paul Millsap (4.0) tied for 33rd.
So, Carroll's overall defensive presence wasn't as substantial as it may have seemed, and his offense will be missed but perhaps not drastically. Still, his surely would have affected LeBron James, right?
Well, Carroll mustered just 10.3 points on 28.6 percent from three against the Cavs in three games this season. In Game 1, not much changed. In 34 minutes, Carroll mustered just 5 points on 2 of 7 shooting from the field (and 1 of 4 from deep) to go along with 3 assists, 2 steals, and a single rebound. He exited with plus/minus of -10.
Down But Not Out
The key to the equation right now is that Carroll isn't expected to be out indefinitely, but it is fair to question his potential effectiveness after such an injury -- and considering his numbers against the Cavaliers already this year.
The Hawks' Game 1 swung the odds pretty drastically and, even though the odds don't shrink too much more without Carroll, Atlanta clearly has an uphill battle ahead of them.
Of course, Kyrie Irving is also questionable for Game 2, and if he misses the game, then the rest of Atlanta's superb roster could draw the series even even without Carroll on the court.