2023 In-Season Tournament

NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals: Numbers to know

Advanced statistics help explain why the Pacers, Bucks, Pelicans and Lakers advanced to the Semifinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament.

LeBron James is having the most efficient shooting season of his career.

The first-ever In-Season Tournament has made it to Las Vegas, with the semifinals set for Thursday.

The four teams to make it — the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans — have the third, ninth, 10th and 16th best records, respectively, in the league overall. But they’ve done what it takes to put themselves in position to win the NBA Cup.

OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)

Here are some numbers to know regarding each of the semifinalists. All stats are through Tuesday, Dec. 5.

1. Indiana Pacers (11-8)

OffRtg: 123.6 (1) DefRtg: 120.2 (28) NetRtg: +3.5 (9) Pace: 104.1 (1)

That’s the highest mark in NBA history by a wide margin. It’s also 9.8 more than the current league average (113.8), the biggest differential in the 28 seasons for which we have play-by-play data, topping that of the 2003-04 Dallas Mavericks (+9.0).

  • They would be the first team in 18 seasons to lead the league in both pace and offensive efficiency.

The last team to do it was the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns, who averaged 7.1 fewer possessions per 48 minutes than these Pacers. With its pace (fourth fastest in the 28 seasons for which we have play-by-play data) and efficiency, Indiana has averaged 128.4 points per game, 1.9 more than any other team in NBA history.

  • Tyrese Haliburton has an assist/turnover ratio of 5.05.

That ranks seventh in the league, but would be the highest mark for a player who averaged at least 10 assists per game in the last 34 seasons (60 total instances), since Muggsy Bogues averaged 10.7 assists with an assist/turnover ratio of 5.94 in the 1989/90 season.

2. Milwaukee Bucks (15-6)

OffRtg: 119.2 (3) DefRtg: 115.3 (21) NetRtg: +3.8 (8) Pace: 102.1 (5)

  • The Bucks are one of two teams — the Pacers are the other — that rank in the top 10 in field goal percentage in the paint (62.3%, first), mid-range field goal percentage (45.5%, fifth) and 3-point percentage (38.4%, sixth).

The Pacers (58.9%) and Bucks (58.2%) have what would be the two highest marks for effective field goal percentage in NBA history. The previous high was 57.5% from the 2020-21 Brooklyn Nets.

  • The Bucks have allowed 4.4 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season (110.9, fourth).

While the Bucks’ offense has seen the league’s second-biggest jump in points scored per 100 possessions, the defense has seen the third-biggest jump in points allowed per 100 possessions. They and the Pacers are two of the four teams that rank in the top 10 on offense and in the bottom 10 on defense.

That’s 3.1 more than any other player this season, and it would be the most points in the paint per game for any player in the last 24 seasons (since Shaquille O’Neale averaged 22.5 in 1999-00).

3. New Orleans Pelicans (12-10)

OffRtg: 114.2 (14) DefRtg: 112.8 (15) NetRtg: +1.4 (14) Pace: 100.4 (12)

  • The Pelicans have scored 119.8 per 100 possessions as they’ve won eight of their last 12 games.

That ranks ninth in the league over that stretch and is up from 107.7 per 100 (28th) through their first 10 games (4-6). Improvement has come with better shooting in the paint, more free throws and more offensive rebounds.

  • They’re 7-2 with CJ McCollum.

The Pelicans have only outscored their opponents by 0.2 points per 100 possessions with McCollum on the floor, but they’ve won when he’s been available. Their most-used lineup (with Dyson Daniels in McCollum’s place) has played just 84 minutes, fourth-fewest among all team’s most-used lineups.

  • According to Second Spectrum tracking, 85% of their 3-point attempts have come off the catch.

That’s the league’s highest rate, and the Pelicans are one of six teams that rank in the top 10 in both ball and player movement. But they rank just 26th in overall 3-point rate, having taken just 35.0% of their shots from beyond the arc, with the Lakers one four teams with a lower rate. The Pelicans (minus-7.4 points per game) and Lakers (minus-11.9 points per game) rank 27th and 30th in 3-point differential.

4. Los Angeles Lakers (13-9)

OffRtg: 110.6 (24) DefRtg: 111.4 (9) NetRtg: -0.8 (21) Pace: 100.5 (11)

  • The Lakers have a field goal percentage of 60.6% (fourth best) in the paint and an effective field goal percentage of just 46.6% (30th) on shots from outside the paint.

This would be the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Lakers had the league’s biggest differential regarding how well they’ve shot in the paint and how effectively they’ve shot from outside the paint. (They had the second-biggest differential two seasons ago.) They’ve been outscored by 11.9 points per game from 3-point range, which would be the third-worst discrepancy in the 45 seasons of the 3-point line.

  • They’re one of four teams that are undefeated in games they’ve led at the half.

They’ve led a the half in three of their last four games after doing so in just three of their first 18. They’ve still been 9.0 points per 100 possessions better in the second halves of games (plus-3.7) than they’ve been in first halves (minus-5.3), with the bigger differential coming on defense.

  • LeBron James has an effective field goal percentage of 61.1%.

That would be the highest mark of his career. Both his field goal percentage in the paint (68.9%) and his 3-point percentage (38.7%) are the highest marks of his six seasons with the Lakers, while the percentage of his shots that have come from mid-range (13%) is the lowest mark of his career.

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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 Twitter.

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