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)
- Averaged 2.6 more possessions per 48 minutes than they did last season, the biggest pace increase in the league.
- Improved every quarter as the game went on, from a NetRtg of minus-0.1 in the first quarter to plus-7.3 in the fourth.
- Allowed opponents to shoot just 56.0 percent in the restricted area, the lowest opponent mark in the league.
- Forced their opponents to shoot 31 percent of their shots from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line), the highest rate in the league (see table below).
- Pau Gasol shot 62.3 percent (33-for-53) in the clutch (score within five points in the last five minutes), the best mark among players who attempted at least 25 clutch-time shots.
- Jimmy Butler led the league by traveling 2.7 miles per game.
Milwaukee Bucks (41-41)
Pace: 96.5 (12)
OffRtg: 100.5 (25)
DefRtg: 99.3 (2)
NetRtg: +1.2 (14)
- Were the most improved defensive team in the league, allowing 9.6 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season.
- Committed 17.2 turnovers per 100 possessions, the second highest rate in the league and the highest among playoff teams.
- Forced 17.7 turnovers per 100 possessions, the highest rate in the league.
- After he joined them at the trade deadline, the Bucks outscored their opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions in 758 minutes with Michael Carter-Williams on the floor and were outscored by 11.4 in 654 minutes with him on the bench.
- Zaza Pachulia led the league with 25 clutch-time offensive rebounds.
- No Chicago lineup played in more than one game against the Bucks.
- Chicago point guards Derrick Rose, Aaron Brooks and E’Twaun Moore combined to shoot 15-for-62 (24 percent).
- The Bulls shot 22-for-85 (26 percent) from 3-point range, their worst mark against any opponent.
- The Bucks’ effective field goal percentage of 41.7 percent was their lowest mark against any opponent.
- The Bucks assisted on just 50.7 percent of their field goals, their lowest mark against any opponent.