Good Sign for Playoffs
With the All-Star rosters set, digested, and criticized completely, it’s approaching the time in the year to start looking forward to the playoffs. Most everyone agrees that playoff games are played differently than regular season games, but most subjective analysis depends on small playoff sample sizes, the dubious notion of clutch, and the results of sophisticated remote psychological analysis. All of these are fun, but a much easier concept to analyze is the simple fact that great players play more minutes in the playoffs. A great bench is less valuable in the playoffs than in the regular season because with the greater importance of the games and more forgiving schedule, these players cede minutes to the best lineups.
In quick attempt to preview which teams might start performing better in the playoffs, I took a look at which most-used lineups thus far perform the best per 82games.com. Of playoff-bound teams, two teams stood out above the rest. The best in the West was the San Antonio Spurs lineup of Parker, Green, Leonard, Splitter, and Duncan which is defending almost 10 points per 100 possessions better than the best defensive team in the league while scoring at a top-10 rate.
As you might’ve guessed from the fact that this is the Heat game preview, the other team that stood out was Miami. Ever since returning to heavy use of the Chalmers, Wade, James, Haslem, Bosh lineup, Miami has enjoyed great success. This lineup is scoring better than any team in the league and defending at a top-three level. Any game where this lineup is used predominantly will be difficult to win for hopeful challengers.
In the game against Indiana earlier this month, the Heat were defeated soundly on the boards on both ends. This happens in most games with the Heat, but it’s particularly problematic against an Eastern Conference foe who rebounds extremely well like the Indiana. For as well as Miami’s main lineup has played this year, this stat is still interesting: this lineup would still be in the bottom five in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.