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What to know about the NBA’s post-season

AP – Zach LaVine has an Olympic gold medal. What he doesn’t have is NBA playoff experience.

At last, that part is about to change. No active NBA player has been in more regular-season games without making his playoff debut than LaVine, who has appeared in 478. He’s expected to play in his first playoff game when the Bulls visit Milwaukee.

EIGHT IS (USUALLY) ENOUGH

Phoenix won eight games more than any other team this season. That usually means a championship.

Not always, though. The last four teams to have at least eight more wins than any other team in the regular season have gone on to win a title.

Giannis Antetokounmpo can win his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award. PHOTO: AP

PLAYOFF MONEY

The NBA has set this season’s playoff pool at USD17,317,334. All 16 playoff teams are guaranteed USD258,449 just for making the field and the deeper teams go in the playoffs, the more they’ll make.

Phoenix is already assured at least USD1,194,952 and would claim USD5,077,456 if they win the NBA title. Miami has secured USD695,527 already and would get USD4,578,031 if they win the championship.

Any team that makes the NBA Finals is guaranteed USD3,106,286; any team other than the Suns or Heat that wins the championship would receive at least USD4,140,953.

BEST EVERYWHERE

Phoenix had the NBA’s best home and road record this season – 32-9 in both instances.

Four of the last nine teams to pull off that feat went on to win the NBA title – Golden State in 2015 and 2017, the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 and the Chicago Bulls in 1996.

MILESTONE WATCH

Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers is on the cusp of becoming the fifth coach in NBA history to win 100 post-season games. The 76ers need just two wins to get Rivers to the milestone.

The other coaches with 100 wins: Phil Jackson (229), Pat Riley (171), Gregg Popovich (170) and Larry Brown (100). Miami’s Erik Spoelstra can also get to 100 playoff wins this year – he enters these playoffs with 85 post-season victories.

Among players, Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant is three points shy of matching Jerry West (4,457) for eighth on the all-time playoff list and needs 307 to tie number seven Karl Malone (4,761) on that list.

FAVORED TEAMS

Utah was favoured in more games than any other team this season, picked by oddsmakers 73 times in the 82-game regular season.

BACK TO BACK

If Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo wins his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award he would join select company.

Only six players have won that award in consecutive years. Chicago’s Michael Jordan did it on two separate occasions. Shaquille O’Neal won three in a row for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hakeem Olajuwon won for two in a row for Houston, Kobe Bryant did for the Lakers, LeBron James did for Miami, and Kevin Durant did it for Golden State.

THREE’S WIN

As one might guess, it’s difficult to make up a significant disparity in three-pointers made. Teams that were outscored by 15 or more points from three-point range this season won only 20.8 per cent of the time – going 94-348 in those contests.

IGUODALA’S FAREWELL

Golden State’s Andre Iguodala has said he is retiring when this season ends. He wanted to go back to the Warriors for a farewell, and the Warriors welcomed him back.

No player in this year’s playoffs has played, counting actual appearances only, in more post-season wins than Iguodala’s 103.

THE REFEREES

Tom Washington is working the NBA playoffs for the 24th time and Scott Foster was selected as part of the post-season referee corps for the 22nd time.

There are three playoff newcomers: Eric Dalen, Mitchell Ervin and Justin Van Duyne.

The NBA also selected eight alternates – including Lauren Holtkamp. If picked for a game, Holtkamp would join Violet Palmer as the only female referees to work a post-season.

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