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

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.