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Clippers, Bucks separate themselves when adjusting for playoff rotations

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 06: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers drives around Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at Fiserv Forum on December 06, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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Bojan Bogdanovic played 2,083 minutes for the Jazz this season. Injured, he won’t be in Utah’s playoff rotation.

Clint Capela played 1,279 minutes for the Rockets this season. Traded to the Hawks, he won’t be in Houston’s playoff rotation.

Meyers Leonard played 1,034 for the Heat this season. Demoted from the starting lineup, he probably won’t be in Miami’s playoff rotation.

Most postseason projections account for a full season of results. But teams’ identities can shift significantly by the playoffs. What does it matter now how the Jazz played with Bogdanovic, the Rockets with Capela, the Heat with Leonard?

So, I measured team performance when the entire five-man lineup is comprised of players projected to be in the playoff rotation.

It’s only one data point among many that should be considered, and there are plenty of shortcomings. Playoff rotations can be difficult to predict. Individual laying time in the narrowed sample might not be commensurate with postseason minutes. Opponent quality varies. Some sample sizes are small.

Still, I find it a useful indicator of the effectiveness and chemistry of players who’ll actually be on the court in the playoffs.

Here are each team’s offensive, defensive and net ratings from NBA WOWY adjusted from the regular season to counting only lineups that include five players projected to be in the playoff rotation:

Eastern Conference

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Offensive rating: 112.1 to 113.7

Defensive rating: 102.6 to 98.5

Net rating: +9.5 to +15.2

7. Brooklyn Nets

Offensive rating: 108.8 to 123.2

Defensive rating: 109.3 to 113.4

Net rating: -0.5 to +9.8

2. Toronto Raptors

Offensive rating: 110.4 to 112.2

Defensive rating: 104.3 to 102.9

Net rating: +6.1 to +9.3

3. Boston Celtics

Offensive rating: 112.5 to 114.6

Defensive rating: 106.3 to 107.3

Net rating: +6.2 to +7.3

6. Philadelphia 76ers

Offensive rating: 111.0 to 111.5

Defensive rating: 108.6 to 104.6

Net rating: +2.4 to +6.9

5. Miami Heat

Offensive rating: 112.1 to 111.1

Defensive rating: 109.1 to 109.2

Net rating: +3.0 to +1.9

4. Indiana Pacers

Offensive rating: 109.3 to 108.9

Defensive rating: 107.4 to 108.7

Net rating: +1.9 to +0.2

8. Orlando Magic

Offensive rating: 107.7 to 111.8

Defensive rating: 108.7 to 114.2

Net rating: -1.0 to -2.4

Western Conference

2. L.A. Clippers

Offensive rating: 113.6 to 124.7

Defensive rating: 107.3 to 105.8

Net rating: +6.3 to +18.9

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

Offensive rating: 110.6 to 119.5

Defensive rating: 108.6 to 106.1

Net rating: +2.0 to +13.4

1. Los Angeles Lakers

Offensive rating: 112.0 to 115.8

Defensive rating: 106.3 to 105.7

Net rating: +5.7 to +10.1

4. Houston Rockets

Offensive rating: 112.2 to 116.9

Defensive rating: 109.4 to 107.1

Net rating: +2.8 to +9.8

7. Dallas Mavericks

Offensive rating: 116.4 to 117.9

Defensive rating: 111.4 to 115.0

Net rating: +5.0 to +2.9

8. Portland Trail Blazers

Offensive rating: 112.9 to 117.3

Defensive rating: 114.1 to 116.9

Net rating: -1.2 to +0.4

3. Denver Nuggets

Offensive rating: 112.6 to 115.6

Defensive rating: 110.4 to 117.3

Net rating: +2.6 to -1.7

6. Utah Jazz

Offensive rating: 111.8 to 106.4

Defensive rating: 109.3 to 112.5

Net rating: +2.5 to -6.1


  • The Clippers and Bucks look ready to contend.
  • The Lakers obviously have the top-end talent with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but they must find the right combination of back-end rotation players to take off. That might mean significantly narrowing the rotation, though Frank Vogel said he wouldn’t do that yet.
  • The Nets made a huge jump, but I wouldn’t read much into that. Their sample size is tiny with so many regular-season regulars now out.
  • The 76ers obviously lost a lot of talent with Ben Simmons getting injured, but they still have some lineups that work. Enough to challenge the Celtics? Maybe. Boston invites more uncertainty by turning to Robert Williams over Enes Kanter off the bench.
  • The Heat appear set to bench Leonard, who was part of some effective units. That’s probably the right move, though it doesn’t play well here.
  • The Pacers miss Domantas Sabonis.
  • Rockets-Thunder looks like an awesome series. Even without Russell Westbrook (whom I excluded here), Houston can find lineups that have been successful, though there is concern about putting too big of a load on James Harden. Oklahoma City doesn’t look quite as strong without banged-up Luguentz Dort (whom I included here), but both teams should still be formidable.
  • Not so much for the Nuggets and Jazz. Denver really suffers without injured Will Barton and Gary Harris, especially defensively. Utah probably won’t be as bad as indicated here, but excluding Bogdanovic (not returning) and Mike Conley (returning at some point) removes many of the Jazz’s most reliable units. Conley returning from the birth of his child would go a long way toward stabilizing Utah.
  • The Mavericks and Trail Blazers can be so good offensively. But both, especially Portland, give back so much on the other end.