Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tim Donaghy and the Bucks

As soon as word leaked that the FBI was investigating NBA referee Tim Donaghy, every team's conspiracy theorists immediately began speculating how Donaghy may have screwed over their favorite team. If you're wondering if Donaghy may have had some impact on Bucks' games, you might be interested in knowing that Donaghy worked four Bucks games in 06/07 and three in 05/06, the period in which he's suspected of attempting to fix games.

The first thing to keep in mind with all of this is that it's difficult for a single referee in a team of three to obviously cause one team to lose, and let's not forget the Bucks spent the latter half of last season do we say this...adverse incentives to win. So the odds of the Bucks being materially impacted by Donaghy are minimal. In Donaghy's games the past two seasons the Bucks were 3-4 overall and 1-4-2 against the spread (according to

Bucks @ Cavs -6 (99-109)
Bucks @ Pacers -7 (129-136)
Bucks -3 vs. Clips (103-104)
Bucks -6 vs. Hawks (102-96)

Bucks @ Nets -8.5 (110-96)
Bucks @ Clips -5 (85-109)
Bucks -11.5 vs. Blazers (97-93)

It's also important that Donaghy was supposedly working to influence point spreads and not game outcomes, which makes it harder to gauge his effect. And we don't know exactly which side of the action he might have been on in any given game, if at all. If one game does stand out among the games Donaghy worked, it's the 136-129 loss to the Pacers last season. The Bucks staged an improbable comeback to tie the game in the last 30 seconds and forced a second overtime in spite of four Bucks fouling out--Mo Williams, Andrew Bogut, Brian Skinner, and Jared Reiner. The Pacers shot 54 free throws to the Bucks' 38.

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