Category Archives: Basketball

Today’s Sportstat: May 2, 2019

The Bucks take their playoff show against the Celtics on the road

With two games in Milwaukee resulting in a split for the Bucks and Boston Celtics, the two teams head to Boston for the next two games. The Bucks will need to do what the Celtics did in their two games in Milwaukee… take a least one of the two games on the road, to regain home court advantage.

Winning on the road is not always an easy path to navigate. From the start of the NBA in 1946-47 through the first two games of this year’s second round playoff contests, road teams are a combined 1,368-2,615, a winning percentage of .343, meaning road teams have won about one-third of the playoff games in league history.

Here are some interesting stats concerning playoff road games and how well the Bucks have performed on the road in the post-season and against the Celtics in Boston.

  • Over the past 19 playoff seasons (2000-18), road teams are 550-1009, a .353 winning percentage, just a tad higher than the career .343 winning percentage of road teams in the playoffs noted above.
  • Since 2000, the Cleveland Cavs have the best road playoff winning percentage at .526. They are followed by the Golden State Warriors at .519. Only five other teams have a winning percentage of .400 or better in road playoff games since 2000: San Antonio, the Lakers, Brooklyn, Miami and Phoenix. The Bucks rank 23rd on the list with a road playoff record of 9-28 (.243) since 2000.
  • The Bucks all-time road playoff record is 43-81 (.347).
  • Since 2015, the Bucks are 4-8 in road playoff games; that includes the two road playoff wins against the Detroit Pistons this season.
  • Milwaukee is only 5-15 (.250) in their last 20 road playoff games.
  • The longest road playoff winning streak for the Bucks is six games… the Bucks accomplished that in 1971-72.
  • The Bucks have lost 12 of the last 13 road games in Boston against the Celtics.
  • The last road playoff win for the Bucks versus the Celtics was on May 13, 1987, a 129-124 victory in the Boston Garden.
  • Milwaukee is 5-13 all-time versus the Celtics in playoff games played in Boston.
  • The Bucks won one road playoff game against the Celts in 1987, two in 1983 and two in 1974.
  • The Bucks have won eight of the last 20 regular season games against the Celtics in Boston. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Bucks are 7-6 versus the Celtics in away games played in Boston.

What does all this mean? If the series goes to seven games, the Bucks will have to win at least one game of the three remaining in Boston and win both remaining games in Milwaukee to win the series. A win for the Bucks in Boston in either game Three or Game Four is crucial. A pair of losses in Boston would force the Bucks to win the final three games of the series, a formidable task.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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Today’s Sportstat: April 29, 2019

 

Cinderella doesn’t always get invited to NBA Finals

One of the endearing aspects of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is that almost every year a Cinderella team or two finds its way into the later rounds. We love it when a low seed makes a run at the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, or beyond.

Cinderella, however, doesn’t seem to make many appearances in the NBA Finals. Now that the first round of this year’s NBA playoffs are complete, we see that all of the higher seeds defeated their lower seed opponents in the first round. Despite the seventh-seeded San Antonio Spurs taking the Denver Nuggets to a deciding Game Seven, the #1, #2, #3 and #4 seeds in each conference won their first round series against the #5, #6, #7 and 8 seeds.

With two rounds to go before the NBA Finals, the question becomes: Which seeds will we likely see in the NBA Finals?

To answer that, let’s take a look at the last 20 years of the NBA Finals (1999-2018). Last season the Western Conference #2 seed Golden State Warriors defeated the Eastern Conference #4 seed Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals. It was the first year since 2012 that a #1 seed was not in the NBA Finals.

Here’s a few interesting stats concerning the seeds in the NBA Finals over the past 20 seasons:

  • Sixteen of the last 40 teams (40%) in the NBA Finals were a #1 seed. Fifteen were a #2 seed; five were a #3 seed; three were a #4 seed, and there was one #8 seed (the New York Knicks in 1999).
  • Ten of the last 20 Western Conference teams in the NBA Finals were a #1 seed (six of the Eastern Conference teams in the NBA Finals were a #1 seed).
  • Thirty-six of the last 40 teams in the NBA Finals (90%) were either a #1, #2 or #3 seed.
  • In the last seven NBA Finals, there has been only one team lower than a #2 seed in the finals… that was the Cavs last season as a #4 seed.
  • In the last 20 NBA Finals, only three times was there a matchup of two #1 seeds… in 2016, 2008 and 2000.
  • There were no #1 seeds in the finals in seven seasons since 1999… 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2018.
  • Thirty-one of the last 40 NBA Finals teams (77.5%) were either a #1 or #2 seed

So what does all this mean? Well, there’s a good chance that the #1 or #2 seeds this year (#1 seeds Milwaukee and Golden State, and #2 seeds Toronto and Denver) could find their way into the NBA Finals this season. Only three #4 seeds have been in the NBA Finals in the last 20 years, but this year’s #4 seeds, Boston and Houston, are particularly strong #4’s this season and could easily crash the NBA Finals party this season.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: April 18, 2019

A look at the last 10 years of NBA first-round matchups

This year’s NBA playoffs have begun and each of the eight first-round series has seen two games played. The Bucks, Celtics, Rockets and Trailblazers each have a 2-0 lead in their series while the other four first-round matchups are tied at one game apiece.

So how long will each of these series go? How many will be a four-game sweep? Will there be any first-round series that go to a deciding seventh game?

To answer those questions, let’s look at the last 10 years of first-round series in the NBA (2009-2018). There have been 80 first-round series played in the past 10 seasons (four first-round series in each of the two conferences each year).

Following is a chart of how many games each of the series went over these past 10 seasons. It is broken down by the seeded series matchups (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5).

 

  4-game series 5-game series 6-game series 7-game series
1 vs. 8 6 5 7 2
2 vs. 7 7 5 4 4
3 vs. 6 2 5 7 6
4 vs. 5 1 4 10 5
Total 16 19 28 17

 

As you can tell, 28 of the 80 first-round series (35%) in the past 10 years went six games, the most of the four potential series lengths. The fewest were a four-game sweep which happened in only 16 of the 80 series (20%).

Other highlights from the above chart:

  • The most common length of a series was 4 vs. 5 going six games. That happened 10 times in the first round in the last 10 years.
  • The most seven-game series occurred in the 3 vs. 6 series; it happened six times in the last 10 years.
  • The most four-game sweeps happened in the 3 vs. 6 matchup. It happened seven times.
  • Forty-five of the 80 first-round series in the past 10 years went either six or seven games.
  • Surprisingly, the 1 vs. 8 first-round series the past decade went six games seven times and even went the full seven games twice.
  • The 2 vs. 7 series had seven four-game sweeps; the 1 vs. 8 series had six four-game sweeps. You would think the 1 vs. 8 matchup would have more four-game sweeps than any matchup.
  • In the last two seasons, the first-round series went four games three times, five games four times, six games six times, and seven games three times.

If history is any indication, there might be one or two first-round series that end in a four-game sweep. More likely, however, is that the majority of these eight first-round series will see a Game Six or Game Seven.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: April 15, 2019

The Greek Freak, The Brodie and The Joker join exclusive clubs

In addition to sharing some interesting, colorful nicknames, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic each put up some impressive numbers in the 2018-19 NBA season. So impressive, that their stats from this past season have rarely been seen in league history.

Let’s start with Giannis, The Greek Freak. He became the ninth player in NBA history to finish a season averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. His season totals were 27.7 points per game, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per contest.

Here are the nine players with 25-10-5 seasons in league history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mil., 2018-19… 27.7, 12.5, 5.9

DeMarcus Cousins, N.O., 2017-18… 25.2, 12.9, 5.4

Russell Westbrook, OKC, 2017-18… 25.4, 10.1, 10.3
Russell Westbrook, OKC, 2016-17… 31.6, 10.7, 10.4

Charles Barkley, Phoe., 1992-93… 25.6, 12.2, 5.1

Larry Bird, Bost., 1984-85… 28.7, 10.5, 6.6

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers, 1975-76… 27.7, 16.9, 5.0

Wilt Chamberlain, Phil., 1965-66… 33.5, 24.6, 5.2
Wilt Chamberlain, S.F., 1963-64… 36.9, 22.3, 5.0

Oscar Robertson, Cin., 1962-63… 28.3, 10.4, 9.5
Oscar Robertson, Cin., 1961-62… 30.8, 12.5, 11.4
Oscar Robertson, Cin., 1960-61… 30.5, 10.1, 9.7

Elgin Baylor, L.A. Lakers, 1960-61… 34.8, 19.8, 5.1

It’s interesting to note that six of the nine players on this list are currently in the Hall of Fame, while the other three, Giannis, Cousins and Westbrook are still active.

Speaking of Westbrook, The Brodie, he had his third straight season with a triple-double in scoring, rebounds and assists. He finished the 2018-19 campaign averaging 22.9 points per games, 11.1 rebounds per game, and 10.7 assists per game. He is now tied with Oscar Robertson with the most triple-double seasons with three.

If we drop the numbers just a bit, The Joker, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, had a historic season. He finished this past season with 20.1 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per contest, and 7.3 assists per game. He became only the fourth NBA player in history to end the season with a 20-10-7 stat line. The others: Westbrook with three 20-10-7 seasons, Oscar Robertson also with three such seasons, and Wilt Chamberlain with two 20-10-7 seasons.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 28, 2019

Will having the best record in the NBA help the Greek Freak’s MVP chances?

My esteemed colleague Gery Woelfel recently penned an article where he opined that Houston Rockets guard James Harden would be selected as the 2018-19 NBA MVP at the end of the season. Gery made several solid points in his argument for Harden’s MVP candidacy including his outrageous league-leading points per game average (over 36 points per game) and his improved defensive stats. He admitted that the MVP Award race was basically a two-player race with Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

In discussing his article with him, I told Gery that my only pushback on his opinion was that league MVP voters seem to have a history of voting for a player from the team that ends the season with the most wins/best record. Gery concurred and added that it would be nice if we could find out just how often that has happened in past seasons.

“If only we knew someone who could do the research and run the numbers to see how many MVPs came from teams that had the most wins in a season.”

Well, I just happen to know someone who can get us that info…

Over the past 20 NBA seasons, 12 of those 20 MVPs selected came from a team that had the most (or tied for the most) wins in that season. Ten of the 12 had the best record outright, while two MVPs played for teams that tied for the most wins that season.

Ironically, Harden was a benefactor just last season; he was voted the league MVP for 2017-18 and his Houston Rockets had the most wins last season. Here are the 12 MVPs since the 1998-99 season that played for a team that had the most wins.

2018-James Harden, Houston
2016-Steph Curry, Golden State
2015-Steph Curry, Golden State
2013-LeBron James, Miami
2011-Derrick Rose, Chicago
2010-LeBron James, Cleveland
2009-LeBron James, Cleveland
2007-Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
2005-Steve Nash, Phoenix
2003-Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2000-Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
1999-Karl Malone, Utah

Duncan in 2003 and Malone in 1999 played for teams that tied for the most wins in the league that season.

Of the eight MVPs who did not play for the team that won the most games that season, half of them (four players) played for a team that finished with the second most (or tied for the second most wins) in the league that year. Those eight:

2017-Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (10th most wins in the NBA that season

2014-Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (2nd most wins in the NBA that season)

2012-LeBron James, Miami (4th most wins in the NBA that season)

2008-Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (3rd most wins in the NBA that season)

2006-Steve Nash, Phoenix (4th most wins in the NBA that season)

2004-Kevin Garnett, Minnesota (2nd most wins in the NBA that season)

2002-Tim Duncan, San Antonio (tied for the 2nd most wins in the NBA that season)

2001-Allen Iverson, Philadelphia (tied for the 2nd most wins in the NBA that season)

So, who will the voters choose? If the Bucks end the season with the most wins in the league, is that enough to propel Giannis to the MVP?

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp