Monday, June 11, 2012

NBA Finals: By The Numbers

1 -- The Thunder are making the franchise's first Finals appearance in the Oklahoma City era.

3 -- The Thunder's Kevin Durant has won the NBA scoring title 3 times in his career and the Heat's LeBron James has been named NBA MVP three times.

6 -- OKC's Derek Fisher is vying to win his 6th NBA title and first with a team other than the Lakers. Only Robert Horry and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have won as many as 6 titles with multiple teams.

26 -- Over past two seasons Miami has recorded 26 postseason wins, the most by any NBA team. Second on the list is Oklahoma City with 21.

215 -- The 2012 NBA Finals will have unprecedented global coverage, reaching fans live in 215 countries and territories in 47 languages on their televisions, computers, mobile phones and tablets.

Of the 23 Thunder lineups that have played at least 50 minutes in the playoffs, the unit of Westbrook, Harden, Durant, Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins has been the best offensively, scoring almost 119 points per 100 possessions in 89 minutes together. Next best has been the Miami unit of Mario Chalmers, Wade, James, Shane Battier and Haslem, which has scored just over 112 points per 100 possessions in 92 minutes together.

Fourth-Quarter Strength
Over the course of the postseason, the Thunder have been outscored by 25 points in the first quarter, when they've been their weakest offensively. The Heat have been outscored by four points in the second quarter, when they've been their worst defensively.

Interestingly, both teams have been at their best in the fourth quarter. Miami has been the No. 1 fourth-quarter team in the playoffs, having outscored their opponents by almost 22 points per 100 possessions in the final 12 minutes. And Oklahoma City is right behind them, having outscored their opponents by 17 points per 100 possessions in the fourth.

Home-Court Advantage
Since the NBA switched to the 2-3-2 Finals format in 1985, the team with the first two games at home has won 20 of the 27 series, a winning percentage of .741. When you compare that to a .661 winning percentage (37-19) for the team with home-court advantage in the conference finals (2-2-1-1-1 format) since '85, you see that the Heat have some tough odds to overcome.

Why? Perhaps because it's difficult to beat a Finals-worthy team three times in a row, even at home. Only two of the 27 teams with the middle three games at home -- the 2004 Pistons and 2006 Heat -- have won all three. One other -- the 1995 Rockets -- won the series in a sweep.

If the lower seed can't win all three of their home games, they have to win at least two on the road. The Mavs pulled it off last year. Can the Heat now do what was done to them?

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