1. San Antonio Spurs
In San Antonio’s Game 1 victory, Gregg Popovich relied on more lineups containing Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. In their 24 minutes together, the Spurs outscored Oklahoma City by 14 points. In that same span, Oklahoma City shot 34.2% from the field.
Kevin Durant didn’t convert on either of his two field goal attempts in the final frame, primarily because of Stephen Jackson’s tenacious defense. Oklahoma City can’t expect to win many games against San Antonio with Durant missing more than half of his shots.
3. Miami Heat
Somehow LeBron James has managed to outperform even his own lofty standards. James is averaging 29.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists per game and a 32.7 PER (prior to Monday’s game against Boston) in 12 playoff games. According to NBA.com/Stats, James’ prescence is the equivalent of 13 extra points per 100 possessions or, in other words, nearly six more points than San Antonio’s margin of victory during the regular season.
Boston against Miami with Rondo on the floor: +14.1 points per 100 possessions
Boston against Miami without Rondo: +1.6 points per 100 possessions
The bad news: They are no longer in the playoffs. The good news: They will have a lot of cap space (upwards of $25 million) and their entire core that gave Miami some fits will return.
Lob City has a legitimate pick-and-roll attack — they scored 0.90 points per possession on pick-and-rolls for the season, fourth in the league — and that is without a whole lot of offensive imagination. Imagine the potential of their offense if they added more diversity and movement away from the ball.
Amnesty Kobe? (For Los Angeles’ sake, they shouldn’t.)
Seven playoff wins isn’t too bad for a team that can barely claim that they play offense.
Memphis ran a pick-and-roll 17.8% of their possessions, their most extensively utilized possession type, yet they finished 30th in PPP on pick-and-rolls.
10. Denver Nuggets
I’m still a little disappointed that we were robbed of an exhilarating Thunder-Nuggets series.
11. Atlanta Hawks
Josh Smith led the team with a +13.1 APM in 1,791.87 minutes this season.
12. Chicago Bulls
When Derrick Rose returns, the Bulls will be a force. Until then, basketball fans can only point to Chicago’s Rose-Brewer-Deng-Boozer-Noah lineup and their 96.0 defensive rating in 290 minutes, shake their heads and imagine what could have been.
13. Dallas Mavericks
Judging by win shares, the Dallas Mavericks would gain 1.4 wins with Deron Williams instead of Jason Kidd. Rather arbitrary methodology, admittedly.
14. New York Knicks
More Carmelo at the 4! 19% of his minutes came as the power forward this season and Anthony absolutely dominated his bulkier, less agile opponents. He posted a LeBron-like 29.7 PER while averaging 39 points and 9.6 rebounds per 48 minutes.
15. Utah Jazz
I prefer their situation to Orlando’s because their situation is far less volatile — they aren’t held hostage by their best player — and they have room to grow. They succeeded in a rigorous conference despite receiving below-average production from the PG, SG and SF positions.
16. Orlando Magic
Purely subjective move here. I moved them behind Utah because of the inner turmoil among in their front office and the looming Dwight Howard Saga (Part II). Losing one of the premier coaches in the league certainly doesn’t help matters.