2024 NBA Playoffs

1 key number to know for every opening round NBA Playoffs series

Spotlighting one noteworthy stat that could play a part in each first-round matchup.

The 3-pointer could have a minimal impact on the Nuggets-Lakers series.

The eye test may tell one story, but the numbers tell another. Take a look at one standout stat for each playoff series.

(1) Boston vs. (8) Miami

-8.3% – Jrue Holiday had a usage rate of just 16.1% this season, the lowest mark of his career and down from 24.4% in 2022-23. That (-8.3%) was the biggest drop, by a wide margin, among 209 players that played at least 1,000 minutes in each of the last two seasons. The two-time All-Star has embraced a smaller role in a stacked starting lineup with a new team, and it’s worked for both him and the Celtics. Go deeper.

(2) New York vs. (7) Philadelphia

24.5% — According to Second Spectrum tracking, the Knicks took 24.5% of their shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock this season. That was the league’s highest rate by a wide margin … with the Sixers ranking second at 22.6%. Over two series in last year’s playoffs, Philadelphia took an amazing 30.8% of its shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock. Go deeper.

(3) Milwaukee vs. (6) Indiana

56% – The Pacers allowed their opponents to take 56% of their shots in the paint. That was the league’s highest opponent rate by a huge margin. Indiana limited opponent 3-point attempts, but gave up a lot of shots near the basket, a strategy that didn’t work out so well given that they finished 24th in defensive efficiency. The good news is that they got better at defending shots in the paint (55.4%), as they ranked 16th defensively over the last five weeks than they were prior (59.3%). Go deeper.

(4) Cleveland vs. (5) Orlando

9.2% – The Magic shot 58.7% (11th best) in the paint, but had an effective field goal percentage of 49.5% (28th) on shots from outside the paint. That (9.2%) was the league’s biggest such differential. The Magic ranked in the bottom 10 offensively for the 11th straight season, with their lack of perimeter shooting being their biggest issue. Go deeper.

(1) Oklahoma City vs. (8) New Orleans

41% — The Thunder got 41% of their regular-season minutes, the league’s fourth-highest rate, from rookies (23%, third highest) or second-year players (18%, eighth highest). None of the other seven teams that got at least 25% of their minutes from rookies or second-year players reached the playoffs. Go deeper.

(2) Denver vs. (7) L.A. Lakers

18-15 – This is the series for which 3-pointers will mean the least. The Nuggets were the only team that had a winning record (18-15) in games in which they were outscored from 3-point range this season. The Lakers, meanwhile, had the most wins (23-29) when being outscored from deep. Denver (35.2%) and L.A. (35.8%) ranked 30th and 28th, respectively in the percentage of their shots that came from 3-point range, and those rates were even lower (32.9% and 31.0%) over the three regular-season meetings. Go deeper.

(3) Minnesota vs. (6) Phoenix

64.8% — The Wolves allowed their opponents to take only 64.8% of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range in their 41 road games. That was the league’s lowest opponent rate as Minnesota ran its opponents off the 3-point line and – with the Defensive Player of the Year favorite manning the paint – kept them from getting to the rim. Forcing opponents to take the least efficient shots on the floor (those between the restricted area and the 3-point line) is a big reason why the Wolves had the league’s No. 1 defense by a wide margin. Go deeper.

(4) LA Clippers vs. (5) Dallas

8.4 — Taking away their last two games (in which they rested both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving), the Mavs were 8.4 points per 100 possessions better after the trade deadline (plus-8.3, second best) than they were before it (minus-0.1, 17th). That was the league’s biggest improvement by a wide margin, and the much bigger improvement was on defense, where the Mavs ranked 22nd before the deadline and fifth between the deadline and those last two games. Go deeper.

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X. 

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