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Does a regular season series matchup help with predicting those teams' success in the NBA Playoffs?
The playoffs are all about matchups and adjustments as we all know, yet despite how much the mainstream media (and other "sharp" betting analysts) make the regular season seem irrelevant, it’s actually very useful to break those down in regards to a subsequent playoff series between two teams.
In this article below, that's actually what we'll do: I’ll break down how each of these teams performed during the regular season against the team they’re currently matched up against in the playoffs, as well as highlight the relevant stats you can take away. Most importantly, we'll look at what’s carrying over into their playoff matchups so far, and what we can do to take advantage for the remainder of the playoffs.
Please Note: The series/game odds below are from DraftKings as of Saturday, May 29th at 2:30 a.m. EST:
Nuggets (-200) vs Blazers (+160)
- Next Game: Saturday, 4 p.m. EST on TNT (@ Portland)
- Game 4 Odds: DEN +4 (+143), POR -4 (-175), O/U 227.5
The Nuggets won the regular season series taking 2 of the 3 games, but that was when they had a healthy Jamal Murray. Since he went down with injury, I thought this would be a bad matchup for the Denver Nuggets because the Portland Trail Blazers had a clear advantage in the back court with Murray out. I even liked the Blazers' series price at -120 before the playoffs started, but through 3 games the Nuggets have been the better team while the Blazers have had no answer for the Nuggets' potential MVP in Nikola Jokic.
Several backcourt players have each stepped up to make up for Murray’s absence as well - in Game 3 it was the veteran point guard and journeyman Austin Rivers who stepped up with 21 points in 37 minutes on 50% shooting from the field and 3PT line. In Game 2 it was Monte Morris, Campazzo and Rivers yet again. Damian Lillard has been unbelievable in this series averaging 37 PPG and 9 APG, sure, however if the Blazers are going to tie this series up, they’re going to have to be better on the defensive end by slowing down Jokic and/or doing a better job of containing the Nuggets trio of guards in the backcourt.
Jazz (-670) vs Grizzlies (+460)
- Next Game: Saturday, 9:30 p.m. EST on ESPN (@ Memphis)
- Game 3 Odds: MEM +5 (+165), UTA -5 (-200), O/U 223.5
The Jazz had been the best team all season record-wise and swept the regular season series against the Grizzlies. Jaren Jackson Jr. was the one key player for any team that missed all three matchups. Jackson had been out for majority of the season too, so it’s difficult to gauge what his impact on this regular season series would be even though he's a very talented player. In Game 1 JJJ had 7 points in 24 minutes and in Game 2 he had 16 points in 31 minutes. The true player that can change the outcome of this series, however, is Donovan Mitchell, who averaged 26 PPG for the season and 35 PPG in 2 games played against Memphis. In his Game 2 return, after missing more than a month, he scored 25 points in a 12 point win.
Now the Jazz are fully healthy with their core players and they should be poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Jazz had a +6.7 net rating against the Grizzlies in the regular season and they have a +4.5 net rating against them in the playoffs through two games now. Memphis improved against them some, but the Jazz still are the better team and should win this series now that their best player has finally returned.
Lakers (-835) vs Suns (+500)
- Next Game: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. EST on ABC (@ Los Angeles)
- Game 4 Odds: LAL -7.5 (-315), PHX +7.5 (+260), O/U 210
The Phoenix Suns had the second best record in the Western Conference and won the regular season series against the Los Angeles Lakers by taking 2 out of 3 games, but it's important to note here that LeBron James and Anthony Davis only played one game apiece against them. Now through three games of their first-round playoff matchup, it’s Chris Paul who is dealing with a significant injury that’s hindering his impact. Paul only played 23 minutes and 27 minutes in the last two games, respectively, and has had little to no impact in the process. The Suns have still been able to get great contributions from DeAndre Ayton and Cameron Payne, but the guy that makes this team play to their potential is Chris Paul - and he’s simply not able to elevate this roster they way he has throughout the regular season because of his injury.
After his poor performance in Game 1, Anthony Davis is now resembling his regular season dominance against the Suns. In the one game he played against the Suns in the regular season, he put up a stat line of 42 points 12 rebounds and 5 assists, and over his last 2 games in the playoffs he now has back to back 34-point performances. This is the best Davis has looked since returning from his injury and his impressive run should continue as the Lakers win this series and move into the second round with added confidence.
Mavs vs Clippers
- Next Game: Sunday, 9:30 p.m. EST on TNT (@ Dallas)
- Game 4 Odds: DAL +3 (+123), LAC -3 (-150), O/U Not Yet Available
The Mavs averaged 112.4 PPG during the regular season with a 114.6 points per 100 possessions, which ranked 8th in the league. In rheir 3 regular season games against the Clippers, however, they averaged 109.3 PPG and had 116.7 points per 100 possessions and a +20.6 net rating, winning 2 of 3 games. In one of those regular season matchups, ir was the Mavs who indeed beat the Clippers by 50 (!) points.
It was a couple days after Christmas too, and a lot of the Clippers players came out and said they enjoyed their Christmas a little bit too much after the fact. Regardless of that one outcome, however, these Mavs have shown they’re a tough matchup for the Clippers. The only star to miss any of their regular season matchup was Kawhi Leonard (missed one game), and we can also take a lot away from the regular season and playoff game stats here too, especially if you go back to these teams' first round playoff matchup last year in the bubble that went 6 games. Through the first 2 games of this playoff series the Mavs were averaging 120 PPG and had 128.3 PPG per 100 possessions, which is an improvement of 10.7 PPG and 11.6 points per 100 possessions. Dallas was one of the teams that was hit pretty hard with COVID during the regular season and still managed to finish as the 5th seed out west. And this team could’ve finished even higher if they didn’t have as many obstacles during the regular season. Full disclosure: I have a futures ticket on the Clippers to win the title, but because of them deciding to rest key players for the last two games of the regular season and putting themselves (at the time) in what appeared to be the weaker playoff bracket and a first-round matchup with the Mavericks, it looks like that plan might've backfired and could lead to a first-round exit and blowing up this roster and the superstar duo of Kawhi and Paul George.