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NBA Playoff Primer: May 1, 2013

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Does no Westbrook mean Houston's shooting percentage should stay up? Not so fast, my friend.

You may remember from way back two or three days ago how the Celtics, Hawks, and Rockets pulled some massive upsets in Game 4 on their home floors. And what to do to their series victory odds? Increased them by... three percent, 15 percent, and two percent, respectively. Those were exactly series-changing numbers, there.

The numbers say New York, Oklahoma City, and yes, even Indiana are still heavy favorites heading into Game 5 of their respective series. Just how much of a chance do they have of falling? Our odds say New York and Oklahoma City are essentially assured, while Indiana isn't as bad off as you'd think.

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, check out below.

Game 5: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks

Most Likely Result: New York Knicks in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
New York0.00%67.80%16.09%10.86%94.75%
Boston0.00%0.00%0.00%5.75%5.75%

Stat to Know: Boston's Offensive Rating

I wrote about New York's shooting ability earlier today, but what about Boston's own efficiency? Their .500 effective field goal percentage (eFG%) from Game 4 was actually their highest of the series. Otherwise, they've had the offensive strength of a dried-out grapefruit.

Looking at their total offensive efficiency, Boston has not hit one point per possession in any of their four games so far this series. Even Game 4, that supposedly-strong Celtics rebirth, only ended with Boston scoring .993 points per possession. (It just looked like a miracle run in comparison to the first three games.) New York, meanwhile, surpassed one point per possession in Games 2 and 3 and got very close in Game 1 as well.

If Boston's going to beat New York, it's likely that they will have to score even more efficiently than they have so far. But the stats say that might be an issue; Boston isn't exactly the strongest offensive team. Their overall offensive rating, or points per 100 possessions, sat at just 103.7 this season. That's good for only No. 23 in the entire NBA.

During the regular season, the Celtics reached one point per possession just twice in two games against New York - 1.23 PPP in a January 7 win (their only one against New York until Game 4) and 1.06 PPP in a March 31 loss. In addition to keeping the Knicks' scoring down, it's likely they will need to have a repeat of one of those two performances to have any chance of winning. It's just not likely.

Game 5: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers

Most Likely Result: Indiana Pacers in 7

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Indiana0.00%0.00%31.14%33.65%64.79%
Atlanta0.00%0.00%17.35%17.86%35.21%

Stat to Know: Indiana Turnover Percentage

This time, I won't be saying that the Pacers have no chance of shooting that poorly again. In fact, they have a 21 percent chance of doing just that. Just as interesting of a question to me, though, is whether the ball handling will stick around as well.

It's tough to seem wreckless when your offense's pace would give Manti Teo's 40 time a run for its money, but the Pacers somehow managed. Their 14.3 percent turnover rate ranked 27th during the regular season, and their 26th-ranked defensive turnover rate didn't exactly do much to get those possessions back.

However, in the playoffs, we have mostly seen a different Pacers teams. In Games 1, 2, and 4, the Pacers turned the ball over a full percentage point less than their regular season average. Especially considering the Hawks finished the year at No. 10 themselves with a 14.2 percent defensive turnover rate, that's pretty impressive.

The bench has been crucial to this transformation - D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, and Ian Mahinmi have all turned the ball over on seven percent fewer possessions than they did during the regular season. With the starters hanging right around their normal turnover rates, the Pacers have gained an edge in turnovers in three of the four games.

But when it's bad, it's awful. The Pacers turned the ball over on nearly 20 percent of possessions in Game 3, highlighted by George Hill's 25.3 percent turnover rate. If the Pacers have another turnover fest that bad, it may not matter how well they shoot: the Hawks will have an easy advantage to exploit.

Game 5: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

Most Likely Result: Oklahoma City Thunder in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Oklahoma City0.00%69.84%16.12%9.91%95.87%
Houston0.00%0.00%0.00%4.13%4.13%

Stat to Know: Houston Effective Field Goal Percentage

In Game 4, Houston and Oklahoma City were close in just about every single conceivable category. Houston had a slight lead in rebounding percentage, but Oklahoma City had a slight lead in free-throw factor. And when all was said and done, Houston had just enough of an edge to barely come out on top.

That's all well and good. But Oklahoma City should not have let Houston shoot their way anywhere near OKC's own .563 eFG%.

At a .566 eFG%, Houston managed a performance that broke the top quarter of total effective field goal percentages from the Rockets this season. Their hot shooting isn't exactly a surprise - they finished the regular season at a .525 eFG% average, fifth-best in the league. Oklahoma City's defense, however, was a major let-down.

The Thunder finished the regular season allowing opponents to shoot only .469 eFG% from the field, second-best among all NBA teams. That certainly seemed to be the trend the first two games, as Houston shot .407 and .451 eFG%, respectively. Without Russell Westbrook, though, the Rockets have managed two straight games above the .500 eFG% mark.

According to 82games.com, though, that increase in shooting percentage could soon regress to the mean. The Thunder held opponents to the same exact eFG% with him off the court than with him on: .469 eFG%. And due to a more defensive mindset without Westbrook on the court, opponents scored 1.6 fewer points per 100 possessions with him off the court, even if the Thunder also scored seven fewer points themselves.

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In This Article

Ian Mahinmi
C, Indiana Pacers

James Harden
GF, Houston Rockets

Jeremy Lin
G, Houston Rockets

Paul Pierce
F, Brooklyn Nets

D.J. Augustin
PG, Chicago Bulls

Russell Westbrook
PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

Gerald Green
GF, Phoenix Suns

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