NBA playoffs: Western Conference first-round matchups by the numbers

By E.Jay Zarett 12 April 2019 13
NBA playoffs: Western Conference first-round matchups by the numbers

Reigning champions the Golden State Warriors seem likely to reach the NBA Finals once again.

Golden State are the two-time defending champions and have won three of the last four titles.

The Warriors earned top spot in the Western Conference in 2018-19 and open the playoffs as favourites to hang a third straight banner.

But, the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder all could give Golden State a challenge. All of those teams, however, will have to survive tough matchups in the opening round.

Here is a breakdown of all the first-round clashes in the west by the numbers thanks to Opta.


Warriors v Clippers

— The Warriors finished the season with a true shooting percentage of 59.6 per cent, more than a full percentage point better than any other team.

— The Los Angeles Clippers clearly have the best second unit in the league. They average 53.2 bench points, which is the most of any NBA team since 1996-97.

— The Warriors beat Los Angeles in three of their four matchups during the regular season. They held the Clippers to just 33.8 per cent shooting over the four games.


Nuggets v Spurs

— This is a series that could be tough for the second-seeded Nuggets. Denver and the San Antonio Spurs split their season matchup, with the home team winning every game.

— Nuggets center Nikola Jokic became just the fourth player in NBA history to average 20 or more points, 10 or more rebounds and seven or more assists in a season. Russell Westbrook, Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson are the only three others who have ever put up those numbers.

— The Spurs have made the playoffs in an incredible 22 straight seasons, which ties them for the longest such streak in NBA history. They last missed the postseason in 1996-97.


Trail Blazers v Thunder

— The Portland Trail Blazers may hold the third seed, but they lost to the Thunder in all four of the teams' matchups this season. Oklahoma City averaged 128 points in those games.  

— Paul George had his best career season for Oklahoma City. Since January 1, only James Harden (38.2) has averaged more points than the Thunder star. In total, George finished 2018-19 tallying 28 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He also added 2.2 steals per appearance.

— Portland definitely have a home-court advantage. They went 32-9 at the Moda Center this season, tied for the third-best home record in the league.


Rockets v Jazz

— Harden set multiple NBA records this season. He also became the first player ever to average 12 or more three-point attempts over an entire season.

— The Rockets will have their work cut out for them if they want to keep the Utah Jazz off the glass. Utah grabbed 80.3 per cent of available defensive rebounds, tied for the best percentage in the NBA.

— Jazz center Rudy Gobert proved himself on both ends of the floor in 2018-19. He is just the second player in franchise history to average 15 or more points, 12 or more rebounds and 2 or more blocks in a season.

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E.Jay Zarett