New York Knicks at Miami Heat (7:00ET on TNT): Miami leads series 3-1
- Stat: Dwyane Wade has finished on 21 of his 24 attempts from the restricted area in the playoffs, good for a conversion rate of 88%.
- Take: That this series is still going on is a surprise, and we’ve seen nothing over its first four games to assume the Knicks have a legitimate chance at forcing a game 6 tonight in Miami. Save for another Carmelo Anthony explosion and a barrage of three-pointers, the Heat should win comfortably tonight. So our attention goes to one of the most overlooked aspects of the entire season – the crafty finishing ability of Dwyane Wade in the post. Obviously, not all of his 21 makes in the restricted area thus far against New York have come via post-ups, but enough have to drive home the point that Wade’s back-to-the-basket game is truly something to behold. Blessed with supreme overall body strength and long arms, Wade has no trouble finishing over taller defenders in the post. He routinely takes one or two dribbles to establish deeper position, and often acts as a true big man by utilizing hook shots with either hand over the top of his defender. Additionally, Wade does a fantastic job of coming off baseline cross screens and sealing his man off for a quick entry pass. He’s done this routinely against New York and Landry Fields, perfectly planting his feet and using his lower half to create the correct to receive the ball from LeBron James or Mario Chalmers. Maybe most impressive, though, is how comfortable Wade is using his off-hand; because of his accuracy turning over his right shoulder, defenders can’t shade him one way or the other. James has received a lot of attention for the improvements made to his repertoire down low, but Wade is at the very least nearly his equal here, craft and nuance that James can only hope to learn in the future. This is surely something to watch going forward, as Wade will face a different beast in round two against the Pacers; Indy’s likely matchup for him, Paul George, is a legitimate 6’9” with elastic arms and one of the best athletes in the game. Whether or not Wade can score efficiently in the post against George is one the games within the game that will be huge in determining the series’ outcome.
Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies (9:30ET on TNT): Clippers lead series 3-1
- Stat: Chris Paul’s crunch time plus/minus in the playoffs is +38.6. His net efficiency rating – the difference between offensive and defensive efficiency – is 44.5.
- Take: The Stat of the Day on April 12 touched on Paul’s individual aggression and brilliance in the clutch, but noted how the Clippers were actually been less effective this season despite that. Well, that hasn’t been the case thus far for Paul and his team in the playoffs. It’s been the exact opposite, actually, as Paul’s workload has increased and LAC’s extreme effectiveness in crunch time has been the one thing separating them from the Grizzlies in this series. Let’s micro-bullet for ease and emphasis:
- Regular Season Clutch Points Per 36 Minutes/Postseason Clutch Points Per 36 Minutes – 30.8/41.1
- Field Goal Percentage – 42% / 67%
- Offensive Rating – 105.6/121.5
- Defensive Rating – 101.3/77.0
- Usage Rate – 36.5% / 38.9%
- No, this is hardly revelatory stuff; Paul’s incredible play down the stretch has provided this postseason with its finest moments and most popular talking points. But flushed out, the analytics are even more impressive than the eye-test. Keep all of this in mind when every remaining game of this series – let’s hope it’s three, by the way – inevitably comes down to the wire. Paul is as locked in as he’s ever been, and what he’s doing to Memphis when it matters most may go down as some of the best individual play in postseason history if it continues.