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16 Things These NBA Playoffs Have Taught Us So Far

Portland Trail Blazers v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four

The first week of the 2018 NBA Playoffs came to a close Sunday night and I think we can all agree that they’ve been fantastic. I can’t remember a postseason that had as much hype leading into it that has delivered so consistently even in the first round. It makes sense given how close every playoff team seemed to be all year, and I’m just happy that it’s carried over once everyone started trying. Seeing as how most teams have now played twice on each other’s floor, I figured it’s Monday and you definitely don’t want to work, so I went ahead and found 16 interesting things I’ve learned from the playoffs so far. If I miss any that also has caught you attention, just let me know in the comments.

1. The Pelicans are for real

Not only are they the only team to already advance to the second round, they did it in dominant fashion. They lead all playoff teams in Ortg (114.7) are 5th in Drtg (104.3). Their +10.4 net rating trails only GS, they team they are most likely going to be facing in the second round.

2. Someone needs to tell Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins to stop isolating

When you think of the best iso players in the league, how many do you rattle off before you get to Jeff Teague? Well, Teague is running iso a playoff high 42% of the time, yet stands in the 63rd percentile. Add in Andrew Wiggins, who runs it 26% of the time (7th) he stands in the 26th percentile. You want to know why MINs offense often looks like death and KAT never seems to get the ball? Well there’s a big part of it.

3. For some reason CJ Miles can no longer score off screens

You may not watch a ton of Raptors basketball, but how they use CJ Miles off screens was a big part of his offense during the regular season. He came off screens 22.6% of the time and lived in the 63rd percentile. Not great, but not terrible. Well so far in this playoffs he has come off screens on 32.8% of his possessions and ranks in the 0th (?) percentile. As the leader of the Bench Mob, I consider that important.

4. So far this season the starting lineup of Westbrook/George/Brewer/Melo/Adams has a -5.6 net rating

This is only the starting lineup for OKC, no reason to panic or anything.

5. Speaking of starting lineups, the five that IND throw out are currently 2nd among playoff teams with a net rating of +24.3

You want to know why IND has been able to hang with CLE thus far, it’s been the play of this group. Their defensive rating of 78.4 is by far the best of any starting unit in the playoffs, and that’s really their only shot. If they can defend like this then the series should work out in their favor.

6. Giannis has been the best player in “clutch” situations this playoffs, averaging 10.0 points during those times.

Great defense Celtics you assholes.

7. Pressure is on Kyle Lowry to step up his defense as John Wall leads everyone with 26.3 drives per game shooting 45%

It goes without saying that the efficiency of Beal/Wall are going to be key in this series, and if you watched the last two games, especially Game 4, you can see that Wall has figured out how to get to the rim against this TOR defense and he’s exposing the shit out of Kyle Lowry.

8. CJ McCollumn ran the most distance in his quick series, totaling 2.96 miles.

And he can keep running all the way to summer vacation amirite?

9. Despite their seed, the Bucks have 3 players in the top 20 in PER

Giannis, Middleton, and fucking Thon Maker have all been insane. To put this into perspective, during the regular season the Bucks had 1 player in the Top 50.

10. Pick your poison against PHI, it doesn’t matter

Few teams look as good as PHI does right now, and it really doesn’t matter how you try and defend them. They can kill you from deep, where they rank 3rd in 3PM shooting 38.8%. Or they can just run P&R with Simmons and beat you that way. The Sixers are the best team this playoffs in terms of production from the ball handler in P&R, averaging 1.00 points per possession while shooting 56%. Good luck stopping that.

11. Playoff Rondo is real, and he is spectacular

Just a little 11.3/7.5/13.3 on 47/42% shooting. Love Playoff Rondo and always will until my last breath.

12. The Celtics kids are showing up

Look we had no idea what to expect from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum heading into this playoffs, but both have responded well. Jaylen is having a breakout series and Tatum has continued to be his consistent solid self. Who knows how far they go, but the play of those two has definitely been impressive.

13. Anthony Davis is staying in NO for a long time

Any hopes that he may be on the move as a result of a quick playoff exit can be put to bed. Not only has he been the best overall player so far this playoffs, but his team is winning. No chance he demands a trade out of there after this run, especially if they can have a competitive series with GS.

14. The top 5 most effective players so far will shock you

If you look at overall +/- (not a tell all be all but still interesting) here is how the top 5 looks

1. Nikola Mirotic

2. Joe Ingles

3. Marco Belinelli

4. Jrue Holiday/Amir Johnson

5. Kevin Durant

Who saw that coming???

15. At the end of the day, defense still matters

We all love great offensive performances, but in the playoffs defense still remains king. For example, the teams with the worst defended FG% (BOS, POR, TOR, SA) are all in a bit of a sticky situation, and one is eliminated. Teams like GS, HOU and MIL are all among the best teams in defended FG%, and you can see their series (outside of MIL) have a different feel.

16. Where did the TOR bench go?

No debate, this was the best bench unit all year. This playoffs? Not so much. They rank 5th in points which isn’t bad, but they are dead last, I repeat dead last in +/- of any playoff team currently.

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Who’s been the best? Well that would be the Sixers. They get 38 points from their bench a night (3rd) and have a playoff best +5.6 in their 16 minutes a night. Just so you’re keeping track, that is two unicorn players AND the best bench so far for PHI. No wonder they are killing the Heat.

This was just a quick list of some things that have stood out to me so far so I’ll ask you, fine reader. What has surprised you most through the first week?