By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Oklahoma City Thunder rank first in postseason defensive efficiency, having allowed the Memphis Grizzlies to score just 99.1 points per 100 possessions. But the Grizzlies were the worst offensive team among Western Conference playoff teams. The 99.1 points per 100 possessions they’ve scored through five games is 4.2 fewer than they scored in the regular season.
The Thunder’s efficiency, meanwhile, has dropped off twice as much, making it clear that the Grizzlies have been the better defensive team in the series.
Biggest drop-off, regular season to playoff OffRtg
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
Using the same method, the Clippers have been the best offensive team in the playoffs, scoring 12.0 more points per 100 possessions (111.9) than the Warriors allowed in the regular season (99.9).
The Thunder have also had the biggest change in pace from the regular season. At 90.5 possessions per team per 48 minutes, the series has been played even slower than the Grizzlies’ pace of 92.2, which was the slowest in the regular season.
A look at OKC’s offensive numbers show that it’s all about the shooting. They’ve gone to the line a little less frequently than they did in the regular season, but they’ve rebounded better and turned the ball over less.
And SportVU helps us understand why their shooting numbers have suffered so much. Only 49 percent of the Thunder’s jump shots have been uncontested, down from 63 percent in the regular season. The other 15 teams have been uncontested on 67 percent of their jump shots.
Biggest drop-off, percentage of jump shots uncontested
Jump shot = FGA from outside 10 feet
Uncontested = Where a defender is not within four feet of the shooter.
According to SportVU, Kevin Durant (64 of his 89 total jumpers) has taken 20 more contested jumpers than any other player in the postseason. Next on the list is Russell Westbrook (44 of his 81).
Scott Brooks needs to find a way to get his star more open, but credit the Memphis defense, which has been far better than any other D in the playoffs so far, and which can put the Grizzlies into the conference semifinals with a win in Game 6 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TNT).