How Are the 2020 Denver Nuggets in the Conference Finals?

In soccer, they have a concept called “winning on aggregate.” That is to say, two teams in the playoffs (OK, the “knockout round” in Euro-speak) play one game in each team’s home stadium and treat it like an extended 180-minute game, where most goals win. They have some tiebreakers (and, if necessary, they’ll go to extra time and penalty kicks in the second game), but for the most part, it is in essence a game where halftime is the conclusion of a complete game of soccer. The NBA doesn’t have that. You play a best-of-seven series and it doesn’t matter …

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Sunday Statistical Test: How Much Better Can NBA Offense Get?

The NBA continues to set records for offensive efficiency even as pace continues to quicken. Offensive Rating has risen steadily since the 2012 lockout season, from 104.6 in that ill-fated 66-game crammed session that produced the worst offense since 2004, setting all-time highs in 2017 (108.8), 2019 (110.4), and 2020 (110.6). Likewise, league pace has gone from 91.3 in that lockout season eight years ago to 100.3 in 2020, the fastest the league has played since 1989 (100.6, the last time before the 2018-19 season that league pace exceeded 100 possessions per 48 minutes.) The fastest the league has ever …

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Sunday Statistical Test: Should Hack-A-Shaq Come Back?

The old “Hack-A-Shaq” strategy of fouling a poor free throw shooter to send him to the line whereupon he’d then miss at least one free throw and have to be removed from the game as an offensive liability never made much sense statistically. Unless the player was truly horrid from the line (even Shaq, a career 52.7 percent free throw shooter, would thus generate 105.4 points per 100 possessions before a single one of his free throws went for an offensive rebound and got the Magic, Lakers, or whoever an extended possession and often a putback), the strategy inevitably generated …

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Go Home Will Buikema, You’re Drunk (Reaction to SBNation Piece)

Over on SBNation, Will Buikema put together an amusing piece suggesting that the “ideal” number of points to score in an NBA basketball game is 107, resting his argument on a combination of factors including bathroom breaks for fans watching at home, desired scoring efficiency, and the contrast of these things with the current state of NBA basketball in 2020. Jon Bois chimed in down in the comments, saying he was more of a 94 points kind of guy, resting that argument on nothing but whatever bizarre surrealist pretzel logic underlies his cryptic sense of humor and, apparently, a masochist’s …

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Will Steve Nash Reinvent Former-Player Coaches?

Former NBA players, if they were any good at all during their careers, tend to make terrible NBA coaches. When you look at guys like Byron Scott, Lionel Hollins, and Nate McMillan, you see guys whose understanding of basketball strategy is rooted in the time when they played the game and tends to lag behind more innovative coaches who come from the college ranks or from the ranks of guys who may have played but never played particularly well (look up Pat Riley or Mike D’Antoni on Basketball Reference for an example of the latter.) Which is what makes the …

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Nate McMillan Fired. PRAISE THE GODS.

A couple of weeks ago, the Indiana Pacers gave Nate McMillan a one-year extension on his contract as a coach, which set off a rash of Michael Scott memes, F-bombs, and plaintive repetitions of the word “why” in a desperate tone previously reserved only for Nancy Kerrigan’s Skyrim guard moment at the hands of Tonya Harding’s goons in 1993. Fun coincidence: The 1993-94 season, Nate McMillan led the league in steals despite only starting eight games and made Second Team All-Defensive; McMillan, for his career, is third all-time in steal percentage behind Alvin Robertson and Pacers broadcaster Quinn Buckner. In …

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Why Is Luka Doncic So Good?

One of the oldest arguments in basketball is, when given a player with eye-popping counting stats, “is that guy actually a great player or does he just get stats from getting a ton of touches?” It came up on Twitter again in regards to Luka Doncic, who had 42 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists in the Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Clippers Monday night and yet drew unfavorable comparisons to the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (who had 32 points and 13 rebounds in the Celtics’ win over the 76ers.) Is Luka better or do they just funnel their offense …

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Bernard King: Was He Any Good?

If you grew up in the ’80s and forgot Bernard King existed after his knee injury in 1985 basically wiped out what was left of his career, welcome to my childhood. As is so often the case in this twice-weekly affair, we’re looking at the statistical footprint of a guy who is in the Hall of Fame even though he couldn’t stay on the floor, flashes of former glory (and one magical season with the Bullets in 1991 at age 34 followed by what was essentially a career-ending injury a year later) leaving just enough of that “he was great, …

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Rik Smits: Was He Any Good?

Do the Indiana Pacers just have a team-wide trait, like a fantasy race in a role-playing game, where “centers who protect the rim but can’t rebound worth a lick” are part and parcel of that trait? Because they have Myles Turner today (6.6 rebounds per game for his career), they had Roy Hibbert before (6.3 rpg), and the OG Pacers center who couldn’t rebound is the subject of today’s edition of Was He Any Good, the Dunking Dutchman, all 7-foot-4 and 6.1 rebounds per game of him, Rik Smits. Smits was All-Rookie in 1988-89 after the Pacers drafted him with …

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T.J. Warren: King of the NBA Bubble

T.J. Warren has been an absolute tour de force for the Indiana Pacers as the team has gone 4-1 in five games so far in the NBA’s restart, clinching the tiebreaker against the Philadelphia 76ers with a win to open the eight-game slate at Disney World and knocking off the championship favorite Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. Warren has cooked a 50 burger, dropping 53 points in that Sixers game, and he’s served up the fries and Coke with 34.8 points per game overall and four games with at least 32 points on the board, including 39 in that …

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