NBA Playoff Primer: April 30, 2013

Would you look at that. Zach Randolph has decided that offensive rebounding is fun again!

And let it be known that on April 29, 2013, all three underdogs won their respective games.

It shouldn't that much of a shock, really. The Bulls and Nets are about as even as two teams can be, the Hawks had just come off a smackdown of Indiana in Game 3, and the Rockets were facing a Westbrook-less Thunder team that had beaten them by only three points in each of the past two games.

With Brooklyn and Houston surviving, though, it could be the Nuggets who are the next to be eliminated. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies and Clippers fight for a crucial Game 5 that will swing the series odds heavily one way or another. Who are the most likely teams to advance to the next round? As always, we're here to keep you up-to-date.

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, read on below.

Game 5: Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets

Most Likely Result: Golden State Warriors in 6

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Golden State0.00%29.20%33.19%10.78%73.17%

Stat to Know: Golden State Three-Point Percentage

I don't think they can miss. I don't mean that in a sarcastic sense; I mean that in a Bird-MJ-McDonald's-commerical sense. If they did a 2013 playoffs remake with Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack, I'd totally buy it.

I explored yesterday just how bad the Denver guard defense has been, but it's worth mentioning too that Golden State has perfected a strategy that Houston and Milwaukee also wanted to try this offseason to pull upsets: the high variance strategy.

Shooting three-pointers is high-risk, high-reward. If you make your threes, then your opponent is likely going to have to do the same to keep up. Those long-range shots obviously hold a lower percentage of success, however, so the range of potential outcomes from three-point shots is much wider. But as three-point shooting has gotten better, the curve has been skewed so that shooting a higher percentage of threes is successful more than half of the time.

That's why you've seen Golden State shoot threes on 93 of their 330 total shots, a 28 percent proportion that sits as the fifth-highest in the playoffs behind Oklahoma City, New York, Miami, and Milwaukee. But because they have been able to drain those threes at an alarming rate, a .441 3P% that sits .049 better than any other team in the playoffs (Atlanta's No. 2), they have consistently been able to hit the high end of the variance.

That number is bound to come down to earthy eventually, but when coupled with the poor Denver perimeter defense, it may not come this round. Regression to the mean is why Denver still holds a 27 percent chance of winning this series, but Golden State's potential for high shooting numbers is how they're up 3-1 in the first place.

Game 5: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers

Most Likely Result: Los Angeles Clippers in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Los Angeles0.00%0.00%29.17%32.30%61.47%

Stat to Know: Offensive Rebounding Percentage

Just last week, I mentioned how DeAndre Jordan could be the savior of the series for the Clippers. Well, about that...

Jordan grabbed just 11.9 percent of available offensive boards in Game 3 and 7.5 percent of offensive boards in Game 4. As expected aside from Jordan, the Clippers stayed away from the offensive glass like a plague. The rest of the team collected just seven offensive rebounds total in two games, and three of those came from nine minutes of Ryan Hollins in Game 3.

Memphis, meanwhile, realized that actually trying to rebound the ball might be a good idea for their chances. Two straight games collecting at least 36 percent of available offensive rebounds helped get Memphis right back on track after collecting sub-21 percent in their first two games. Zach Randolph was the Big Collector, grabbing 10 combined offensive rebounds over the course of Games 3 and 4. Of course, that wasn't exactly out-of-the-ordinary for Randolph, considering he finished the regular season No. 4 in the NBA at a 13.8 ORB% clip.

So, which will be the true rebound disparity: the Clippers' dominance from Games 1 and 2 or Memphis' control of Games 3 and 4? I tend to say the latter - Memphis finished five spots higher in offensive rebounding percentage (No. 2 to No. 7) and six spots higher in defensive rebounding percentage (No. 9 to No. 15) during the regular season. But as evidenced through the first four games, the team that dominates the boards will likely also dominate the game. If the rebounding battle is close (ala Game 2), then the game will likely stay close as well.