The NBA Playoffs is a completely different animal than the regular season. Defenses are tighter, game-play is slower, and games are closer. When this occurs, anything can happen. We saw the Cavaliers upset a Warriors team that was 73-9 in 2016, last year a veteran Los Angeles Clippers team was upset by a young Utah Jazz team in its first post-season appearance since 2012.
These upsets were caused by supporting players failing to step up when the defensive attention was placed elsewhere. In 2016 it was Harrison Barnes, who averaged just 9.3 points on 35.2% shooting and 31.0% from three in 31.7 minutes per game.
In 2017, it was Chris Paul‘s back court teammates J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Austin Rivers who failed to step up. The Clippers were up 2-1 on Utah, and Blake Griffin got hurt. Instead of scrapping it out and stepping up to the moment, those three shot a combined 17/59 in all three subsequent Clipper losses – 28.8% from the field. If the right players don’t step up to the moment, then their teams will fail in the playoffs. Here are the players who need to step up this season for their teams:
Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner
Turner in Wins: 13.7 PPG, 50.0% FG, 41.9% 3P, 1.15 PPP, 1.03 PPPA
Turner in Losses: 12.9 PPG, 47.2% FG, 29.6% 3P, 1.04 PPP, 1.14 PPPA
Turner hasn’t been a poor player this season, in fact he’s one of the best players for a team that has defied expectations to get the four seed in preparation for the Playoffs. His role on the team has just been less significant than most thought it would be. Clearly, a key piece to the Pacers winning games this season has been Turner’s three point shot falling. The 41.9% in wins from deep exceeds the league average considerably, whereas the 29.6% in losses is very inefficient. Turner’s three point shot can draw opposing big men out to the perimeter, space the floor, and allow the Pacers to run pick and pop sets with their guards. For the Pacers to have a chance, they need Turner to be hitting his shots.