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NBA Playoffs Round 2: Four Game 7's in Our Future?

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Why OKC better watch out, how Indiana can beat New York, and other assorted playoff numbers.

Ready for some Game 3 action? According to that ESPN Stats and Info tweet, this is the first time in NBA playoff history that all four teams are tied at 1-1 entering Game 3. So, that means all four of these series are close, right?

Not exactly. According to our oddsmakers, only one underdog has more than a 40 percent chance of pulling the upset, even though all each underdog would have to do is win three of five games. And just as I talked about earlier this week, that team is the Pacers. All four series may be 1-1, but not much has changed.

I wouldn't expect too many late series, either. As it stands, only the Thunder/Grizzlies series has its most likely series length at seven games (and that's by exactly a 0.01 percent margin over six games). If the Thunder and Spurs win, it's most likely to happen in seven, but both of those teams hold at least a 35 percent chance overall of winning in six or less as well.

According to the current odds, there is only a 1.73 percent chance at four Game 7's. The Heat's roughly 53 percent chance of winning in five or six messes that one up the most. But, as has been proven already this playoffs, anything can happen. If you're hoping for four Game 7's, I wouldn't suspend your faith quite yet.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Most Likely Result: Oklahoma City Thunder in 7

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Oklahoma City0.00%15.39%20.43%25.69%61.51%
Memphis0.00%8.34%17.70%12.45%38.49%

What to watch for: Turnover Percentage - The Grizzlies are 15-12 when shooting .442 eFG% or worse, including both Game 2 of the Thunder series and Game 3 of the Clippers series. In order to win despite that poor shooting, though, Memphis needs to dominate other statistical categories - namely turnover percentage and offensive rebounding percentage.

ORB% will be a tough one for OKC to win with Kevin Durant running point and Kendrick Perkins not even close to Zach Randolph's rebounding prowess. But turnover percentage? That's much more manageable. No single OKC player with at least 50 playoff minutes played has a turnover rate over 15 percent this postseason. That makes Game 2's 18.8 percent team turnover rate look like even more of an outlier.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

Most Likely Result: San Antonio Spurs in 7

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
San Antonio0.00%18.43%22.79%25.04%66.26%
Golden State0.00%7.13%14.75%11.86%33.74%

What to watch for: Effective Field Goal Percentage - I've gone on and on about Golden State's shooting so far these playoffs, but San Antonio's effective field goal percentage may be just as interesting. Despite holding a .531 eFG% during the regular season - the second-best mark in the NBA - the Spurs haven't shot above .500 eFG% yet in two games this series.

It's likely not the Warriors defense keeping them down, as Golden State finished just 14th in defensive rating and eighth in defensive effective field goal percentage during the regular season. Instead, the problem seems to be the Spurs' shooting from the guard spots. In six playoff games, Tony Parker's eFG% is down .060 from the regular season. Despite his late Game 1 heroics, Manu Ginobili's is down .034. If the Spurs are to hold off the Warriors, these two will need to play well in more than just the fourth quarter and OT.

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls

Most Likely Result: Miami Heat in 5

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Miami0.00%27.33%25.98%25.30%78.61%
Chicago0.00%3.99%9.85%7.55%21.39%

What to watch for: Offensive Rebounding - Well, that unsustainable Chicago defense from Game 1 sure didn't last. Miami's Game 2 .664 eFG% and 1.30 points per possession simply represents the other end of the spectrum from Game 1; their true mean lies somewhere in the middle. But even the average Miami game is typically enough to beat the Bulls, whose supposedly pathetic Game 2 shooting was actually only .056 eFG% under their season average.

That means the Bulls will need to gain an advantage elsewhere in order to compete. Well, if you have a lower shooting percentage, then why not give yourself more chances with stronger offensive rebounding? The Bulls would seemingly have the advantage in that department - their 29.4 percent ORB% ranked fifth in the NBA regular season, while Miami's 22.2 ORB% sat just 26th. That trend held true in the Game 1 upset where Chicago's ORB% was 10.6 percent higher, but in Game 2, Miami had the advantage by 6.6 percent. If Chicago has any chance at all, offensive rebounding is a must-have.

New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers

Most Likely Result: Indiana Pacers in 6

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
New York0.00%10.05%14.51%22.22%46.78%
Indiana0.00%14.42%23.66%15.14%53.22%

What to watch for: Turnover Percentage - The Knicks are good at taking care of the ball. We know this. They only turned the ball over on 11.1 percent of all regular season possessions, easily the best rate in the NBA. So when they're faced with the NBA's No. 26 team in actually forcing turnovers, it should surprise absolutely nobody that the Knicks have averaged fewer turnovers in a game during this series than Mark Sanchez. (Too soon?)

But that doesn't explain why the Indiana Pacers have to lose the turnover battle so badly. I get that the Pacers were 27th in offensive turnover percentage, but a 14.3 percent rate is actually manageable with their defense and rebounding. Even given the Knicks' fourth-best 14.8 percent defensive turnover rate, keeping the battle close is still an option.

That's what the Pacers did in Game 1, where they lost the turnover battle by only six percent and still rode shooting and rebounding to victory. But Game 2's 22.1 percent turnover rate, 16.1 percent higher than New York's? Despite a manageable eFG% and ORB% margin, nobody's winning with those type of numbers.

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In This Article

Manu Ginobili
GF, San Antonio Spurs

Tony Parker
PG, San Antonio Spurs

Zach Randolph
FC, Memphis Grizzlies

Kevin Durant
F, Oklahoma City Thunder

Kendrick Perkins
C, Oklahoma City Thunder

George Hill
G, Indiana Pacers

LeBron James
F, Miami Heat

D.J. Augustin
PG, Chicago Bulls

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