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NBA Playoff Primer: April 24, 2013

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The only Atlanta starter to get an offensive rebound in Game 1? Devin Harris. That needs to change if they have a chance.

Another night, another outlier.

We told you yesterday to watch out for Golden State's ability to grab rebounds with David Lee gone. And while the focus was (rightly) on that ungodly .734 effective field goal percentage, the Warriors also out-offensive rebounded Denver by seven percent en route to a Game 2 victory. That increases Golden State's series win odds to 32.5 percent heading into Game 3.

Can one of tonight's teams pull a Golden State? 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, look out below.

Game 2: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

Most Likely Result: Oklahoma City Thunder in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Oklahoma City22.27%29.41%18.73%14.77%85.17%
Houston0.00%1.99%5.57%7.26%14.83%

Stat to Know: Houston Three Point Percentage

Per basketball-reference, here is Houston's shot chart from Game 1. Isn't all of the red pretty?

Houston shot chart

The Houston Rockets shot 1 for 8 from long range in the first quarter, 3 for 10 in the second quarter, 1 for 7 in the third quarter, and 3 for 11 in the fourth quarter. When you add it all up, you get immediate blindness from the complete atrocity of it all (otherwise known as 8 for 36 syndrome). I think it's safe to say that a 22.2 3-point percentage isn't going to fly when you're trying to beat Houston.

But it's not exactly a surprise that it occurred. The Rockets shot the second-most three-pointers in the NBA this season and finished with the eighth-highest 3P% at .366. In a recent Reddit AMA, Daryl Morey said the Rockets' strategy would be to increase the variance and hope for a hot shooting night, and that's exactly what jacking up 36 threes in Game 1 does.

However, against the Thunder, it might not be the most sound strategy. As they demonstrated so skillfully already, they're pretty good guarding the perimeter. The Thunder only allowed opponents to shoot .346 from long-range against them this year, the fifth-best mark in the NBA.

Game 2: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers

Most Likely Result: Indiana Pacers in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Indiana16.66%26.23%17.53%17.27%77.71%
Atlanta0.00%3.12%9.42%9.77%22.29%

Stat to Know: Atlanta Rebound Percentage

For all of the talk about their defense that could stop Daenerys Targaryen and her Unsullied (hipster bands created with this name on Sunday night: six), most people don't realize just how fearsome Indiana can be on the boards. Sitting fourth in offensive rebound percentage (30.3 percent) and sixth in defensive rebound percentage (74.6 percent), it would take a downright Herculean effort to take down the Pacers on the boards.

Instead, the Hawks were positively Medusa-esque. Offensive rebounding percentage was expected to be a problem considering Atlanta only collected 22.2 percent of them during the regular season, good for only 27th in the NBA. However, losing the offensive rebound battle 36.6 percent to 15.4 percent is a tiny bit ridiculous.

The Hawks' five starters (who averaged about 33 minutes between them) grabbed exactly one offensive rebound. And that was Devin Harris, not even Al Horford or Josh Smith. Atlanta's big men were absolutely dominated on the glass.

The key for Atlanta won't be winning the rebound battle, but at least keeping it manageable. They managed to outshoot Indiana .546 eFG% to .494 eFG% in Game 1, but when the Pacers gain 19 second-chance points to the Hawks' 19, their ability to get more open shots is somewhat nullified.

Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs

Most Likely Result: San Antonio Spurs in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
San Antonio15.53%26.04%17.73%17.61%76.92%
Los Angeles0.00%3.26%9.10%10.74%23.10%

Stat to Know: Turnover Rate

Forcing turnovers isn't exactly one of the Lakers' top qualities. They only forced turnovers on 11.9 percent of opponents' possessions; only the Orlando Magic and their complete defensive ineptitude were worse. Don't think that losing Kobe would help as well: at least he forced opposing shooting guards to turn the ball over 2.2 times per 48 minutes while committing 4.7 turnovers per 48 minutes himself.

Coming into the series, I thought that number may raise a bit, especially considering San Antonio's penchant for being unable to hold onto the ball themselves. The Spurs turned the ball over at a 14.0 percent clip this season, No. 22 in the league. Tony Parker and his 13.0 percent regular season turnover rate would mitigate that a bit, but surely, the Lakers would keep the turnover race close, right?

But now, I think it's safe to say that San Antonio's starters receiving full playing time will have a bigger effect than I thought. The Lakers only forced the Spurs into nine turnovers all game, or turnovers on only 8.6 percent of San Antonio's possessions. Meanwhile, the Lakers turned the ball over on 17.7 percent of their possessions. The Spurs finished the game with more steals (12) than turnovers (9).

By the numbers, we don't see this changing much in the future. The Lakers would be bucking a trend if they forced the Spurs into a high turnover rate at this point, so their only hope is keeping their own personal turnover rate low. Given Pau Gasol's six Game 1 turnovers and Steve Nash's near-20 percent right, the likelihood of that happening is extremely small.

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In This Article

Tony Parker
PG, San Antonio Spurs

James Harden
GF, Houston Rockets

Kobe Bryant
G, Los Angeles Lakers

Pau Gasol
FC, Los Angeles Lakers

Jeremy Lin
G, Houston Rockets

Roy Hibbert
C, Indiana Pacers

Al Horford
FC, Atlanta Hawks

Josh Smith
F, Detroit Pistons

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