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NBA Playoff Primer: April 23, 2013

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With Kenneth Faried set to return, Golden State has more worries than just David Lee's loss.

That's more like it. Thanks to Joakim Noah and the Bank of CP3, I'm now getting the sense that the Playoffs have truly come alive. Those four/five matchups are some tight series.

And that's why it's such a shame that we're about to be relegated once again to some likely clunkers.

None of the underdogs in tonight's games hold even a 20 percent chance of taking their series. The most likely team to pull a series upset, the Boston Celtics, have a better chance of being swept than actually winning the series. It's that bad.

Are you a Bucks, Celtics, or Warriors fan still holding onto hope? The read on to be slapped with some hard, cold reality. And for the rest of you, make sure to check out our numberFire Premium Section for full betting lines action and game odds in addition to the stats-filled knowledge we're dropping below.

Game 2: Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat

Most Likely Result: Miami Heat in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Miami32.27%34.45%17.21%10.52%94.45%
Milwaukee0.00%0.64%2.08%2.84%5.56%

Stat to Know: Free Throw Factor

Holy cow the Bucks had a ton of problems in Game 1. They couldn't shoot (.457 effective field goal percentage), they couldn't stop Milwaukee from shooting (.610 eFG%), and they gave up 12.2 percent more offensive rebounds than they collected. But the Bucks finished game one with a key problem that if they don't correct it, they won't win a single game: you can NOT send Miami to the free throw line as often as they did.

Miami finished Game 1 with a free throw factor (FT/FGA) of .397. That means that for roughly every five shots that the Heat attempted, the Bucks allowed them to make two free throws. That's almost double the proportion that Milwaukee allowed during the regular season (No. 15 in the NBA), and it's .175 more than Miami averaged during the regular season (No. 6 in the NBA).

Miami's didn't even shoot particularly well from the charity stripe, shooting an 81.8 percent free throw rate on the game. They just attacked the paint with reckless abandonment and forced Milwaukee to foul them. 14 of Milwaukee's 23 fouls were in the act of shooting, and 18 of their 21 defensive fouls resulted in Miami free throws. That just can't happen if you're trying to upset the East's No. 1 seed.

Game 2: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks

Most Likely Result: New York Knicks in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
New York18.43%27.61%18.87%16.89%81.82%
Boston0.00%2.44%7.50%8.26%18.18%

Stat to Know: The Turnover Battle

In Game 1, the Celtics finished with a better free throw factor, comparable effective field goal percentage, and offensive rebound rate... well, you knew they weren't going to win that one. That meant the deciding Four Factors category was turnover rate. And unfortunately for Boston, they got absolutely murdered in that category.

Of the five Celtics starters, four finished Game 1 with a turnover rate of at least 20 percent of their personal possessions. Only Brandon Bass was able to keep the ball in his hands. When Carmelo Anthony and his 1.1 percent regular season steal rate is finishing with four swipes, it's probably not a good thing.

For Boston, though, the turnover rate should regress to the mean. Avery Bradley is the only one of Boston's five starters to have averaged a turnover on over 15 percent of possessions this year, and Bradley's only at 18.8 percent. The Celtics may be 23rd in season turnover rate, but Rajon Rondo's 22.6 percent turnover rate went a long way towards that figure. They should be fine offensively.

Winning the turnover battle may be a different story, though. The Knicks' 13.2 percent turnover rate in Game 1 was actually above their NBA-best 11.7 percent regular season rate. Boston, meanwhile, finished only No. 11 in the NBA at forcing turnovers at a 14.2 percent clip. If turnover rate is indeed the deciding factor, Boston could still be in trouble, even if a repeat of Game 1 doesn't occur.

Game 2: Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets

(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Golden State Warriors

Most Likely Result: Denver Nuggets in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Denver20.49%31.80%18.42%15.60%86.30%
Golden State0.00%1.79%5.58%6.32%13.70%

Stat to Know: Offensive Rebounding Percentage

I covered the effect of David Lee's loss this morning in detail, but there's one stat that I'm extremely excited to see today: who's going to dominate the offensive boards?

In game one, Golden State held a substantial edge on the offensive boards, collecting 25.5 percent of available rebounds on their end while Denver could only collect 14.3 percent of available offensive rebounds on their own end. Even though it was the only one of the Four Factors categories that Golden State won, as Denver took down eFG%, TOV%, and free throw factor, the 11 percent disparity was almost enough for Golden State to win the game.

Strangely enough, it's not the Golden State number that I expect to change in Game 2. Golden State's ORB% almost perfectly matched their 25.4 percent season average, and Carl Landry was actually a better offensive rebounder than Lee in both Game 1 (by 1.4 percent) and the regular season (by 2.4 percent).

It was the defensive end where Golden State held the advantage with Lee, though, bolstered by his 40.6 percent defensive rebound rate in Game 1. With that gone, and Kenneth Faried's 13.2 percent offensive rebound rate set to return, it would be a surprise to see Denver take this category back over. They did lead the NBA during the regular season with a 31.4 percent offensive rebound rate, after all. And if that happens, the Warriors will need to find another crack in the armor of the Denver Nuggets.

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In This Article

Kenneth Faried
PF, Denver Nuggets

David Lee
FC, Golden State Warriors

Avery Bradley
G, Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo
PG, Boston Celtics

Brandon Jennings
PG, Detroit Pistons

Brandon Bass
FC, Boston Celtics

LeBron James
F, Miami Heat

Carl Landry
F, Sacramento Kings

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