Thursday, April 17, 2008

NBA News: Playoffs tip off this weekend

How important is Game 1 of a best-of-seven series? In the 363 best-of-seven series since the league's inaugural season in 1946-47, the team that has won the opening game has gone on to win 284 of 363 (.782) series. Not surprisingly, the team with homecourt advantage has fared well, with those teams having won 272 of 363 (.749) series. In the 15 postseason series last year, the Game 1 winner captured 11 series, with nine of those won by the team with homecourt advantage. Click here for the first round schedule.

CAN YOU REPEAT THAT? Since the NBA's inaugural season in 1946-47, 20 of 61 winners of The Finals have followed their championship seasons by repeating. Among the other 41 teams, nine lost in The Finals, 16 lost in the conference finals, nine lost in the conference semifinals, five lost in the first round and two failed to make the playoffs. The defending champion Spurs also won The Finals in 1999, 2003 and 2005. In the 2000 playoffs, the Spurs lost in the first round against the Suns 3-1; in 2004, the Lakers defeated them in the semifinals 4-2; and in 2006, San Antonio lost to the Mavericks in the semifinals 4-3.

IF AT FIRST ... Since 1946-47, nine of 61 runners-up in The Finals have followed their near-championship season by winning The Finals. Among the other 52 teams, 11 lost in The Finals, 10 lost in the conference finals, 18 lost in the conference semifinals, eight lost in the first round and five failed to make the playoffs.

Around the League
· NBA playoff rosters will feature 50 international players from 25 countries and territories on official rosters (active and inactive) for the 2007-08 NBA playoffs.
· Eleven teams won at least 50 games, the most ever. Prior to this season, the most 50-win teams in one season was 10, which occurred four times: 1993-94, 1996-97, 1997-98 and 2000-01.
· Thirteen teams averaged at least 100 points. The last time at least 13 teams averaged 100 points for the season was 1995-96 when 13 teams averaged triple digits.
· The league averaged 99.9 points, the highest average since the 1994-95 season (101.4 ppg), which also is the last time the league averaged 100 points for the season.
· Three teams averaged at least 110 points -- Golden State, Phoenix and Denver. The last time at least three teams averaged 110+ points was 1994-95 when three teams accomplished the feat.
· When the Celtics knocked off the Indiana Pacers on April 2, they tied the 1997-98 San Antonio Spurs for the largest one-year record improvement in NBA history. Boston then passed the Spurs for the biggest turnaround in NBA history on April 5 with a win over the Charlotte Bobcats. The Spurs enjoyed a +36 game turnaround in 1997-98. Boston enjoyed a +42 game turnaround this season.
· Cleveland's LeBron James averaged a league-leading 30.0 points to go along with 7.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists. Two other players -- Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan -- have had seasons in which they averaged at least 30.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and seven assists. Jordan accomplished the feat for the 1988-89 season. Robertson had five such seasons (1960-61, 1961-62, 1963-64, 1965-66 and 1988-89).
· New Orleans' Chris Paul led the league in assists (11.6 apg) and steals (2.7 spg). Four players -- Slick Watts, Don Buse, Michael Ray Richardson and John Stockton -- have led the league in both categories for a season. Stockton, the last player to accomplish the feat, is the only one to do it twice (1988-89, 1991-92).

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