Five key NBA playoff numbers you need to know

Five key NBA playoff numbers you need to know

Five key NBA playoff numbers you need to know
By The Prez

Tony Finn writes for Covers Experts The Prez.

The NBA playoffs begin this weekend. Before the first ball is thrown up, take a look at some key numbers and trends that could impact your wagers this postseason.

Key number: 3-47

Why: Since the NBA expanded to a 16-team playoff field in 1984, No. 8 seeds have advanced just three times in the 50 series against top-seeded teams.

It’s just a warning if you are looking longingly at the gigantic odds placed on Detroit against Cleveland and Utah against the Lakers in the first round.

Well, even Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is calling his team’s chances against L.A. “pretty bleak.”

Utah is just 15-26 on the road this year and finished the regular season losing seven of nine, including a final night beat down at Los Angeles. The Lakers are 16-3 all-time against Utah at STAPLES Center and have won six in a row against the Jazz there. While Utah is a good home team, L.A. finished off the Jazz in conference semifinals in Salt Lake City last year.

As for the Pistons’ chances against the Cavs, Cleveland was 36-4 versus below .500 teams this year, which Detroit is. Do you really think the Cavs, who led the league in point differential, will lose four out of seven?

Key number: 43 percent

Why: That’s New Orleans sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic’s average shooting percentage in the Hornets’ regular season wins. In losses, it’s 35 percent from the field.

Many people believe that a full-strength New Orleans squad might be the biggest threat to the Lakers despite being the No. 7 seed. That’s why it was encouraging for Hornets backers to see Tyson Chandler play 20 minutes in the regular season finale, his first game since mid-March.

The Hornets need Peja’s 3-point shooting most of all. He is the primary beneficiary of all those Chris Paul passes from inside the paint. And if Stojakovic is hitting, that means his man must hang out on the perimeter and won’t be able to help double-team Paul or David West.

Stojakovic averaged 20.7 points per game while shooting 56.4 percent from the field in the three games he played against Denver this year and the Hornets won two of those, so a Round 1 upset is possible.

Key number: 1988

Why: That’s the last time the Denver Nuggets have had home-court advantage in a playoff series. As the No. 2 seed they’ll have it against everyone but the Lakers out West.

The Nuggets, who tied a franchise record with 54 wins, haven’t won a playoff series since 1994, losing six consecutive times in the first round.

"To me, there's a confidence that's never been there before," Nuggets coach George Karl told reporters.

Karl is 3-16 in the playoffs as the Denver coach and probably will be out of a job if Denver loses to New Orleans in the first round.

Key number: 18

Why: Of the past 20 NBA champions, 18 have been seeded either No. 1 or No. 2 in the conference. The two exceptions were the 2007 Spurs (No. 3) and 1995 Rockets, who were the lowest seeded team (at No. 6) to win the NBA title.

In fact, in the past 20 years, only four teams not seeded in the top two have reached the NBA Finals, with the Knicks in 1999 (as a No. 8) and Lakers in 1991 (No. 3) joining the aforementioned Spurs and Rockets.

Key number: 41-0

Why: You better beat a Phil Jackson team in Game 1 or history says you won’t win the series. Jackson is a perfect 41-for-41 in playoff series when his teams win the first game. Of course, it helps to have the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

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