The Thunder had eight days off prior to their 29-point demolition of the Los Angeles Lakers (one day of rest) on Monday. The Spurs, who will have had seven days off, open their series Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers (one day of rest).
Is it possible for a team to have too much time off between series? At what point does "rest" lend itself to "rust"? If recent history is any indication, "rust" is overrated.
Over the last 15 seasons, teams with at least seven days off are now a perfect 6-0 against teams with just a single day to recover. What's shocking might not be the perfect 6-0 record, but the fact that the games haven't even been close.
Playoff Games By Teams With 7+ Days Rest - By Opponent Days Rest
The average margin of victory in those six games is nearly 25 points per game. The only one of those six games to be decided by single digits was Game 1 of last year's Western Conference Finals in which the Dallas Mavericks beat the Thunder by nine after leading by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter.
Just how important is that extra day of rest for the team with the quick turnaround? Whereas teams with a week off are perfect when their opponents have just a single day to recover, they are just 5-7 when their opponents have two or more days of rest while averaging 23.5 fewer points per game.
The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that over the last 10 years, there were six series played between one team coming off a sweep and the other off a seven-game series. Five of those six series were won by the team coming off the sweep, with the lone exception being the Orlando Magic's elimination of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.
Clippers-Spurs Key Notes
- The team that wins Game 1 of a seven-game series goes on to win 78.2 percent of the time (337-94, including the 1st Round this year).
- This is their first-ever meeting in the postseason.
- The Spurs are 26-2 at home against the Clippers since drafting Tim Duncan. The .929 win percentage is tied for their third-best at home against any team over that span (27-0 vs Golden State Warriors; 14-0 vs Atlanta Hawks).
- To say these teams have differing levels of success in the postseason would be a drastic understatement. Despite being in the NBA for six fewer seasons, the Spurs have more NBA titles (four) than the Clippers have series wins (three). The Spurs have more than four times as many series wins (34) as the Clippers have playoff appearances (eight).
- Much of the focus will be on the matchup between Chris Paul (third in MVP voting) and Tony Parker (fifth in MVP voting). The two have faced off seven times in the postseason, with Parker winning four times. Paul has enjoyed the statistical advantage, averaging 23.7 points per game and 10.7 assists per game (19.4 PPG, 5.7 APG for Parker).
Statistical support for this story given by NBA.com.