Happy Sunday. After both the Bucks and Grizzlies failed to cover Friday night, the second round record is 10-11-1. The playoff record is 37-24-1. But today is a new day, and it includes two Game 7s. It doesn’t get better than that. Bucks-Celtics. Mavs-Suns. Let’s run through some series keys and then find some winners.
BUCKS @ CELTICS
- Three-point shooting
The Celtics have won the three-point battle in four games, and they’ve lost it just once. They’re +105 from deep on the series, an absurd figure, and they’re outshooting Milwaukee by over six percent on threes. There’s a pretty clear trend here:
Boston wins: Celtics averaging 17 threes per game, Bucks averaging 6.3
Milwaukee wins: Bucks averaging 11.3 threes per game, Celtics averaging 12.3
That’s a thirty-point shift, going from an average of +32 in favor of Boston across their wins to just +3 in the losses. This isn’t a bold statement, but it is the correct one – Milwaukee needs to hit a few threes and prevent Boston from getting red-hot if they want a good shot at moving on to the ECF. Given the in-game variation, they have a decent shot at both after Game 6. That’s what allows their advantage in the paint, which they’ve held for much of the series despite some improvement from Boston, to take hold.
- Bucks’ supporting cast
Who’s going to step up outside of Giannis for Milwaukee? It makes a difference, and it ultimately comes down the three-point shooting again.
In the three losses, everyone outside of Antetokounmpo has combined to average 61 points on 42.2% shooting from the floor and 25.4% shooting from deep.
In the three wins, they’re shooting just 38.2% from the floor (yikes) but averaging 69.3 points and a 36.9% hit rate from deep. That’s a pretty significant difference.
Pat Connaughton has stepped up. Jrue Holiday is doing a lot on both ends even if the efficiency isn’t there. Wesley Matthews has had a pretty good series. Milwaukee is going to need a few of their non-Giannis pieces to come together if they want to win this one though, and some of those pieces – Allen, Portis, Lopez, Holiday as a shooter, etc. – have been very inconsistent the last six games. They can’t afford to not show up tonight. The margin for error is tiny without Khris Middleton.
- Celtics’ Offensive Production
|Smart (two games)||19.5||55.2||58.3|
|Smart (two games)||11.3||33.3||33.3|
Williams and White, options five and six, have largely balanced each other out in the wins and losses, and Horford has been very good and efficient in most of these games regardless of outcome, though his outlier Game 4 showing certainly helped the Celtics grab that win. But the more important pieces to look to here are Tatum, Brown, and Smart. Tatum is averaging 11 more points, shooting 17% better from the field, and hitting nearly 20% more of his threes in the wins versus the losses. Smart is averaging about 8 points more, hitting 22% more of his shots, and shooting 25%(!!!) better from three. Brown has been significantly more efficient in the wins despite similar scoring volume, making about 7% more of his shots and 21% more of his threes. If Boston comes out hot at home, Milwaukee might be in trouble. But the series numbers suggest that’s essentially a coin flip. Which version of the Boston offense do we get? The answer might determine the series.
MAVS @ SUNS
- Dallas Role Player Production
We can talk about Dallas minus Luka too.
In the three losses, the Mavs have had three individual efforts of more than 15 points from a non-Luka player, with just one of those topping 20 points (Brunson with 21 in Game 5). In the three wins, they’ve had five individual efforts of more than 15 points from a non-Luka player, and two of those were for 20+ (28 from Brunson in Game 3 and 24 from Finney-Smith in Game 4).
They’re shooting 20-73 from deep (27.4%) as a supporting cast in the losses. In the wins, that has gone up to 44-93 (47.3%). That’s a massive difference, and it’s been crucial with Doncic not shooting particularly well from deep himself.
This isn’t a difficult picture to paint; Dallas has succeeded when their other guys score and hit shots, and they’ve lost when they haven’t. That’s how basketball tends to work. It’s not the only factor at play here, but it is a rather significant one. Can the Mavs get some production from the non-stars in Phoenix? It hasn’t really happened to this point, but that will need to change.
- Phoenix’s three-point volume and two-point shooting
Threes are a big factor, and it’s affected Phoenix to some degree in their losses. They’re shooting 42.4% on 28.3 three attempts per game in the wins and 39.4% on 23.7 three attempts per game in the losses. That’s a difference of about eight points per game, which is obviously meaningful. You’re not allowed to complain about only making 39.4% of your threes, but Dallas has done a better job of limiting the looks at home. Doing that today would be a boost.
But the more interesting trend has been Phoenix’s shooting from inside the arc. In the wins, they’ve made 34 twos per game at a hit rate of 60.4%. In the losses, they’ve made just 25.3 twos per game at a hit rate of 45.5%. That’s a massive difference worth almost twenty points per game. The home-road shift in this series has been very clear. Will it continue to be that way? Or can Dallas finally make some defensive progress in Phoenix?
- The home-road split
There are more numbers to look into, but this is what it ultimately comes down to. In Phoenix, the Suns are winning by an average of 19 points per game. In Dallas, the Mavs are winning by an average of 15.3 points per game. Not a single one of these games has been within 5 points heading into the fourth quarter, and just two were within 10 points. We really haven’t seen a close game yet. Will Game 7 deliver? Or will the home team keep cruising?
NBA record: 248-222-9 ATS (29-41 Underdog ML), 13-16-1 O/U, 5-8 parlay, 0-2 props
- Bucks +175
Giannis + a few Bucks threes + last game being the Tatum game = Bucks in 7
- Mavs +6.5
The close game has to happen at some point. Right?