A look inside the numbers of the NBA playoffs, as the conference semifinals resume Friday night with Cleveland at Chicago and Houston at the Los Angeles Clippers.
The other semis pick up again on Saturday, with Golden State at Memphis and Atlanta visiting Washington.
3 FOR ALL
More 3-pointers are being shot in playoff games than ever.
By a lot. By a whole lot.
Entering Friday, the average NBA game in these playoffs has featured 50 free-throw attempts - thanks, Hack-a-Everybody - and a staggering 49 tries from 3-point range. That's a pace well above the 44.7 attempts from 3-point range during last year's playoffs, and is also way ahead of any regular-season clip in league history.
It's been clear that this is easily basketball's most three-happy era since the arc was added, but consider that just three years ago the average playoff game had 47 free-throw tries and 35 shots from long range.
Now, the numbers are basically even.
Atlanta is averaging 32 attempts from 3-point range per game in these playoffs. Of the eight teams left, the only one that isn't at times totally reliant on that particular shot is Memphis, which averaged about 13 attempts from distance in its first seven playoff games.
And all that shooting from deep partially explains this ...
That's the sound everyone's hearing a lot of so far in these playoffs.
Going into Friday, the league was shooting at about 44 percent in the postseason - on pace for only the 40th-best single-playoff effort in NBA history.
But that's not all on the 3-pointer, where teams have been connecting on about 35 percent of their tries. Foul shooting has been downright putrid as well.
Across the league, teams have hit 73.5 percent of their shots from the foul line in the playoffs, a number that is obviously watered down by all the intentional hacking of primarily DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard. That's on pace for just the 47th-best playoff season from the line leaguewide.
There is some good news for the lovers of offense, however. Despite all those misses, playoff games haven't had this many points (202.5 per game entering Friday) since 1992.
Your early front-runner for NBA Finals MVP (provided he gets there, of course) might very well be Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Here's all he's done in these playoffs, going into Friday's play:
- He's the NBA playoff leader in total points (229), rebounds (129) and assists (69). Yes, the Clippers had the benefit of playing more games than anyone else so far in the playoffs, but for Griffin to have more assists than anyone in the early going is unexpected, to say the least.
- He has three triple-doubles. The rest of the league has zero so far in these playoffs.
- Nine games, nine double-doubles. He's the only player with one in every postseason game thus far. And keep in mind, no one had more than nine of those in the entirety of the 2014 playoffs.
Or more specifically, what home-court advantage?
Home teams are 29-20 going into Friday's games, and everyone who had home court for Games 1 and 2 of the conference semifinals no longer has the home-court edge going into Game 3 of their respective series.
All of them are knotted at a game apiece.
He's at 6,966 heading into Game 3 of Cleveland's series with Chicago on Friday night. He'll become the 12th player in league history to log that many playoff minutes, and he's going to climb the league's assist charts as well.
James goes into Game 3 with 1,059 playoff assists, tied with San Antonio's Tony Parker for No. 6 all-time. Chances are, James will be No. 4 on that list before too much time has passed in Game 3; Steve Nash is No. 5 on the playoff assist list with 1,061, and Larry Bird is No. 4 at 1,062.