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NBA Playoff Primer: April 25, 2013

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As long as DeAndre Jordan keeps pounding the boards (and opposing players), the Clippers should keep rolling.

Two series moved in two completely opposite directions because of one bank shot.

The Nets/Bulls and Clippers/Grizzlies are the two most evenly-matched series (I guess that happens with the 4/5 matchup), but after Chris Paul's Game 2 game-winner, the Clippers now hold over an 85 percent chance of taking the series. The Nets and Bulls, meanwhile, remain locked in their knockout brawl.

Which teams will win tonight? Leave that to the numberFire Premium Section to decide. But for which teams will win the series and the key stats we're looking at tonight, read on, my friend.

Game 3: Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks

Most Likely Result: Miami Heat in 4

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Miami41.17%35.27%13.36%6.95%96.76%
Milwaukee0.00%0.00%1.18%2.07%3.24%

Stat to Know: Milwaukee Guards 3P%

The Milwaukee Bucks won't beat the Heat without a little luck. That's pretty obvious. So why not apply the Golden State/Houston strategy and jack as many 3's as possible and hope it sticks like Golden State's statistically incredible Game 2 performance?

Well, here's the thing: the Bucks have actually done just that, and it has backfired miserably. They jacked 26 shots from long-range in Game 1 and 18 in Game 2, and they came away with just 11 made three-pointers combined between the two games. That's what can happen when you purposefully increase the variance by shooting 3's. Sometimes, you'll get a hot shooting day (Golden State's Game 2) and win solely on the back of your long-range shooting. Other days, though, you'll hit less than 27 percent of those shots. Milwaukee has now done the latter. Twice.

The key to winning, then, will be swinging the variance the other way, and it all starts with those high-shooting guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Their combined 0 for 10 three-point performance from Game 2 is obviously unsatisfactory, and only Jennings' 4 for 10 from long-range in Game 1 has saved this series from being a complete washout.

But to beat Miami, both key scorers will need to outperform even their regular season averages. Ellis shot .287 from long-range this season, while Jennings was much better at .375. Miami, meanwhile, allowed opponents to have a .350 3P% against them this season, only 20th-best in the NBA.

Game 3: Brooklyn Nets at Chicago Bulls

Most Likely Result: Chicago Bulls in 6

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Brooklyn0.00%9.94%14.82%21.28%46.04%
Chicago0.00%14.13%24.33%15.51%53.96%

Stat to Know: Nets Outside Shooting Percentage

What's the difference between a Game 1 victory and a Game 2 defeat for Brooklyn? How about a drop of over .200 in effective field goal percentage (eFG%)?

It seems obvious to say that you won't win if you don't shoot well, but... you won't win if you don't shoot well. I mentioned on Monday that Brooklyn's outside shooting was unsustainable, and boy was I right: the four players I highlighted for their excellent Game 1 shooting (Williams, Watson, Johnson, and Wallace) combined to go 12 for 43 from the field in Game 2. Of the four, none matched his season eFG% average and only Watson sniffed .500 eFG% for the game.

As a team, the Nets shot an effective field goal percentage of .378. That's not just bad; it's pitiful. They only shot worse in one game during the entire regular season - a February 8 loss to the Wizards in which they scored 74 points. Each time the Nets shot worse than .410 eFG% in a game during the regular season (five times), they lost. Obviously, they'll need to shoot better to re-take control of the series in Game 3.

Game 3: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies

Most Likely Result: Los Angeles Clippers in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Los Angeles23.74%31.21%16.08%14.37%85.39%
Memphis0.00%0.00%5.69%8.92%14.61%

Stat to Know: DeAndre Jordan's Rebound Percentage

The key to this series could very well be DeAndre Jordan. I know, it looks just as stupid typed out as it sounded in my head. Take a look at the rebounding totals from the first two games, though, and you'll see why.

In Game 1, Jordan was part of a Clippers absolute slaughter on the boards. They collected 32 percent more offensive boards than the Grizzlies en route to their dominating 21-point victory. For his part, Jordan functioned as a part of a larger whole: he collected 14.2 percent of available offensive rebounds, but perhaps more importantly, he only allowed opposing center Marc Gasol to only collect 7.1 percent of available defensive boards and zero offensive rebounds.

Game 2, though, let Jordan truly shine. After seeing five Clippers players collect at least ten percent of offensive boards in Game 1, only one L.A. player accomplished the feat in Game 2: Mr. Jordan. His outrageous 20.5 percent offensive rebound rate almost singlehandedly carried the Clippers to the offensive rebounding percentage advantage, 23.1 percent to 20.5 percent. And once again, he shut down Gasol's rebounding: Marc collected just 5.1 percent of offensive boards and 14.1 percent of defensive boards.

But here's the thing: even regression to the mean still means high rebounding numbers for Jordan. His 12.7 percent offensive rebound rate during the regular season ranked No. 11 in the NBA, and his 22.4 percent defensive rebound rate was just outside the top 20. Gasol, meanwhile, only collected 18.9 percent of defensive rebounds, a below-average figure for a starting big man. As long as Jordan keeps dominating the boards (and there's no reason to believe he won't), the Clippers should keep rolling.

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In This Article

Marc Gasol
C, Memphis Grizzlies

Gerald Wallace
F, Boston Celtics

DeAndre Jordan
C, Los Angeles Clippers

Monta Ellis
G, Dallas Mavericks

Deron Williams
PG, Brooklyn Nets

Brandon Jennings
PG, Detroit Pistons

C.J. Watson
PG, Indiana Pacers

Joe Johnson
GF, Brooklyn Nets

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