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NBA Playoff Primer: April 26, 2013

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Stephen Curry should be the key that determines whether Golden State can take control of their first round series.

Another day, another set of Game 3's. Only this time, it's a few of the backups who are drawing all of the attention.

David Lee's absence proved to not be a big issue for Golden State in Game 2, but when will their lack of size catch up to them? Can the Lakers manage with essentially their entire backcourt on bedrest? And with Russell Westbrook out indefinitely, are the Spurs now the favorites in the West?

These are just some of the questions we're excited to see answered on the court tonight, and we're here to bring you a breakdown of what to expect in each game. 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 3: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics

Most Likely Result: New York Knicks in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
New York26.38%32.86%17.13%13.33%89.70%
Boston0.00%0.00%3.86%6.44%10.30%

Stat to Know: Boston's Offensive Rebounding

We all know that Boston cares about offensive rebounding about as much as they care about correctly pronouncing the letter R - what's the use? Boston got to the playoffs this year with the dead-last offensive rebounding percentage in the entire NBA, a 20.1 percent mark that sits under two percent below even the 27th-place team. But if San Antonio can win without it (29th this season at 20.5%), then Boston can too, right?

But at least San Antonio maintained their poor-but-still-functioning offensive rebound percentage in the playoffs, putting up a 24.3 percent rate in Game 2 and actually winning the battle with 17.6 percent in Game 1 against the Lakers. Their Boston counterparts, meanwhile, apparently feel like following your shot is something that only nerds do.

In two games this series, Boston has collected 11.8 percent and 7.9 percent of their offensive rebounds, respectively. In Game 1, New York nearly doubled Boston's offensive rebound percentage, and in Game 2, they accomplished the feat and then some. Brandon Bass's 7.4 percent offensive rebound rate in Game 2 was the single-highest individual ORB% among Celtics players over the first two games. K-Mart

topped 15 percent individually in both games.

Considering that Boston has one exactly one Four Factors category in two games (Free Throw Factor, Game 1), it would do them well to actually show some effort on the offensive glass. Not winning the offensive rebounding battle is fine, but losing the second-chance points battle 21 to 11 (including a ton of easy misses by the Knicks on opportunities) is not the way to stay in the series.

Game 3: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers

Most Likely Result: San Antonio Spurs in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
San Antonio27.57%32.30%17.24%13.23%90.33%
Los Angeles0.00%0.00%3.69%5.98%13.87%

Stat to Know: Lakers' Backup Guard Play

We touched on this heavily earlier today, but the Lakers are only likely to go as far as Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris take them. The two guards who played in a combined 59 games this season will be expected to carry the load for the Lakers, and it could get ugly.

Darius Morris may have finished his 23 minutes in Game 2 with an unreasonably high .714 effective field goal percentage (eFG%), but his 123 defensive rating would have me worried against Tony Parker. Goudelock, meanwhile, finished with only a 95 offensive rating and a 110 defensive rating in 40 games for the Lakers last season. He may have been the D-League MVP this season, but starting in a must-win NBA playoff game against the Spurs is a completely different ballgame.

This means that, if the Lakers want to win, it will take a statistically unlikely performance from Goudelock and Morris to make it happen. And what's the best way to increase the variation? Three-pointers, of course! Goudelock attempted 6.4 3's per 36 minutes for the Lakers last season and made 37.3 percent of them. Morris, meanwhile, attempted 3.6 3's per 36 minutes and made 36.4 percent of them. I wouldn't be surprised if the Lakers pound the ball inside early in an attempt to set up those easy 3-pointers tonight. The only question is, will the young guns make them?

Game 3: Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors

Most Likely Result: Denver Nuggets in 7

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Denver0.00%20.29%22.27%25.36%67.91%
Golden State0.00%6.68%14.63%10.77%32.09%

Stat to Know: Stephen Curry's eFG%

We know that Golden State isn't the same team that showed up on Tuesday night. Nobody is the same team that showed up on Tuesday night. It just won't happen again. But with that said, their low .457 eFG% from Game 1 isn't exactly likely to happen, either. They only shot that badly 14 times in 82 games (although one of those did come against Denver on November 10).

So which Golden State team will we see? A good place to start is with Stephen Curry and his 26.4 percent usage rate in Game 2. With David Lee out, the offense started with Curry and ended with just about everybody, since nobody could miss. But even in Game 1, Curry managed a 24.6 percent usage rate, even with Lee demanding the ball. The Golden State offense goes as he goes.

Against Denver, that could actually be a good thing. With the 13th-best defensive eFG% in the NBA during the regular season at .493, you would expect Denver to post a reasonable challenge against Curry. But the strength of their defense clearly does not lie in the point guard position. Ty Lawson and Andre Miller finished the season tied for the highest defensive rating on the Nuggets, allowing 109 points per 100 possessions. Evan Fournier allowed 108, and no other active Nuggets player allowed more than 105.

That lack of point guard defense has allowed Curry to explode against Denver this season. In four regular season games against the Nuggets, Curry never shot under .500 eFG%. In one of those games, January 13 in Denver, Curry finished with his sixth-highest single-game percentage of the season at .806 eFG%. Suddenly, Game 1's .450 eFG% looks more like an outlier than Game 2's .652 eFG%. The Warriors will need Curry to shoot well to have a chance, and Curry's odds of doing so are high.

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In This Article

Andrew Goudelock
G, Los Angeles Lakers

Darius Morris
G, Memphis Grizzlies

Stephen Curry
G, Golden State Warriors

Brandon Bass
FC, Boston Celtics

Kenyon Martin
FC, New York Knicks

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