If you were to name a playoffs MVP at this point, you would have to choose between Chris Paul, LeBron James and Kevin Durant … and maybe Derrick Rose. But beyond the stars with the big individual numbers, there are players who have made a big difference on the scoreboard without actually scoring points.
If Shane Battier could be heralded as a no-stats All-Star in The New York Times back in 2009, then Joel Anthony and Jason Collins, two guys that would have trouble scoring in an empty gym, deserve to be called no-stats playoff MVP candidates here on the Hang-Time Blog.
The Miami Heat‘s starting lineup has been outscored 131-102 in their series with the Philadelphia 76ers (and 97-60 when they’re on the floor with the Sixers’ starters). But they’re up 3-1 in large part because Anthony has helped shut down Philly’s offense once he’s entered the game.
According to NBA.com StatsCube, the Sixers have scored 117.1 points per 100 possessions in 76 minutes with Anthony on the bench, but just 82.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Say what you want about his offensive game, but Anthony is a defensive force.
Collins has had a similar effect on the Orlando Magic‘s offense. They’ve scored just 76.6 points per 100 possessions in 72 minutes with him on the floor vs. 108.8 in 120 minutes with him on the bench, as the Atlanta Hawks have taken a 3-1 lead in the East’s 4-5 series.
Those numbers come close to matching The Collins Effect in the regular season: 72.9 on and 105.0 off. With Collins starting, the Hawks are 6-2 against the Magic this season. Compare that to Atlanta’s 1-7 record against Orlando last season, when Collins played just 16 total minutes in the eight games. (Don’t necessarily blame former Hawks coach Mike Woodson here. Collins is in much better shape this year.)
Collins, of course, is no stranger to postseason success. He played in two straight Finals for the New Jersey Nets, off the bench in 2002 and as a starter in 2003. And the last time he was a starter in the playoffs, he neutralized Chris Bosh (who shot less than 40 percent over six games) to allow the Nets to pull off a 3-6, first-round upset against the Toronto Raptors in 2007.
Four years later, Collins is one game away from keying another first-round upset. He’s frustrated Dwight Howard in this series, holding Howard to just 17.0 points per 48 minutes when he’s on the floor.
This isn’t the first time Collins has had success in defending Howard. In 591 career games in which he’s played at least 25 minutes (including postseason), his two lowest scoring games came against Collins and the Nets. Collins held Howard to two points on 1-for-5 shooting on March 13, 2005 and to one point on 0-for-6 shooting on Jan. 20, 2007.
The Collins Effect goes beyond Howard’s numbers. By defending Howard one-on-one, Collins allows his teammates to stay at home on the perimeter. The Magic are shooting a league-low 29.1 percent from five feet or beyond in the postseason, and just 26.5 percent when Collins is on the floor.
If the Magic are going to extend the series with a win tonight in Game 5 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV), they’ll need to start making some shots. But that’s proven to be difficult with the Hawks’ no-stats MVP on the floor.