Round 1 in Review

With the Spurs' anticlimactic victory over the Mavs, the first round of the NBA playoffs has finally come to an end. 50 games, 5 game 7's, and an average excitement index of 6.6 (compared to a regular season average of 5.9). Here is the first round in review:

Dame the first round MVP by just about any measure

By a significant margin, Damian Lillard is the MVP of the first round, with +1.94 Win Probability Added (WPA), a good +0.7 better than his next closest competition, Vince Carter. Lillard also leads in expected WPA, which is like WPA, but stripped of game context. It's effectively a measure of the quality of a player's box score stats. Lillard was also the top player in clutch WPA (clWPA), which measures how much excess WPA a player added by performing in clucth situations. See my post on Measuring Clutch Play in the NBA for more background.

As if that wasn't enough, Lillard also leads in my "kitchen sink WPA" stat, which adds up WPA contributions for all box score stats (i.e. standard WPA + blocks + steals + assists + rebounds). Lillard's +4.09 kWPA narrowly beats out teammate Nicolas Batum's +4.05 total.


His team may have survived the Grizzlies, but Russell Westbrook wears the first round "cone of shame", with -0.63 WPA, driven by costly turnovers and mediocre shooting. Ignoring turnovers and just focusing on shooting, Pero Antic had the worst first round, with -0.33 tsWPA (true shooting WPA).

Dwight Howard had a very strong series, but it should come as no surprise that he had the worst WPA from the free throw line, with -0.26 ftWPA.

Top Games

The top 7 games in terms of excitement index (how much the win probability graph travels over the course of a game) belong to just two series: Rockets-Trailblazers and Grizzlies-Thunder. Here are the top 10 games by excitement index:

game excitement comeback
POR 122 HOU 120 13.5 75.9
HOU 120 POR 123 11.1 6.9
OKC 92 MEM 89 10.7 11.9
MEM 100 OKC 99 10.6 1.2
MEM 111 OKC 105 10.4 1.9
HOU 121 POR 116 10.2 4.5
HOU 98 POR 99 10.2 13.5
GSW 109 LAC 105 9.6 1.9
SAS 108 DAL 109 9.5 12.0
WAS 101 CHI 99 9.4 10.0

The top game in excitement index also happens to be the biggest comeback. The Trailblazers were 76 to 1 to win the game down by 10 with 3:58 to go, before pulling off an overtime victory.

Onwards to round 2....
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