Buying or Selling Postseason Outliers Through Two Weeks of NBA Playoffs

When Kawhi Leonard had a huge NBA Finals last year before emerging as a top-10 player in the league this season, it was a sign of things to come. But don’t always trust huge postseason surges — sometimes it’s just a blip, like when Jerome James parlayed a big first-round series into a huge contract from the New York Knicks, and literally nothing more. 

That’s why today we’re going to play Buy or Sell with some first round outliers. What can we expect to continue as the playoffs move forward, and what should we expect to come to a grinding halt? 

The Wizards are shooting — and making — more threes

Washington basically morphed into an entirely different team in the first round of the playoffs. After playing Paul Pierce at power forward very sparingly during the regular season, that alignment became almost a default in the series against the Toronto Raptors. 

Using Pierce as a “big” helped space the floor, which in turn created opportunities to let it fly from deep. Pierce and Otto Porter shot extremely well from deep, and one reason this trend seems more likely to continue than not, is that sharpshooter Bradley Beal didn’t even connect at a great clip in the opening round, making just 33.0 percent of his deep attempts. 

John Wall creates three-point shots more than nearly any player in basketball, and if the Wizards continue to down shift their lineups, that should carry over to Washington’s second round series against the Atlanta Hawks.

Verdict: Buy

Al Horford‘s jumper is ice cold

Horford shot 47.0 percent on attempts outside the paint during the regular season. In Atlanta’s first round series against the Brooklyn Nets, that number dropped all the way down to 31.7 percent.

Why? Quite simply, he’s missing open jumpers. As the chart above shows, Horford made 45.0 percent of jump shots (10-plus feet from the basket) described by NBA.com as “open” during the regular season, meaning those shots where the closest defender to his shot was no closer than four feet away. In the playoffs, that number has plummeted to 32.8 percent. 

The Wiz allowed more than 32 open jumpers per game in the regular season, and that number rose above 34 in their first round series. If they leave Horford open in the next round, expect him to bounce back very quickly.

Verdict: Sell

The Grizzlies are smoking-hot on offense

The Grizzlies, especially in Games 1 through 3, torched the Portland Trail Blazers defense. Mike Conley got wherever he wanted on the floor, Marc Gasol was a beast, and both Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes dominated off the bench.

In those three contests, Memphis actually had an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 109.1, a full 6.0 points better than their regular season mark and the equivalent of a top-three season-long unit. That offense dropped off in the two games Conley sat out with a broken face, but that’s not the only reason we shouldn’t expect it to continue into the next round. 

Portland’s defense is not Golden State’s. The Blazers collapsed defensively down the stretch after Wesley Matthews got hurt. In March and April, they allowed points at a bottom-10 rate after playing top-five(ish) defense for most of the year. 

The Warriors, meanwhile, have the best defense in the league. They use manic switching and timely rotations to smother opposing offenses. The Grizz, an average offense in the regular season, managed a Sixers-edge 97.7 offensive rating against Golden State in three regular season meetings. 

When you add that to Conley’s absence, as well as Memphis’ unsustainably hot three-point shooting, you begin to get an idea of why their hot scoring won’t continue. But it’s the microscopic turnover rate that may be least sustainable of all. The Warriors were seventh in the NBA at turning opponent possessions into turnovers this season. 

Verdict: Sell

Draymond Green has massive rebound and assist numbers

No fancy chart is needed here. Green averaged 8.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in the regular season, and in the first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans, those numbers shot up to an incredible 12.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists. 

Reason No. 1: Green played an additional 10 minutes per game in that series compared to the regular season: his minute-load jumped from 31.5 all the way up to 41.5 in the first round. That could continue against Memphis, but it’s tough to ask someone Green’s size to play that many minutes against Zach Randolph

Randolph’s rebounding prowess, and Marc Gasol’s, are a reason Green’s boarding may take a downturn. He’ll have to put a body on Randolph at all times on the defensive glass, and he may be even more perimeter-based offensively in order to pull ZBO away from the hoop, which could drive down his offensive rebounding numbers. 

Getting into open space on the offensive end, though, should draw additional help defenders toward Green, which will allow him to pick out shooters dotted around the arc for assists. 

In three regular season games against Memphis, Green averaged 7.0 rebounds, about 1.2 per game less than his season average, but also 4.0 assists, slightly more than his averages. Going forward, we like the assists to continue being high, but the rebounds to come back down to earth.

Verdict: Sell the rebounding, Buy the assists 

Cleveland’s sporting an enormous free throw rate and Tristan Thompson’s monster offensive rebounding jumped even higher

We’re lumping these together because ultimately intertwined. The Cavs started a parade to the free-throw line against the Boston Celtics in the first round, taking trips at a near-Hardenian rate.

In the regular season, the Cavs’ free throw rate was 0.13 higher with Kevin Love on the floor, and he obviously won’t be out there against the Bulls, and without his shooting to space the floor, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving may find it more difficult to drive to the basket, thus lowering the team’s free throw rate. Fouls are most often draw near the rim, after all. 

When you remember that Chicago’s defense so often encourages mid-range jumpers, and that both Irving and James, as well as J.R. Smith when he returns from suspension, can be coaxed into them on occasion, it seems likely the Cavs won’t be making nearly as many trips to the line. 

As for Thompson, his offensive rebound rate in the first round shot up from sixth-best in the league to a rate that would be topped only by Andre Drummond. While they have a reputation as bruisers, Chicago was actually a below-average defensive rebounding team during the regular season, and Thompson is frankly just significantly more athletic than any member of the Bulls’ frontcourt. He should continue to feast on the boards.

Verdict: Sell the free throw rate, Buy the offensive rebounding

With nobody set for majority, Britain braces for hung parliament

British Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader David Cameron greets worshippers during a visit to the Neasden Hindu Temple in LondonBy William James LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is heading towards a hung parliament after Thursday's national election, fuelling uncertainty about the country's future in the European Union, its economic policy, and Scotland's place in the United Kingdom. Four days before Britain's closest election in decades, the prospect of no single party winning an overall majority and which alliances could be struck with smaller parties afterwards is dominating debate. Opinion polls show Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, neck and neck, with neither on track to win control of the House of Commons on their own.


Herschel Supply Co. x Clarks Originals Spring/Summer 2015 Desert Boots

To help celebrate the 65th anniversary of the iconic Desert Boot, Clarks has tapped Canadian accessories company Herschel Supply Co. to conceive a unique rendition of the shoe. Available in two colorways – navy or powder grey – the Desert Boots’ suede upper is complemented by tan tumbled leather on the tongue, a crepe sole and clean lines. When you add in Hershel Supply’s design know-how, the long-standing tradition of the Desert Boot remains not only intact, but gets uplifted.

BUY NOW / $148

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Manny Pacquiao gets thoroughly patronised by HBO’s Max Kellerman – video

HBO interviewer Max Kellerman’s post-fight interview with Manny Pacquiao, following the Filipino’s defeat against Floyd Mayweather. Pacquiao received some stern questioning by Kellerman after the bout, after he told the reporter he thought he’d won the fight. ‘You thought you won the fight? Why?’, Kellerman demands. Pacquiao looks a little flummoxed by the persistence of Kellerman’s questioning and despite the language barrier does his best to explain Continue reading…







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5 Things That Are Holding Liverpool Back from Being Premier League Contenders

How do Liverpool rise from top-four hopefuls to genuine Premier League contenders? It seems a big step for manager Brendan Rodgers to take after a late-season struggle for form.

But Rodgers still believes he can win the title during his time at Liverpool, as Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph retold last week.

I think it’s a mark of how the club has moved forward that there’s such disappointment that we weren’t challenging this year,” Rodgers said. “Of course it’s been disappointing not to have had a challenge this year. I have absolutely no doubt it will happen.”

The manager added: “That’s something that I’m very hungry to do. And it’s something I won’t rest in my time here until we have.”

So how can the Liverpool boss mastermind a rise in the Premier League?

Here are five things currently holding Liverpool back from being Premier League contenders, including the requirement of a fit, proven goalscoring striker.

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