The NBA Playoffs are underway and Game 1 was full of excitement.
I know there are lots of things to say about the first round of the NBA playoffs, but that is only one. I just want to make two points:
1) the number of fouls called in Game 1 is higher than those called in other games, and
2) the number of fouls called in Game 1 is higher than those called in other games.
The first point is a simple result from my own experience. When I was playing college basketball, I was trying to avoid fouls by having a high pace and taking a few aggressive second shots. This was a good strategy for me because it made getting into foul trouble less likely. And when my team got into foul trouble, we would often call a timeout and take our time back out on the court. In fact, once we started playing with the tempo we wanted after taking our time out (we had some success with this), we were able to do some great things (and still do).
But in the playoffs, teams are playing much slower and right now there are very few players who can play at that pace — especially by having strong defensive teams like Chicago. So if they get into foul trouble with their aggressive second shots, they have to play more passively (and more heavily rely on their defense). This has been done through tactics like “stopping everything else” or “not calling anything” or “calling nothing until it’s too late”… all tactics that have worked fine while they were working well but don’t work well now that they have taken a toll on their teams from being so heavily dependent on defensive play.
Finally, let me say you could be right about this little nugget about how many people are watching these playoffs. But you could also be wrong: I haven’t seen any research that tells me for certain but I did find (from other sources) an interesting study from last summer which found that only 23% of American households have cable TV as opposed to 41% who don’t watch TV regularly (the latter figure includes low-income households). So if most people had cable TV instead of watching TV daily anyway, then maybe it wouldn’t matter so much what people watched during these games — but as it stands today it doesn’t seem likely you would be correct.
Highlights from Game 1: What happened in the game that had everyone talking?
Last night’s game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers was the first of what will likely be many in this series. It would be quite a story if OKC won, but that would be almost impossible. So let’s talk about what we know about the game.
The most obvious thing was that OKC was missing star point guard Russell Westbrook, who had to go home to be treated for a torn ACL in his left knee, which doesn’t sound all that serious, but if it had been an ACL tear you’d think he could have popped back into the lineup after two or three weeks of rest. But even though he wasn’t on the floor last night, OKC was still able to win by ten points and rise to 2-0 in series play against a team they absolutely dominated in Game 1.
The second thing I noticed that wasn’t mentioned much last night were a few pretty remarkable plays by Kevin Durant (and possibly Russell Westbrook as well). Durant scored some huge numbers of his own but this one is special because it came after a foul call on one of his teammates:
It didn’t look good when it was happening (the referee called a foul on Westbrook for going above Durant) but I think we can all agree that it would have been worse if it had been called on Durant at the time (he is just too good at making those accurate passes) and if he hadn’t done so well from there to make up for it in this game (many of them actually looked better than they would have otherwise). He also showed off some nice moves during this play as well as some great hustle plays.
Oklahoma City also scored over 50 points in Game 1 and held LA to just 38 points total — a marked improvement over their Game 1 performance where they managed just 30 points overall. They went up to 111-74 at halftime, then carried it into the third quarter before finally falling back down to 59-48 at half time. In other words they are getting back into rhythm now — not just with how they played offensively but with how they defend as well. No wonder Coach Budenholzer has said he expects them to turn things around after losing their first two games of the season!
Buzz around the NBA Playoffs: What are people saying about the upcoming games?
Are the number of fouls called in NBA Playoffs Game 1 higher than the other games? There’s been a bit of discussion on Twitter and Reddit about this, but it is still relatively unknown.
What do we know? It is known that the previous game, which was played at a neutral venue, saw a higher number of fouls called. The same can be said for a number of other games too, though not as much.
It’s not clear how much impact the media coverage has on these numbers. There are certainly times when there are more fouls called than in the other games (the Warriors-Celtics game on April 22nd was one example). The presence of broadcast television may also play a role here. But without any hard data to test these hypotheses (which may be impossible given that every game is televised), it’s just speculation until we have some hard facts to base our beliefs on.