2011-12 NBA Playoffs


Last season, I showed how the NBA pushed the Miami Heat into the NBA Finals then hung them out to dry, all through the use of free throws. Will this year show a similar trend? Or will we see some shenanigans related to the point spread and under/over totals?

All odds taken from VegasInsider.com

KEY: Blue indicates favorite covered, red underdog won (black is a push). Blue game was over, red under. Bold game free throw differential is greater than 14 attempts. Certain line movements are noted due to the notion that a 3 point line move in an NBA game is considered significant by professional gamblers.

West Conf. - First Round

Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs

Game 1 - SAS -11.5, O/U 206. JAZZ: 23 of 30 SAS: 20 of 28

Game 2 - SAS -11, O/U 203. JAZZ: 20 of 23 SAS: 10 of 10

Game 3 -  SAS -5.5, O/U 200.5. JAZZ: 14 of 26 SAS: 17 of 22

Game 4 - SAS -7.5, O/U 199.5. JAZZ: 17 of 26 SAS: 21 of 30

SAS wins 4-0. Totals - JAZZ: 74 of 102, SAS: 68 of 90

Dallas Mavericks vs. OKC Thunder

Game 1 - OKC -8, O/U 192.5. DAL: 20 of 25 OKC: 17 of 20

Game 2 - OKC -6.5, O/U 193.5. DAL: 28 of 32 OKC: 37 of 39

Game 3 - DAL -3, O/U 193.5. DAL: 20 of 26 OKC: 11 of 17

Game 4 - OKC -2 (opened DAL -2), O/U 193. DAL: 21 of 24 OKC: 16 of 20

OKC wins 4-0. Totals - DAL: 89 of 104, OKC: 81 of 96

Denver Nuggets vs. LA Lakers

Game 1 - LAL -5 (opened -8), O/U 203.5. DEN: 20 of 27 LAL: 11 of 15

Game 2 - LAL -6 (opened -3.5), O/U 202.5. DEN: 16 of 22 LAL: 16 of 21

Game 3 - DEN -3, O/U 205. DEN: 19 of 23  LAL: 20 of 25

Game 4 - DEN -2, O/U 202. DEN: 7 of 12 LAL: 9 of 18

Game 5 - LAL -6, O/U 197. DEN: 21 of 27 LAL: 20 of 26

Game 6 - DEN -1.5, O/U 197. DEN: 9 of 17 LAL: 22 of 30

Game 7 - LAL -5.5, O/U 195. DEN: 10 of 14 LAL: 15 of 23

Lakers win 4-3. Totals - DEN: 92 of 142 LAL: 113 of 158

LA Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Game 1 - MEM -5 (opened -2), O/U 184. LAC: 17 of 23 MEM: 11 of 18

Game 2 - MEM -7 (opened -1), O/U 184.5. LAC: 13 of 18 MEM: 31 of 39

Game 3 - LAC -3, O/U 184.5. LAC: 13 of 30 MEM: 30 of 39

Game 4 - LAC -1.5, O/U 182.5. LAC: 28 of 40 MEM: 21 of 27

Game 5 - MEM -6.5, O/U 183. LAC: 21 of 29 MEM: 28 of 34

Game 6 - MEM -2 (opened LAC -2), O/U 178.5. LAC: 16 of 25 MEM: 17 of 27

Game 7 - MEM -7.5, O/U 176.5. LAC: 18 of 23 MEM: 22 of 31

Clippers win 4-3. Totals - LAC: 126 of 188 MEM: 160 or 215

East Conf - First Round

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Chicago Bulls

Game 1 - CHI -9, O/U 175. PHI: 24 of 31 CHI: 17 of 24

Game 2 - CHI -6.5 (opened -9), O/U 176. PHI: 12 of 15 CHI: 10 of 18

Game 3 - CHI -1 (opened PHI -1.5), O/U 177. PHI: 26 of 33 CHI: 14 of 23

Game 4 - PHI -3, O/U 172. PHI: 22 of 31 CHI: 11 of 14

Game 5 - CHI -5, O/U 171.5. PHI: 17 of 24 CHI: 4 of 11

Game 6 - PHI -3.5, O/U 170. PHI: 15 of 20 CHI: 16 of 21

PHI wins 4-2. Totals - PHI: 116 of 154 CHI: 72 of 111

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat

Game 1 - MIA -9, O/U 188. NYK: 10 of 11 MIA: 24 of 33

Game 2 - MIA -10 (opened -7.5), O/U 186. NYK: 13 of 19 MIA: 19 of 27

Game 3 - MIA -5.5, O/U 186.5. NYK: 22 of 29 MIA: 18 of 22

Game 4 - MIA -7.5 (opened -4.5), O/U 184. NYK: 20 of 29 MIA: 24 of 35

Game 5 - MIA -12, O/U 183. NYK: 18 of 21 MIA: 29 of 34

MIA wins 4-1. Totals - NYK: 83 of 109, MIA: 114 of 151

Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers

Game 1 - IND -9.5, O/U 193. ORL: 8 of 11 IND: 13 of 22

Game 2 - IND -9.5, O/U 187.5. ORL: 16 of 19 IND: 25 of 28

Game 3 - IND -3 (opened at ORL -8), O/U 184. ORL: 9 of 18 IND: 15 of 20

Game 4 - IND -5, O/U 179.5. ORL: 22 of 28 IND: 17 of 20

Game 5 - IND -10 (opened -6.5), O/U 179.5. ORL: 12 of 19 IND: 10 of 14

IND wins 4-1. Totals - ORL: 67 of 96, IND: 80 of 104

Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks

Game 1 - ATL -1, O/U 179. BOS: 10 of 13 ATL: 14 of 21

Game 2 - ATL -4.5, O/U 173. BOS: 26 of 31 ATL: 16 of 20

Game 3 - BOS -8 (opened -4), O/U 173.5. BOS: 22 of 25  ATL: 12 of 15

Game 4 - BOS -6, O/U 172. BOS: 8 of 13 ATL: 13 of 17

Game 5 - ATL -1.5, O/U 179.5. BOS: 12 of 15 ATL: 12 of 14

Game 6 - BOS -6.5, O/U 173.5. BOS: 19 of 24 ATL: 9 of 10

BOS wins 4-2. Totals - BOS: 95 of 121 ATL: 76 of 97

A few notes on Round 1: Compared to last year's playoffs, the differential in free throw attempts was not as dramatic. Though last year saw nine games with a free throw attempt differential of 10-14 attempts and this year had 11, the 2011 playoffs saw seven games in the first round with a team awarded 15 or more free throws than their opponents. This year saw just three, with the most egregious being Game 1 between the Heat and the Knicks  and Game 2 between Memphis and the Clippers (which was also coupled with a six point line movement).

Prior to their semifinals matchup, the Pacers accused the Heat of "flopping" to get calls. In the Heat's series vs. the Knicks, Miami was awarded 42 more free throw attempts than New York. But the Heat weren't alone in getting the calls. The 76ers had 43 more attempts than the Bulls and the Grizzlies (in a losing effort) got to the charity stripe 37 more times than the Clippers. The other five series did not show such dramatic differences.

Lastly, the beginning of this article about the Lakers getting past the Nuggets by Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review Journal should make fans stop and think. Youmans wrote, "Oddly enough, no officiating hijinks were needed this time to help the glamour team advance. Just as odd, the fourth quarter was not all about Kobe Bryant sinking an array of circus shots. The Los Angeles Lakers put away the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday night, and the major storylines did not include controversy or Kobe. The better team won, fair and square. That's not always the case in the NBA playoffs, which pro wrestling fans have mocked as a scripted farce. Without working his officials like puppets, commissioner David Stern still got what he wanted."

West Conf. Semifinals

Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs

Game 1 - SAS -11, O/U 191. LAC: 9 of 13 SAS: 17 of 21

Game 2 - SAS -10.5, O/U 194. LAC: 17 of 23 SAS: 11 of 17

Game 3 - SAS -5, O/U 191.5. LAC: 9 of 18 SAS: 17 of 25

Game 4 - SAS -7.5 (opened -3.5), O/U 191. LAC: 13 of 19 SAS: 20 of 27

SAS wins 4-0. Totals - LAC: 48 of 67 SAS: 65 of 90

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Game 1 - OKC -8, O/U 193. LAL: 13 of 15 OKC: 24 of 29

Game 2 - OKC -8, O/U 196. LAL: 13 of 14 OKC: 13 of 16

Game 3 - LAL -3, O/U 195. LAL: 41 of 42 OKC: 26 of 28

Game 4 - OKC - 1 (opened LAL -1), O/U 188.5. LAL: 21 of 29 OKC: 21 of 25

Game 5 - OKC -7.5, O/U 191. LAL: 20 of 26 OKC: 19 of 25

OKC wins 4-1. Totals - LAL: 108 of 126 OKC: 103 of 123

East Conf. Semifinals

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics

Game 1 - BOS -5.5, O/U 171. PHI: 14 of 20 BOS: 18 of 19

Game 2 - BOS -4.5, O/U 175. PHI: 15 of 21 BOS: 7 of 9

Game 3 - PHI -2, O/U 171.5. PHI: 17 of 22 BOS: 22 of 28

Game 4 - PHI -2, O/U 174. PHI: 25 of 36 BOS: 16 of 19

Game 5 - BOS -5.5, O/U 173. PHI: 10 of 16 BOS: 26 of 33

Game 6 - PHI -1, O/U 175.5. PHI: 17 of 28 BOS: 20 of 23

Game 7 - BOS -6, O/U 172. PHI: 14 of 20 BOS: 20 of 22

BOS wins 4-3. Totals - PHI: 112 of 163 BOS: 129 of 153

Indianapolis Pacers vs. Miami Heat

Game 1 - MIA -8.5, O/U 186.5. IND: 20 of 28 MIA: 29 of 38

Game 2 - MIA -7, O/U 185.5. IND: 19 of 27 MIA: 20 of 29

Game 3 - MIA -2, O/U 180.5. IND: 20 of 23 MIA: 13 of 18

Game 4 - MIA - 2, O/U 179.5. IND: 20 of 24 MIA: 20 of 28

Game 5 - MIA -6.5, O/U 181.5. IND: 17 of 23 MIA: 20 of 29

Game 6 - MIA -3, O/U 182. IND: 19 of 24 MIA: 16 of 20

MIA wins 4-2. Totals - IND: 115 of 149 MIA: 118 of 162

Notes on Round 2: Game 3 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder was fixed for the Lakers to win. The NBA did not want to see them go down 3-0. Instead, the Lakers were given 42 free throws of which they only missed one. Those 41 points from the line equated to 41% of their final score of 99 points. Even with this help (and the Lakers were sent to the line 10 times in the final 2 minutes), the Thunder only lost by three.

The NBA wouldn't help the Lakers again, nor would it assist the Los Angeles Clippers in their quick four-and-out series versus the Spurs. Could it be the NBA tossed the NHL a bone? As both the Lakers and Clippers bowed out, the Los Angeles Kings reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 19 years. Maybe the NBA cleared the way for the NHL to shine in the City of Angels. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman did once serve as the NBA's #3 man under NBA Commissioner David Stern. Something to consider.

The Boston Celtics - Philadelphia 76ers series saw the 76ers were pushed into winning a questionable Game 4, tying the series at 2-2. A 17 attempt advantage over the Celtics allowed the 76ers to cover easily. Yet in Game 5, the tables were turned and the Celtics were given 17 extra attempts from the line, allowing them to cover and go ahead 3-2 on their way to beating the #8 seed in seven games.

As for the Miami Heat, the Indianapolis pre-series complaining worked. The Heat didn't seem to get their usual preferential treatment and struggled in six games. Strangely it was the Heat who complained about the officiating. Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was fined $25,000 for criticizing the officials once the series ended. I'm sure things will go back to normal for them in the Conference Finals.

Western Conf. Finals

San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder

Game 1 - SAS -5.5, O/U 204.5. SAS: 17 of 25 OKC: 19 of 23

Game 2 - SAS -4.5, O/U 203. SAS: 23 of 35 OKC: 29 of 36

Game 3 - OKC -4, O/U 206. SAS: 11 of 15 OKC: 16 of 17 (This was the first time this playoff season that the Spurs were not favored, and they lost the game outright with both Duncan and Parker sitting out the last 15 minutes or so)

Game 4 - OKC -3.5, O/U 201.5. SAS:10 of 16 OKC: 16 of 21

Game 5 - SAS -5, O/U 202. SAS: 26 of 31 OKC: 20 of 23

Game 6 - OKC -5, O/U 204. SAS: 14 of 18 OKC: 25 of 31

OKC wins 4-2. Totals - SAS: 101 of 140 OKC: 125 of 151

Eastern Conf. Finals

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat

Game 1 - MIA -8.5, O/U 179. BOS: 11 of 21 MIA: 16 of 23 (BOS was called for 4 technical fouls)

Game 2 - MIA -8, O/U 177. BOS: 26 of 29 MIA: 31 of 47

Game 3 - MIA -2.5, O/U 181. BOS: 20 of 26 MIA: 10 of 20

Game 4 - MIA -2 (opened BOS -1.5), O/U 180. BOS: 14 of 20 MIA: 17 of 24

Game 5 - MIA -8, O/U 179. BOS: 22 of 27 MIA: 19 of 25

Game 6 - MIA -2, O/U 181. BOS: 14 of 20 MIA: 17 of 22

Game 7 - MIA -7.5, O/U 178.5. BOS: 12 of 15 MIA: 20 of 27 (LeBron had more free throw attempts - 17 - than the entire Celtics roster)

MIA wins 4-3. Totals - BOS: 119 of 158 MIA: 130 of 188

Notes on Round 3: Interesting how both series played out. In the OKC-SAS series, the Spurs went up 2-0, then lost the next four. In the MIA-BOS series, the Heat went up 2-0, then pulled it out in Game 7. After two 2-0 starts where both losing teams were considered done, each staged a comeback and tied their respective series at 2-2 prior to the end results. Made for somewhat compelling television. Game 6 of the BOS-MIA series (when most fans I'm guessing were hoping to see LeBron & Co. get knocked out) was the highest rated NBA playoff game since records were first kept, dating back to 2003. In fact, ratings for the Eastern Conference Finals were up over 40 percent from those of last year's Western Conference Finals. The lockout that shortened the season apparently did not affect America's appetite for playoff hoops.

Forbes is already predicting the Heat-Thunder match up, with all of its compelling storylines, will beat the ratings for last year's NBA Finals. Would a Spurs-Celtics Finals have brought in the same numbers?

NBA FINALS

Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Game 1 - OKC -5.5, O/U 195.5. MIA: 14 of 18 OKC: 20 of 27

Game 2 - OKC -5.5, O/U 196. MIA: 22 of 25 OKC: 19 of 26

TV ratings are already up 12 percent over last year, with Game 2 being the 2nd highest rated game in ABC history.

Game 3 - MIA -4, O/U 193.5. MIA: 31 of 35 OKC: 15 of 24

Game 4 - MIA -3, O/U 193. MIA: 18 of 25 OKC: 15 of 16

Game 5 - MIA -3.5, O/U 194. MIA: 27 of 33 OKC: 23 of 26

MIA wins 4-1. Totals: MIA: 112 of 136 OKC: 92 of 125

Notes: The following video was taken during Game 5, the clincher for the Heat. Is it really proof of anything? I don't know. But it isn't proper behavior from someone paid to be neutral and objective.


Though the Heat didn't appear as "pushed" to the Finals as they were in 2011, they were still on the good end of many beneficial calls from the referees. On average throughout the playoffs, the Heat scored 20.6 points on 27.7 free throw attempts per game compared to 17.8 points on 23.5 attempts per game for their opponents. It doesn't help things when LeBron James, this "champion" of the NBA, is a grown man who flops better than some WWE wrestlers: