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

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.