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NBA Playoff Primer: April 29, 2013

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How is Brooklyn supposed to win when they aren't taking advantage of their offensive rebounding ability?

Rest in peace, Lakers and Bucks, and may your seasons be better next year. For 14 teams, though, we play on, although that number could be reduced to 12 by the end of the night.

While the Nets and Rockets are staring in the face of cold, hard reality, the Hawks looked strong against the Pacers in Game 3. Does that mean Atlanta has a decent shot to beat the Pacers? According to our analytics, the odds aren't too great.

For specific game predictions, including betting lines and comparable games, check out our numberFire Premium Section. But for the stats we're watching for and the series odds moving forward, read on below.

Game 5: Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets

Most Likely Result: Chicago Bulls in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Brooklyn0.00%0.00%0.00%13.85%13.85%
Chicago0.00%41.76%34.29%10.10%86.15%

Stat to Know: Nets Offensive Rebounding Percentage

Call it the Denver Nuggets Syndrome: for a team that finished third in offensive rebound percentage during the regular season at 30.9 percent of available opportunities (ORB%), you would think that Brooklyn would be able to use offensive rebounding as a strength. Instead, they have not surpassed 24.3 percent ORB% in a single game this series.

That's not to say that they have lost the rebounding battle; in fact, they had a higher ORB% than Chicago in their Game 4 loss, and they only finished 0.4 percent behind Chicago's offensive rebound rate in Game 2. But it's tough when Chicago has a higher ORB% in three of the four games, and rebounding hasn't been as strong of a strength this season. Their ORB% finished 1.5 percent lower than Brooklyn during the regular season, and their defensive rebounding percentage finished 0.3 percent lower.

Similar to Denver, it's tough to place the blame on any one player. Reggie Evans (15.5%), Kris Humphries (12.2%), Andray Blatche (12.2%), and Brook Lopez (10.8%) each grabbed over 10 percent of available offensive boards during the regular season. But in the playoffs, only Lopez is above 10 percent at a 10.9 percent rate, and Evans is all the way down at 4.6 percent in his increased minutes.

For Brooklyn, that simply won't get it done. Because of Chicago's competitive advantages at effective field goal percentage and turnovers, Brooklyn needs to take advantage of their rebounding ability as much as they can. In the first four games of the series, they simply haven't made it a priority, instead hoping for an outlier shooting performance (such as Game 1) to get the win.

Game 4: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks

Most Likely Result: Indiana Pacers in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Indiana0.00%31.27%25.43%22.71%79.41%
Atlanta0.00%0.00%9.07%11.52%20.59%

Stat to Know: Indiana Effective Field Goal Percentage

Game 3 won't happen again. That's a promise, from one stats mind to you. Indiana's pitiful, pathetic, hard-to-watch .296 effective field goal percentage (eFG%) from Game 3 simply won't happen again.

I'm not saying that it can't: anything is statistically possible. But Indiana's single-worst eFG% performance of the season was only .341 eFG%, on January 3 against Boston. Not a single team shot worse than .300 eFG% during the regular season; the lowest was actually the Hawks themselves with a .305 eFG% performance against Chicago. A shooting game this bad was unprecedented during the regular season.

And thanks to the good ole rule of regression to the mean, it's more likely that the Pacers will shoot closer to their season-average .479 eFG% than their Game 3 total. George Hill will be closer to .518 eFG% than .125 eFG%. Lance Stephenson will be closer to .512 than .214. Paul George is more of a .491 than a .400 guy. And so on and so forth.

The Hawks shouldn't be able to do too much about it. Over the regular season, their defensive effective field goal percentage sat a mediocre .496 eFG%, No. 16 in the NBA. And in the first two games of the series, the Hawks allowed the Pacers to shoot above their season average, topping .490 eFG% each game. We're expecting a return to that Indiana form tonight.

Game 4: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Most Likely Result: Oklahoma City Thunder in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Oklahoma City54.20%31.59%7.75%4.56%98.10%
Houston0.00%0.00%0.00%1.90%1.90%

Stat to Know: Oklahoma City Turnover Percentage

If you wanted a stat that would be a crapshoot, it had to be the sheer amount of expected turnovers in the Oklahoma City and Houston series. OKC ended the regular season at No. 29 in offensive turnover percentage at 14.4 percent. Houston? Well, they were behind them in dead-last, at 14.9 percent. It seemed that if OKC could manage their turnovers, they would be in for an easy ride, while if Houston did the same, they could close the gap to the one-seed Thunder.

However, the turnover advantage was not in the Rockets' corner. But it's not a function of their own turnover percentage; Houston has finished under their season average in each of the three games, going no higher than Game 2's 13.5 percent rate. The problem is forcing the turnovers: Oklahoma City has been extraordinarily careful with the ball.

12.0 percent, 11.2 percent, 9.9 percent: Oklahoma City's turnover rate has decreased in all three of their games, and none of the games has seen them even within a stone's throw of their 14.4 percent season average. The main culprits seem to be the forwards. Durant's playoff turnover rate sits 5.9 percent below his regular season rate, Serge Ibaka sits 9.9 percent lower, and Nick Collison has not had a single playoff turnover in 48 minutes after having a 17.3 percent rate during the regular season.

Houston forced a 13.5 percent turnover rate during the regular season (No. 19 in the NBA), but it wasn't exactly their big men that were known for their quick hands. Omer Asik forced only 2.6 turnovers per 36 minutes, 0.8 less than he gave up. Greg Smith, meanwhile, only forced 2.0 turnovers per 36 minutes while at power forward this season.

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In This Article

Nick Collison
FC, Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant
F, Oklahoma City Thunder

Serge Ibaka
FC, Oklahoma City Thunder

Brook Lopez
C, Brooklyn Nets

Paul George
GF, Indiana Pacers

George Hill
G, Indiana Pacers

Lance Stephenson
GF, Indiana Pacers

Omer Asik
FC, Houston Rockets

Andray Blatche
FC, Brooklyn Nets

Kris Humphries
FC, Boston Celtics

Reggie Evans
FC, Sacramento Kings

Greg Smith
FC, Chicago Bulls

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