This week, we noticed another interesting plus/minus line from the Heat's 102-99 win over the Bucks on Wednesday, this time involving two teammates. In 40 minutes, Andrew Bogut finished plus 11 in the loss. In 37 minutes, Michael Redd finished minus 10. How could two players who play so many of the same minutes have such drastically different plus/minus scores? We checked the game log to find out, and what we found didn't surprise us: Nearly the entire difference can be explained by one nine-minute stretch in which Redd was on the court and Bogut was not.
The Bucks were up 18-8 when Skiles replaced Bogut with Dan Gadzuric with 5:18 left in the first quarter. When Bogut re-entered the game at the 9:32 mark of the second quarter, the Heat were up 36-28--an 18-point swing. For all but a few of their remaining minutes, Bogut and Redd were on the court together.
Three questions need to be asked, then:
1) How much did Bogut contribute to that early lead?
2) Why did the Bucks fall apart without him for nine minutes?
3) Was Redd really that bad for that nine-minute span?
The answer to question one is unclear (I didn't watch the game). Bogut had one basket and a couple of boards as the Bucks jumped out early. Miami started cold, going 3-11, and it's reasonable to conclude Bogut contributed to that; several sets of numbers show the Bucks D performs much better with Bogut on the floor.
The answer to question two is easy: Miami went off from the perimeter (jumpers from Beasley and Marion, and five threes from Daequan Cook, who's playing so well he may merit his own post soon. Chris Quinn chipped in a three as well).
As for the last question, Redd went 0-4 during the nine-minute span. It's unclear who he was guarding on the other end, but Redd's never been regarded as a good defensive player.
Overall, Redd scored 16 points, but it would have been hard for him to score those points less efficiently. He was 8-21 from the floor, attempted zero free throws, grabbed one board and recorded zero assists. He also committed five fouls. Redd did have two steals against one turnover, but, in general, it appears Redd deserved a minus 10 for the night.
Did Bogut deserve a plus 11? That's less clear.
By the way, for the year, Redd leads the team in plus minus. Broken down further, the stats show Milwaukee performs much better offensively with Redd on the court and at about average levels (for them) on defense. So when Redd sputters on offense, he can turn into a liability--which is what happened Wednesday.
So does that mean plus/minus actually works? My head hurts.