HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Behind another big game from Tony Parker, the San Antonio Spurs took it to the Los Angeles Clippers, 116-90, in L.A. on Thursday.
The Spurs are now 6-1 on their rodeo trip and 25-4 over the last two months. More important is that they’re an improved defensive team. After ranking 11th in defensive efficiency last season, the Spurs rank third this year, allowing just 98.4 points per 100 possessions.
Also ranking fourth in offensive efficiency, San Antonio is the only team in the top five on both ends of the floor. The Clippers (seventh and seventh), Heat (first and ninth) and Thunder (second and eighth) are the only other teams that rank in the top 10 both offensively and defensively.
Success on both ends of the floor is the the (obvious) key to title contention. Over the last 14 seasons, only two teams that didn’t rank in the top 10 both offensively and defensively won a championship. They were the 2010 Lakers, who ranked 11th offensively and sixth defensively, and the 2004 Pistons, who ranked 18th offensively and second defensively. L.A. was the defending champion and Detroit added Rasheed Wallace at the trade deadline.
But ranking in the top five on both ends isn’t a guarantee of postseason success. Of the last 10 teams to finish on both ends, only two — the 2007 Spurs and 2009 Lakers — won the championship. Two others — the 2007 Mavs and 2012 Bulls — didn’t make it out of the first round.
Last 10 teams, top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency
|2011-12||Chicago||50||16||104.5||5||95.3||1||Lost in first round|
|2010-11||Miami||58||24||109.3||3||100.7||5||Lost in Finals|
|2009-10||Orlando||59||23||109.5||2||100.2||2||Lost in conf. finals|
|2008-09||Cleveland||66||16||109.7||4||99.4||3||Lost in conf. finals|
|2008-09||L.A. Lakers||65||17||109.8||3||101.9||5||Won championship|
|2006-07||Dallas||67||15||108.5||2||100.6||5||Lost in first round|
|2006-07||San Antonio||58||24||106.7||5||97.4||2||Won championship|
|2005-06||Detroit||64||18||107.7||3||100.2||5||Lost in conf. finals|
|2004-05||Miami||59||23||108.2||2||99.8||5||Lost in conf. finals|
|2000-01||San Antonio||58||24||104.7||3||94.9||1||Lost in conf. finals|
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
Here are some more notes from digging through NBA.com/Stats…
The same, but different
The Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies rank No. 1 and No. 2 in defensive efficiency. Offensively, they’re both pretty mediocre, with the Grizz ranking 19th and the Pacers ranking 21st. They’re both in the bottom six in pace, as well. From an overall numbers standpoint, they may be the two most similar teams in the league.
But from quarter to quarter, there’s a big difference between the two teams. The Pacers are the league’s most consistent team from period to period, while the Grizzlies are the most inconsistent.
Indiana is basically mediocre offensively and strong defensively, no matter what part of the game it is.
Pacers efficiency, quarter by quarter
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Memphis, meanwhile, has been much better on both ends of the floor in the second and third quarters…
Grizzlies efficiency, quarter by quarter
The league’s most anemic lineup
The Wizards rank last in offensive efficiency, scoring just 95.3 points per 100 possessions this season. Amazingly, they were much worse than that with Jordan Crawford on the floor. In Crawford’s 1,127 minutes on the floor, Washington scored a brutal 90.7 points per 100 possessions. In his 1,404 minutes on the bench, they scored a somewhat more respectable 99.1.
But that had a lot to do with who Crawford played his minutes with, or rather who he didn’t play his minutes with. Just 113 of those 1,127 minutes (10 percent) were played with John Wall, and just 341 (30 percent) were played with Nene.
The Wizards’ most-used lineup with Crawford on it (the fifth lineup on this list) had him running the point with Bradley Beal and Martell Webster on the wings, along with Chris Singleton and Emeka Okafor up front. It scored an amazingly brutal 67.8 points per 100 possessions in 68 minutes of floor time. No lineup around the league has been nearly as bad offensively.
In case you missed it on Wednesday, we looked at Joe Johnson‘s incredible success in the final minute of close games this season. It’s no surprise that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are the leading scorers in standard clutch time (last five minutes with a point differential of five points or less), but Kevin Garnett at No. 3?