The NBA Playoffs: Does Defense Really Improve? (Part 2 of 3)

Disregard this article; it needs to be corrected. Sorry for the bad link.


This is the second part of a three-part series on defense in the NBA Playoffs.  We often hear from NBA analysts that defense improves, or at least intensifies between game 82 of the regular season and Game 1 of the playoffs.  It seems intuitive enough, the playoffs start and there’s a lot to play for: pride, fame, and winning the ‘chip.  The table below compares and contrasts defensive performance in the regular season and the playoffs during the 1990s.  The two metrics used in this comparison are Pace (Possessions Per 48 Minutes) and Offensive Rating (Points Per 100 Possessions).

For the 1990’s as a whole, the pace of the game slowed down by 4.0% in the playoffs, and the Offensive Rating decreased by 1.7%.  This result shows that there were fewer points scored in the playoffs, mostly because of the slower pace being compounded by the decrease in offensive rating.

Notables Facts About The 1990s:

Unlike the 1980s, there was evidence of defense becoming better in the playoffs in the 1990s.  The pace in the playoffs slowed down by 4% in 1990s, more than the 3.5% in the 1980s.  While the 1980s’ playoff offensive efficiency was no different than the regular season, the playoff offensive efficiency during the 1990s decreased by a small, but significant 1.7%.

The regular season pace decreased in 9 of 10 years in the 1990s.  Anyone who watched the NBA in 1990s knows that when the Bad Boy Pistons came to prominence, the league became progressively slower and a great deal of physical play was allowed until the “Derek Harper rule was instituted.(Unofficially around ’97 or ’98 and than officially in 2001)

Only two years in the 1990s saw an increase in offensive rating during the playoffs; those increases were only .1% and .2%.  Part 1



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2 Responses to The NBA Playoffs: Does Defense Really Improve? (Part 2 of 3)

  1. Sports Chump says:

    Hey, man.Just for the record, have you read "Scorecasting?" If you haven't, you should. It's right up your alley.I'm reviewing it for their publisher and will keep you posted when it's up on my site.

  2. Deron says:

    I haven't read it yet, but I have heard of it.

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