Memphis Grizzlies v Atlanta Hawks

Don’t sleep on the Grizzlies and Hawks, or what we can learn by focusing on teams’ playoff rotations

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As the playoffs approach, teams’ regular-season statistics will inevitably be used to compare teams. Occasionally, these numbers will be filtered in some way, but for the most part, full-year statistics will be used.

But what difference does it make now how the Grizzlies played with Rudy Gay, how the Lakers played with Kobe Bryant or how the Heat played with Juwan Howard?

Those players won’t be in their teams’ playoff rotations, so the minutes they played cloud assessments of their teams.

In an attempt to get better data, I’ve used nba wowy! to rank playoff teams by regular-season net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only the lineups that include five players projected to be in the team’s post-season rotation.

This measure is far from perfect. It doesn’t account for opponent or weigh lineups based on how often they’ll be used in the postseason, and it’s impossible to precisely predict a team’s playoff rotation.

But here are a few conclusions I could draw:

  • Every team’s net rating  improved with this adjustment, which makes sense, considering this removes the, presumably, lesser play of end-of-bench players.
  • The Hawks, whose net rating increased by 6.8, improved most.
  • The Bulls, whose net rating increased by 0.3, improved least.
  • The Thunder had the best regular-season net rating (+9.8), but that would tie for fifth after the adjustment.
  • The Grizzlies were the only lower-seeded team to pass their first-round opponent after the adjustment, and Memphis would rank ahead of the Thunder (or Rockets) in a second-round series, too.
  • The Lakers’ numbers are probably pretty unreliable, because with Kobe out, the adjusted number gives more weight to their backups than their remaining starters (who didn’t play much without Kobe).

Here’s how the adjustment affected each team’s offensive rating, defensive rating and net rating. Within each conference, teams are ordered by adjusted net rating.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Miami Heat

Offensive rating: 113.2 to 114.8

Defensive rating: 104.5 to 103.9

Net rating: +8.7 to +10.9

No. 2 New York Knicks

Offensive rating: 111.4 to 116.5

Defensive rating: 106.8 to 106.0

Net rating: +4.6 to +10.5

No. 3 Indiana Pacers

Offensive rating: 104.6 to 107.5

Defensive rating: 100.3 to 100.0

Net rating: +4.3 to +7.5

No. 6 Atlanta Hawks

Offensive rating: 105.2 to 107.7

Defensive rating: 106.2 to 101.9

Net rating: –1.0 to +5.8

No. 4 Brooklyn Nets

Offensive rating: 108.6 to 110.2

Defensive rating: 106.7 to 105.7

Net rating: +1.9 to +4.5

No. 7 Boston Celtics

Offensive rating: 103.7 to 106.3

Defensive rating: 103.9 to 104.8

Net rating: –0.2 to +1.5

No. 5 Chicago Bulls

Offensive rating: 104.1 to 104.5

Defensive rating: 103.6 to 103.7

Net rating: +0.5 to +0.8

No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks

Offensive rating: 104.2 to 106.5

Defensive rating: 107.0 to 107.8

Net rating: –2.8 to –1.3

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 2 San Antonio Spurs

Offensive rating: 108.5 to 108.6

Defensive rating: 101.8 to 97.0

Net rating: +6.7 to +11.6

No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies

Offensive rating: 105.3 to 108.9

Defensive rating: 100.6 to 98.4

Net rating: +4.7 to +10.5

No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder

Offensive rating: 112.3 to 113.7

Defensive rating: 102.5 to 103.5

Net rating: +9.8 to +10.2

No 4. Los Angeles Clippers

Offensive rating: 111.2 to 115.4

Defensive rating: 104.1 to 105.6

Net rating: to +7.1 to +9.8

No. 8 Houston Rockets

Offensive rating: 110.4 to 112.8

Defensive rating: 106.9 to 104.6

Net rating: +3.5 to +8.2

No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Offensive rating: 111.0 to 112.0

Defensive rating: 105.7 to 106.1

Net rating: +5.3 to +5.9

No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers

Offensive rating: 108.5 to 104.7

Defensive rating: 107.2 to 99.8

Net rating: +1.3 to +4.9

No. 6 Golden State Warriors

Offensive rating: 106.5 to 110.1

Defensive rating: 105.6 to 106.8

Net rating: +0.9 to +3.3

Watch all 25 threes from Cleveland in Game 2 win

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Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.

Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.

In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.

Cavaliers threes shotchart

Report: Rockets to interview Mike D’Antoni, Frank Vogel for coaching vacancy

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on February 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 126-122.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.

The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.

Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.

Cavs set single-game three-point record in blowout win over Hawks

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On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.

Nope.

The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.

The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.

18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:

That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.

LeBron James whips one-handed pass, leads to open Kevin Love three (VIDEO)

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 2: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for a loose ball against Al Horford #15 and Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena on May 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 104-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:

The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.