The NBA Playoffs: Where Chicago, Denver and Dallas are in trouble.

There’s one strategy above all else that rules the playoffs:

  • Play your good players a lot.

This seems foolish to say but it is very important. The regular season is a marathon, the playoffs are a sprint. You can’t play for tomorrow, because there might be no tomorrow. A single loss changes your odds so much, that every night you have to bring it. Arturo formalized this in his Half Baked Theory.

With one game in the books we can take a quick glance at how teams are doing at this strategy:

Players with more than 36 minutes in game 1 of the playoffs
Season WP48 Rank Player Team MP
5 Joe Johnson ATL 38
6 Josh Smith ATL 43
1 Rajon Rondo BOS 43
4 Kevin Garnett BOS 40
5 Paul Pierce BOS 42
7 Derrick Rose CHI 37
8 Luol Deng CHI 39
10 Dirk Nowitzki DAL 36
8 Danilo Gallinari DEN 36
1 Paul George IND 37
6 Danny Granger IND 39
1 Chris Paul LAC 38
2 Andrew Bynum LAL 36
7 Kobe Bryant LAL 37
3 Mike Conley MEM 38
5 Marc Gasol MEM 36
1 Serge Ibaka OKC 39
3 Kevin Durant OKC 44
6 Russell Westbrook OKC 38
1 Ryan Anderson ORL 36
6 Jameer Nelson ORL 38
9 Glen Davis ORL 40
1 Andre Iguodala PHI 39
10 Jrue Holiday PHI 36
6 Tony Parker SAS 37
1 Paul Millsap UTA 36
3 Gordon Hayward UTA 37

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference. Player WP48 from the NBA Geek for players over 500 minutes played with team. Injured players excluded.

Playing your best players at least three quarters of the game is pretty much essential in the playoffs. And as Arturo has mentioned, this pretty much limits you to your top six. So going over the first game we can see which teams are playing their best players the most minutes. We notice three teams are lacking in a top six player getting lots of minutes – Chicago, Dallas and Denver. If these teams want to compete, this will have to change. In fact, this gives us a little perspective on the first games.

Chicago probably has Philadelphia outclassed. Losing Rose does hurt. However, when they start encountering teams with a better top six I can’t believe they’ll be competitive.

Dallas was probably lucky to be as close as they were in game one. There was some horrendous play out of OKC’s better players. Sadly the last second shot to steal the game by Durant (and it was theft, make no mistake) was definitely killer to whatever small hope Dallas had.

George Karl is an idiot. For anyone out there that thinks I am mean to him, I want to stress something. He makes more than over half the roster of the Denver Nuggets. His best two players are Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried and he can’t play them when it matters most. The Denver Nuggets and their fans deserve better.

Here’s hoping for fans of those teams that things turn around before game two. Sadly for Denver Nuggets fans, I wouldn’t count on it.


Comments are closed.