What was the joke after the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks?
Why can’t LeBron shop at the dollar store?
Because he only has three quarters.
Since that nightmare of a series, LeBron has won his ring, has been named MVP (for what seems like the fortieth time), and further solidified his title as “Best Basketball Player in the World, and Probably the Solar System”.
But playing well in the fourth quarter has still been (and will always be) the litmus test that fans and critics judge players on (just ask Kevin Durant). So looking at the teams still currently in the NBA Playoffs, which teams played the best in the fourth quarter of playoff games, and did they also play well in the fourth quarter of regular season games?
Let’s start with offensive rating (which is points scored per 100 possessions).
Note: remember, this is only looking at the fourth quarter of playoff and regular season games.
Not surprisingly, the Miami Heat dominated offensive rating during the regular season and during the playoffs. What is surprising is that some teams actually hadmoreoffensive success during the playoffs than the regular season (I’m looking at you, Indiana and New York). This is surprising, because during the playoffs, you tend to play against better teams and better defenses that learn your offensive tendencies over the course of a series. Thus, one would expect that teams would generally have less offensive success during the playoffs compared to the regular season. The Knicks and the Pacers buck this trend.
Defensive Rating is Points Conceded per 100 Possessions. And while most teams are playing defense at roughly the same clip that they played during the regular season, the Knicks and Spurs have actually had more defensive success during the playoffs. For the Knicks this is probably due to the fact that they’ve played god-awful offenses during the playoffs — the Celtics and the Pacers — and so they haven’t been scored upon as much. The Spurs on the other hand have had to deal with Lakers (who have a meh offense) and the Golden State Warriors (who only have an offense) — and yet they’ve still played better defense during the playoffs than they did during the regular season. That’s pretty impressive.
The Miami Heat have dominated teams in the fourth quarter of playoff games. Yes, this is partly due to the fact that they played the Milwaukee Bucks — but they also played the Chicago Bulls, who were a pretty tough team with some pretty good players (obviously, the Bulls were missing Deng and Hinrich). The Knicks and San Antonio have also had pretty good success in the fourth quarter of games, especially relative to their fourth quarter success in the regular season.
More surprisingly, is the case of the Indiana Pacers and the Memphis Grizzlies. Indiana has succckkkkeeeedddd during the fourth quarter of playoff games this year (I wonder how much of this is because of their infamous 2-30 run in New York), while they played decently well in the fourth quarter of regular season games. On the flipside, the Memphis Grizzlies have not played well during the fourth quarter of regular season games this year, but have played ok during the fourth quarter of playoff games.
Maybe it’s all about the individual matchups. Maybe it’s all about coaching adjustments. Or maybe the Pacers aren’t “clutch” and the Grizzlies are.