FanPost

Playoff Defense and the Blazers

They say defense wins in the playoffs.  The Blazers have been playing by far the best defense among playoff teams over the last 10 games.  Here are the Blazers ranks for 8 defensive categories, taken from NBA.com's team stats.  I also show where the Blazers stand in the range of values for that stat, among playoff teams, with 100% being the best and 0% being the worst.  These percents are the % of the way between the worst and the best among playoff teams.  All figures are for the last 10 games.

Fewest opponent points: #1, 100%

Lowest opponent FG%: #1, 100%

Lowest opponent 3pt%: #1, 100%

Fewest opponent assists: #1, 100%

Fewest opponent rebounds: #1, 100%

Most blocks: #6, 74%

Most steals: #7, 53%

Most opponent turnovers: #7, 46%

In two of these categories, the Blazers are best by a wide margin:

In opponent points, 2nd best is at 75%; and in opponent rebounds, 2nd best is at 69%.

If you weight all 8 categories equally, the Blazers average rating is 86%.  The next nearest teams are Cleveland (63%) and the Lakers (61%).  This is a very large gap.

If you set the Blazers at the 100% point of the overall range, and Utah (35%) at the 0% point, then Cleveland is at 57% and the Lakers at 53%.

The overall ratings along this range are:

1: Portland 100%

2: Cleveland 57%

3: Lakers 53%

4: Miami 49%

5: Orlando 47%

6: Boston 45%

7: Denver 44%

8: Houston 40%

9: Atlanta 33%

10: Dallas 31%

11: Philadelphia 30%

12: Chicago 25%

13:Detroit 22%

14: New Orleans 13%

15: San Antonio 3%

16: Utah 0%

Surprisingly, 2 aging teams with long standing reputations for defense have towards the bottom of the list: San Antonio and Detroit.  And Miami sticks out as surprisingly good.

The conclusion is that, if the Blazers can continue to play great defense in the playoffs, they can win by keeping their opponents from scoring.  This means limiting the fluidity of opponents' offense (preventing assists), making them take difficult shots (low FG and 3pt %), and minimizing opportunities (keeping opponents' rebounds down).  This is how they've been winning over the last 10 games.  Hopefully, they can carry this momentum and style of play deep into the playoffs!

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