Blogtable: Staff Predictions – Playoff Edition

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

–Who will be the last two teams standing in the East?  In the West?  And who is your pick to win it all?

VIDEO: The Hawks and Warriors dominated their respective conferences during regular season. Can they duplicate that in the postseason.

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com:

Predictions

East finals: Cavaliers over Hawks.

West finals: Spurs over Warriors.

NBA Finals: Spurs over Cavaliers.

Comment: I’ve had Cleveland reaching The Finals since before the season began. Why? Mostly because of LeBron James in his prime. The Cavs’ rise from 19-20 was merely what a lot of us predicted, learning-curve stuff. Cleveland’s trades fixed flaws, LeBron’s sabbatical got him recommitted and now, the Cavs’ stars provide multiple go-to guys vs. a solid Hawks team that will be playing in rare air. Out West, the Warriors have been magnificent but I learned my lesson counting out the Spurs a long time ago. I do expect LeBron’s team to double- and triple-check the air conditioning this time.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com

Predictions

East finals: Cavaliers over Hawks.

West finals: Warriors over Rockets.

NBA Finals: Warriors over Cavaliers.

Comment: It’s amazing how one night, one game can change everything.  The Pelicans beat the Spurs and changed my entire outlook for the playoffs.  Put the Spurs into the No. 2 seed and I thought  the defending champs would be able to finally go back-to-back.  But plain and simple, not out of the No. 6 slot.  Coincidentally, it did happen 20 years ago when the Rockets shocked everyone in 1995.  But they had Hakeem Olajuwon at the peak of his powers.  It’s too tough a road for the Spurs without home court in every round.  With that in mind, I’m going with Golden State and Houston in the Western Conference finals and the Warriors winning.  The top two teams in the East all season have been the Cavaliers and Hawks and there’s no reason to think they won’t meet in the conference finals.  I’ve got the Cavs winning that one to send LeBron James to The Finals for a fifth straight year. But more frustration, another loss.  Warriors win it all in 6.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com:  

Predictions: 

East finals: Cavaliers over Hawks.

West finals: Warriors over Spurs.

NBA Finals: Warriors over Cavaliers.

Comment: I could stay with my preseason pick — Chicago over San Antonio — and still be in a pretty good place. But if you’re asking for an updated perspective, it’s hard to re-invest in the Bulls with the skyrocketing health-insurance premiums, and I thought the Warriors would have a good regular season but not close to magical. So, I’ll say Cleveland over Atlanta in the East, Golden State over San Antonio in the West and Warriors over Cavaliers for the championship as “close to magical” becomes actually magical. It comes down to Golden State being able to win many different ways, in tempo or either side of the ball. And if it is Warriors-Cavs in the Finals, no team is more able to throw obstacles at LeBron James than the Dubs with multiple standout defenders.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com:

Predictions:

East finals: Cavaliers over Hawks.

West finals: Warriors over Clippers.

NBA finals: Warriors over Cavaliers.

Comment:  The Cavs and Hawks are the safest picks in the East, which says more about the East. I’m not feeling either team as a heavyweight but the Cavs have LeBron James who is a difference-maker in a close series. Thinking Cavs in 6. The Clippers and Chris Paul have too much to navigate in the West. Really, they must beat the Spurs and then Harden and then Curry?. OK, I’ll give them the first two because Paul wants to wipe the post-season stench from the past off his resume. But the Warriors will lap them. Thinking Warriors in 5. The NBA Finals will show that this is the Warriors’ year. Too much firepower, too much Splash, too much momentum for the Cavs. I believe deep down, LeBron felt he’d need two years to win a title in Cleveland. He’s right. Thinking Warriors in 5.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com

Predictions

East finals: Hawks over Cavaliers.

West finals: Warriors over Spurs.

NBA finals: Warriors over Hawks.

Comment: I’ll take the Hawks over the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals, with their last regular season meeting – where Cleveland’s improved defense still couldn’t handle the Atlanta offense – in mind. I’ll go with the Warriors over the Spurs in the Western Conference finals, a series where home-court advantage could really play a big role. And I’ll take the Warriors over the Hawks in The Finals. The numbers say that the Dubs are one of the best teams we’ve seen in the last 30 years – they were a plus-9.8 points per 100 possessions in games played between teams that finished with winning records, while no other team in the group was better than plus-2.4 – and I’m not one to argue with the numbers.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com

Predictions

East finals: Hawks over Cavaliers.

West finals: Warriors over Clippers.

NBA Finals: Warriors over Hawks.

Comment: The Hawks and Cavaliers on a collision course in the East. They’ve been the best two teams in the Eastern Conference, early on and through All-Star Weekend for the Hawks and since then for the Cavaliers. And while LeBron James has the playoff experience and superstar power on his side, the Hawks have the chemistry and championship blueprint (courtesy of that Spurs-lite stuff) on their side. I know everyone assumes that LeBron on your roster equals an instant trip to The Finals, but I’m not sold on the playoff rookies in Cleveland (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in particular). So I’m going with the Hawks over the Cavaliers in an epic Eastern Conference finals, stretching all the way to seven games.

The Warriors are the easy and logical pick to face the Clippers in the West. The Warriors are on a championship or bust ride. There are no guarantees, of course. But the Warriors are loaded at every position, have a coach with championship DNA coursing through his veins and whatever playoff experience they lack as a group they will accrue on their way to The Finals. People are counting the Clippers out already in their first round matchup against the Spurs. But this is the year Chris Paul leads the Clippers deep into the playoff waters, where they’ll face off against their rivals from NoCal in the California civil war. The north prevails here again behind the MVP, Steph Curry, and his Splash Bros counterpart Klay Thompson.

 The Warriors and Hawks square off in an entertaining series that treats fans who haven’t tasted the sweet smell of The Finals in decades (in Golden State, and ever in Atlanta. The Hawks won an NBA title in 1958 as the St. Louis franchise ). It’s also a matchup of the two best teams from the regular season, a dream matchup for fans of the space and pace movement. In the end, the Warriors depth and that raucous home court advantage at Oracle is too much for the Hawks. Warriors in 7.

 Ian Thomsen, NBA.com

Predictions

East finals: Bulls over Hawks.

West finals: Warriors over Clippers.

NBA Finals: Bulls over Warriors.

Comment: I feel insane, actually, for picking a team so troubled with injuries. But the Bulls’ main players are now ready to go and their roster is brimming with deep playoff experience. Their defining series will come in the second round against Cleveland, when the Bulls will reestablish their defensive willpower while Rose finds his role. The Clippers will “upset” the Spurs and provide a hard challenge to Golden State, but nothing can prepare the Warriors for the defensive intensity of an NBA Finals against Chicago.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog

Predictions

East finals: Hawks over Cavaliers.

West finals: Spurs over Warriors.

NBA Finals: Spurs over Hawks.

Comment: In the East, I’m going with the Hawks and Cavs to emerge. I think Chicago will give Cleveland a run in the semis, but Atlanta and Cleveland will emerge as victors, with the Hawks continuing their regular season success against Cleveland and coming out of the East. And in the West, The Warriors will continue to roll and meet the Spurs in the Conference Finals, where the Spurs will teach the Warriors an old man lesson and defeat Golden State. In the Finals, Pop and Bud will meet, but the student will not be able to defeat the master, and the Spurs will finally get repeat titles. (And I am definitely not trying to jinx the Spurs if the play the Hawks in the Finals, either.)

For more debates, go to #AmexNBA or www.nba.com/homecourtadvantage.

Numbers preview: Clippers-Spurs


VIDEO: West Series Preview: Clippers – Spurs

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — This just isn’t fair. The Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs were the league’s second and third best teams according to point differential (whether you want go by raw plus-minus or pace-adjusted numbers). And one of them won’t be going to conference semifinals.

The Clippers had the No. 1 offense in the league, despite a 15-game absence from Blake Griffin, and won 14 of their last 15 games. The Spurs are one of only three teams that ranked in the top seven in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and went 21-4 after Feb. 25.

But that 21-4 run only pushed the Spurs from seventh to sixth in the Western Conference. Their loss on the last day of the season put them in this matchup, which may be worse news for the Clippers than anybody else.

The good news is that these two teams are on the opposite side of the bracket from Golden State. So a potential Warriors-Spurs showdown or Warriors-Clippers slobberknocker is in line for the conference finals.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Clippers-Spurs, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Los Angeles Clippers (56-26)

Pace: 97.0 (11)
OffRtg: 109.8 (1)
DefRtg: 103.0 (15)
NetRtg: +6.9 (2)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. San Antonio: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Clippers notes:

20150417_on-off

San Antonio Spurs (55-27)

Pace: 95.9 (17)
OffRtg: 106.2 (7)
DefRtg: 99.6 (3)
NetRtg: +6.6 (3)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Clippers: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Spurs notes:

The matchup

Season series: Tied 2-2 (1-1 at each location).
Pace: 98.0
LAC OffRtg: 109.8 (1st vs. SAS)
SAS OffRtg: 104.8 (12th vs. LAC)

Matchup notes:

Numbers preview: Blazers-Grizzlies


VIDEO: West Series Preview: Grizzlies – Blazers

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers are two teams that looked like legit contenders at one point or another this season.

The Grizzlies held the second best record in the Western Conference and third best mark in the NBA for most of the year. The Blazers had a top-five defense through March 15 and were one of a few select teams that ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

But both teams suffered injuries late in the season that derailed their quest for the 2 or 3 seed. Portland lost Wesley Matthews for the season to a torn Achilles on March 5. Memphis was without Tony Allen (calf strain) for its last nine games and also dealt with foot and ankle injuries to Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.

Appropriately, these two teams have found each other in the 4-5 matchup. Portland is the 4 seed because it won the Northwest Division, but Memphis will have home-court advantage (Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 at the FedEx Forum) because it finished with a better record.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Grizzlies-Blazers, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Portland Trail Blazers (51-31)

Pace: 96.5 (13)
OffRtg: 105.5 (8)
DefRtg: 101.4 (10)
NetRtg: +4.2 (5)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Memphis: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Blazers notes:

Memphis Grizzlies (55-27)

Pace: 94.2 (26)
OffRtg: 103.1 (13)
DefRtg: 99.9 (4)
NetRtg: +3.1 (11)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Portland: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Grizzlies notes:

The matchup

Season series: Grizzlies won 4-0.
Pace: 94.5
POR OffRtg: 98.6 (18th vs. MEM)
MEM OffRtg: 108.8 (4th vs. POR)

Matchup notes:

New replay center reduces review times

The new replay center helped reduce the time referees spent reviewing calls by approximately 50 percent, the NBA announced Friday after the first regular season with the facility in Secaucus, N.J., outfitted with 94 monitors sending images from all 29 arenas.

Among the statistics from the league:

  • The average review time was 42.1 seconds.
  • Of the 1,596 replays upheld or overturned, 80.8 percent were upheld and 19.2 percent were overturned.
  • There were an average of 1.76 reviews per game.
  • The most-common reasons to use the Replay Center were to determine whether a shot was for two points or three (623 times) and whether a shot was released before the end of a quarter (482).

Reducing the time spent on reviews was one of the primary factors in opening the Replay Center. While referees at the games still made the decisions, having league executives with experience as officials allowed the people manning the Secaucus facility to anticipate the reviews the referees would want to see.

Also Friday, the NBA announced it will include which referees made which calls as part of the play-by-play, effective immediately.

 

Numbers preview: Hawks-Nets


VIDEO: The Association: An all-access pass for the Hawks’ playoff push

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Atlanta Hawks were the biggest surprise of the 2014-15 season, ripping off a 33-2 stretch after Thanksgiving to vault into the top spot in the Eastern Conference and never showing any real signs of weakness after that.

The Hawks are the only Eastern Conference team that ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They went 21-12 against teams that finished the season with winning records and scorched an improved Cleveland defense in their last regular season meeting.

Yet few believe that this team is heading to The Finals. Despite their similarities to the team that won the championship last season, there are questions about how Hawks’ formula for success, both on offense and defense, will hold up in the postseason.

Those questions might not be answered in the first round against a team that is fortunate to be here. The Brooklyn Nets are the only playoff team with a negative point differential and not by a narrow margin. The Nets were outscored by 236 points this season. They were 24-18 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, but lost 17 games by more than 15 points.

They still have a talented roster, but it’s not nearly as cohesive as that of their opponent. And though Brooklyn showed improvement after the All-Star break, it still had a pretty porous defense.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Hawks-Nets, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Atlanta Hawks (60-22)

Pace: 96.2 (15)
OffRtg: 106.2 (6)
DefRtg: 100.7 (7)
NetRtg: +5.6 (4)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Brooklyn: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Hawks notes:

  • Assisted on 67.6 percent of their baskets, leading the league in assist rate for the third straight season.
  • 79.5% of their jump shots were uncontested, the highest rate in the league, according to SportVU.
  • Ranked last in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing just 21.4 percent of available offensive boards.
  • Allowed just 1.01 points per possession in transition, the lowest rate in the league, according to Synergy.
  • Kyle Korver had the best effective field goal percentage on both contested jumpers and uncontested jumpers among players with 100 of each.

Brooklyn Nets (38-44)

Pace: 95.0 (24)
OffRtg: 101.9 (18)
DefRtg: 105.0 (24)
NetRtg: -3.1 (22)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Atlanta: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Nets notes:

The matchup

Season series: Hawks won 4-0.
Pace: 96.6
ATL OffRtg: 118.3 (1st vs. BKN)
BKN OffRtg: 99.8 (17th vs. ATL)

Matchup notes:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar undergoes heart surgery

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Legendary NBA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is resting and recuperating in Los Angeles following what doctors say was “successful” quadruple coronary bypass surgery. Abdul-Jabbar, who yesterday turned 68 years old, is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a six-time MVP and a member of the Hall of Fame.

UCLA Health issued the following statement via the Los Angeles Lakers…

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was admitted to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center this week with cardiovascular disease, and he underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery on April 16. The operation was performed by Dr. Richard Shemin, UCLA’s chief of cardiac surgery.

Shemin said the surgery was successful and he expects Abdul-Jabbar to make a full recovery.

At this time, Abdul-Jabbar would like to thank his surgical team and the medical staff at UCLA, his alma mater, for the excellent care he has received. He is looking forward to getting back to his normal activities soon.

He asks that you keep him in your thoughts and, most importantly, cherish and live each day to its fullest.

For those wanting to send well wishes, he thanks you in advance and asks that you support those in your own community who may be suffering from various health issues.

Get well soon, Cap.

Numbers preview: Cavs-Celtics


VIDEO: The Starters: Cavs-Celtics preview

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — LeBron James‘ quest to bring a championship to Cleveland begins again this weekend. James has been here before, but teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have not. Game 1 against the Boston Celtics on Sunday will be the first playoff game of their careers.

The Cavs have looked like the favorites in the Eastern Conference over the last couple of months, going 33-10 after James returned from a two-week break in mid-January. Their offense has been off the charts at times, and their defense has been improved with the additions of Timofey Mozgov and Iman Shumpert.

The Celtics had their own renaissance by getting rid of two of their three highest-paid players. They traded Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green and finished the season on a 23-12 stretch. Two of those wins came against the Cavs, but James played just 26 minutes of the April 10 meeting in Cleveland and four of the Cavs’ starters sat out the April 12 meeting in Boston.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Cavs-Celtics, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29)

Pace: 94.8 (25)
OffRtg: 107.7 (4)
DefRtg: 104.1 (20)
NetRtg: +3.7 (7)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Boston: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Cavs notes:

  • Had the league’s best offense against its top five defenses, scoring 107.9 points per 100 possessions over 14 games against the Warriors, Bucks, Spurs, Grizzlies and Wizards.
  • Ranked 25th defensively through Jan. 11 (the end of LeBron James‘ two-week break), having allowed 106.0 points per 100 possessions. Ranked 16th defensively (102.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) after that. Overall, 20th is the lowest any James team has ranked in defensive efficiency, and no championship team has ranked that low in the 37 seasons since the league started counting turnovers.
  • Isolated on 11.4 percent of their possessions, the highest rate in the league, according to Synergy.
  • Kyrie Irving scored 1.09 points per possession on isolations, the best mark among players with at least 100 isolation possessions.
  • In his 24 games with the Knicks, 36 percent of J.R. Smith’s shots were 3-pointers. In his 46 games with the Cavs, 67 percent of Smith’s shots were threes.

Boston Celtics (40-42)

Pace: 98.4 (5)
OffRtg: 101.7 (20)
DefRtg: 102.1 (14)
NetRtg: -0.4 (18)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Cleveland: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Celtics notes:

The matchup

Season series: 2-2 (1-1 at each location)
Pace: 99.2
CLE OffRtg: 100.6 (17th vs. BOS)
BOS OffRtg: 105.1 (15th vs. CLE)

Matchup notes:

Morning shootaround — April 17


VIDEO: Top 10 plays from 2014-15 regular season

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Durant ‘can’t wait’ for start of 2015-16 | Kupchak optimistic Lakers can rebuild fast | Gores gives support to Drummond | Brown worried about Embiid’s weight, work ethic

No. 1: Durant smarting over season, can’t wait for 2015-16 — Oklahoma City came within one game of a playoff berth, but ultimately missed out on that goal. Who knows what the Thunder could have accomplished this season with their revamped roster and, of course, a healthier Kevin Durant. In the team’s closing news conference, the reigning MVP said he can’t wait for next season to prove all his doubters wrong. ESPN.com’s Royce Young was on hand and has more:

After having a third surgery on his right foot, 2014 MVP Kevin Durant called this season the toughest year he’s ever had playing basketball.

“I’m definitely pissed. I heard a lot of stuff during this time I’ve been injured from everybody. From different people. Definitely pissed,” Durant, speaking at the Thunder’s annual exit interviews, said Thursday, without specifically mentioning what was said or who said it. “Can’t wait until the first game.”

Durant was asked if he had concerns with the history of big men and foot injuries.

“Bill Walton and Yao Ming had two totally different injuries than I had,” Durant said. “I can remember a lot of people saying I was too small, too skinny. But now, all of a sudden, I’m a big man. So I don’t know what you mean by that. It’s two totally different injuries that I have from those guys.

“But I know for sure I’ll be back. I know I’ll put the work in. I know that I’m never going to just quit on anything, so I’m going to keep working until I get back right.”

“It’s definitely been the toughest year I’ve ever had playing basketball, but just try to look forward to and stay positive with it all and help my guys out,” Durant said. “Every day I tell myself we’re going to look back on this and smile and laugh at it and recognize this is just an obstacle we had to climb over to get to where we want to get to.”

Set to be a free agent in the summer of 2016, Durant was asked about his desire to remain with the organization.

“My concern is getting back healthy. That’s all I’m worried about,” Durant said. “I know that stuff is going to start to roll around here soon, but I’m just worried about getting healthy and playing again and doing something I love to do. I’m going to work my tail off to get back right, and that’s all I’m focused on.”

The 2015-16 campaign will carry a bright spotlight and a different kind of pressure. Durant, though, isn’t concerned with that.

“Every year, you can’t put too much pressure on it,” he said. “If I go in saying, ‘Oh, this is the biggest we’ve ever had’ … Obviously we always want to win the championship, but from day one, you can’t put too much pressure on yourself. You’ve just to go out and play and everything will take care of itself.”


VIDEO: Kevin Durant is already gearing up for next season

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Numbers preview: Rockets-Mavs


VIDEO: West Series Preview: Rockets – Mavericks

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Southwest Division comprises more than half of the Western Conference playoff bracket. So two of them have to play each other.

The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets both made changes to their roster in December, bringing the enigmatic Rajon Rondo and Josh Smith from the Eastern Conference. A month after they added Rondo to their mix, the Mavs were 30-13, a game ahead of the Rockets.

But things went downhill from there. The Mavs led the league in offensive efficiency at the time they traded for Rondo, but scored almost 10 fewer points per 100 possessions after the trade than they did before it. Their defense did improve some, but not enough to make up for the offensive drop-off.

The Rockets, meanwhile, survived a myriad of injuries to win the division and finish second in the West. They’re missing two starters and don’t have Dwight Howard at 100 percent, but have gotten by with a top-10 defense and an MVP candidate. That could be enough to get through an opponent that has had issues on both ends of the floor at one point or another.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Rockets-Mavs, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Houston Rockets (56-26)

Pace: 99.3 (2)
OffRtg: 104.2 (12)
DefRtg: 100.5 (6)
NetRtg: +3.7 (6)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Dallas: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Rockets notes:

20150416_corner_3s

Dallas Mavericks (50-32)

Pace: 97.4 (9)
OffRtg: 107.2 (5)
DefRtg: 103.7 (18)
NetRtg: +3.5 (8)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Houston: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Mavs notes:

The matchup

Season series: Rockets won 3-1 (2-0 in Houston).
Pace: 100.7
HOU OffRtg: 100.8 (19th vs. DAL)
DAL OffRtg: 97.9 (19th vs. HOU)

Matchup notes:

Numbers preview: Bulls-Bucks


VIDEO: East Series Preview: Bulls – Bucks

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — There’s a lot of new blood at the top of the Eastern Conference. The teams that met in the conference finals each of the last two years failed to qualify for the postseason this year. And only one of the top six teams in the standings – Washington – won a playoff series last year.

The Milwaukee Bucks represent the new blood. They were in the postseason two years ago, but only one player – Ersan Ilyasova – remains from that roster. And the weakness of the Eastern Conference has allowed the Bucks to go from the worst record in the NBA to a No. 6 seed with 41 wins.

The Chicago Bulls were supposed to be one of the favorites in the East. But injuries and a drop-off on defense have resulted in a disappointing season. They have all their pieces back together for the postseason, but haven’t had the time to build much consistency on either end of the floor.

This promises to be the ugliest series of the first round. The two teams combined to score just 95 points per 100 possessions in their four regular season meetings.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Bulls-Bucks, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Chicago Bulls (50-32)

Pace: 95.4 (21)
OffRtg: 104.7 (10)
DefRtg: 101.5 (11)
NetRtg: +3.3 (9)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Milwaukee: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Bulls notes:

20150416_opp_mid-range

Milwaukee Bucks (41-41)

Pace: 96.5 (12)
OffRtg: 100.5 (25)
DefRtg: 99.3 (2)
NetRtg: +1.2 (14)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Chicago: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Bucks notes:

The matchup

Season series: Bulls won 3-1 (2-0 in Chicago).
Pace: 93.3
CHI OffRtg: 97.6 (17th vs. MIL)
MIL OffRtg: 91.8 (26th vs. CHI)

Matchup notes: