Tag Archives: NBA

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.

 

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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.

 

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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?

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Today’s Sportstat: February 28, 2019

Bucks and Budenholzer have a 60-win season in their sights

With a league-best 47-14 record and 21 games left to play in the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks have a legitimate chance to win 60 games in a season for only the fifth time in franchise history. The Bucks won 60 or more in 1970-71 (66 wins), 1971-72 (63 wins), 1972-73 (60 wins) and in 1980-81 (60 wins). To reach the 60-win milestone this season, the Bucks would have to win at least 13 of their remaining 21 games.

Getting 60 wins this season would also be a big deal for Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. Back in 2014-15, Coach Bud won 60 games in his second season at the helm of the Atlanta Hawks. A 60-win season with the Bucks would make Budenholzer only the seventh coach in NBA history to win 60 or more games in a season with two or more different franchises.

Hall of Famer coach Pat Riley holds the league record with 60-win seasons with three different franchises. He won 60 with the Lakers, Miami and the Knicks.

Here is a look at the six coaches who have won 60 or more games in a season with two or more franchises.

K.C. Jones: Boston (1984, 1985, 1986)… Washington (1975)

Phil Jackson: Chicago (1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998)… L.A. Lakers (2000, 2009)

Don Nelson: Dallas (2003)… Milwaukee (1981)

Mike D’Antoni: Houston (2018), Phoenix (2005, 2007)

Pat Riley: (L.A. Lakers (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990)… Miami (1997)… N.Y. Knicks (1993)

Rick Adelman: Portland (1991)… Sacramento (2002)

A total of 32 NBA coaches have won 60 or more games in a season with at least one team. If Budenholzer can add a second 60-win season with the Bucks to his resume, it would make him the 21st coach in NBA history to have multiple 60-win seasons in a career.

The 20 NBA coaches who have won 60 or more games in two or more seasons are: Rick Adelman, Red Auerbach, Mike Brown, Larry Costello, Billy Cunningham, Mike D’Antoni, Bill Fitch, Alex Hannum, Tom Heinsohn, Phil Jackson, Avery Johnson, K.C. Jones, George Karl, Steve Kerr, Don Nelson, Greg Popovich, Pat Riley, Doc Rivers, Bill Sharman, Jerry Sloan.

For the record, there have four head coaches who have won 60 or more games in four different seasons; Phil Jackson and Pat Riley did it seven times, Greg Popovich has done is six times, and K.C. Jones did it four times.

 

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Today’s Sports Stat: February 9, 2019

Scorers make up the bulk of All-Star Game selections

If you need any proof that players who score a lot of points find a way onto an NBA All-Star Game roster, consider this: Of the 31 players who are currently (through games of February 8) averaging 20 or more points per game this season, 20 of them are on one of the two NBA All-Star Game rosters.

Of the 11 players who are averaging 20+ points per game that did not make the All-Star Game rosters this season, Devin Booker leads the way with a 24.9 points per game average this season. He is tied for 12th in the league’s scoring race.

There are six players who made this year’s All-Star Game who have a scoring average less than 20 points per game: Dwyane Wade (14.0) and Ben Simmons (17.0) from Team LeBron; and Kyle Lowry (14.2), Khris Middleton (17.3), Dirk Nowitzki (4.4) and D’Angelo Russell (19.8) from Team Giannis. For the record, Wade and Nowitzki were added to this year’s roster by Commissioner Adam Silver as special roster additions.

There have been 15 players who played in an NBA All-Star Game who ended the season with a scoring average of 10 points or less. The last player in this category was back in the 2005-06 season when Ben Wallace played in the All-Star Game that year and ended the season with a 7.3 per game scoring average. Wallace made an NBA All-Star Game roster four straight seasons (2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06) with a season-ending points per game average under 10 points per game. (Of course, savvy NBA fans will know that Wallace’s main contribution during his career was rebounding and defense.)

Here are the players who made an All-Star Game roster in a season when their season-ending scoring average was 10 points or less that year.

7 seasons: Dick McGuire
4 seasons: Ben Wallace
2 seasons: Slater Martin, Dennis Rodman
1 season: Don Buse, James Donaldson, Mark Eaton, Bill Gabor, Tom Gola, Bob Harrison, Dikembe Mutumbo, Andy Phillip, Richie Regan, Bill Russell, Wes Unseld.

There have been seven players who ended an NBA season with a per-game scoring average above 27 points per game who did not make the All-Star Game that season. They are:

Adrian Dantley, 1982-83, 30.7 points per game
Bob Rule, 1970-71, 29.8
World B. Free, 1978-79, 28.8
Tiny Archibald, 1971-72, 28.2
Purvis Short, 1984-85, 28.0
Dominique Wilkins, 1984-85, 27.4
Wilt Chamberlain, 1969-70, 27.3

There have also been 25 players who averaged 25 or more points per game in a season that did not make an NBA All-Star Game roster that season. Three players, Damian Lillard, Michael Redd and Purvis Short have had it happen to them twice in their careers.

Here’s one more stat: Noted above is that 20 of the 31 players averaging 20 or more points per game this season made an All-Star Game squad (64.5%). Of the 17 players averaging 10 or more rebounds per game this season, seven (41%) made the All-Star game; of the 14 players averaging seven or more assists per game, seven (50%) made the All-Star Game; of the 15 players averaging 1.6 or more steals per game, six (40%) made the All-Star Game; and, of the 14 players who are averaging 1.5 or more blocks per game, only three (21%) made an All-Star game roster.

Yes, the numbers show us… putting the ball in the basket is the key for finding a way onto an NBA All-Star Game roster.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp