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When the Pistons won the 2004 NBA title, the NBA’s playoff offense was awful

I created a series of charts for Basketball Prospectus about how the playoffs look compared to the regular season in a dozen factors each year since the NBA playoffs expanded to 16 teams. It’s a premium article, so you need a subscription to see all the charts.

But to give you a sample, here’s offensive rating. The 2004 season, when the Pistons won the title, stands out here especially, but it also is an outlier on several of the other charts, too.

The regular season is blue, and the post season is orange.


  • Apr 22, 201112:02 pm
    by Faraz


    First off, ive been a long time fan of this blog. Best pistons blog in the world.
    I remember watching them throughout that whole season. They really struggled to produce any time of offense. A good portion of their points came from their defense forcing turnovers.
    However, since their offense was so hideous, it just goes to show how amazing their defense was as it translated to a title.

  • Apr 22, 20111:15 pm
    by dan


    Maybe the numbers are lower in part BECAUSE of the Piston’s amazing defense. In 8 games they held teams below 70 points, including a game holding NJ to just 56 points. The Results really don’t seem too surprising given that it was an already defensive league at the time prior to the rule changes.

  • Apr 22, 20111:28 pm
    by Faraz


    yeah, i remember they had a nice streak of shutting teams down  below 70. I think NJ snapped that streak by scoring at the last moment and then started celebrating which led some of the Pistons players to get mad. *sigh*…the good old days

  • Apr 22, 20112:22 pm
    by Mike


    So does the playoff stat get skewed more towards the teams that have deeper runs into the playoffs? Since they are playing more games, then it will reflect more towards the trends of the teams that play the most. So because the Pistons had the longest run, their lack of offense but also really good defense should definitely make 2004 the outlier. I guess I’m a little surprised by how much of an outlier it is, but not surprised that it is the lowest, or that the playoffs are much lower than the regular season that year, since the playoffs contain a higher percentage of Pistons games than the regular season. 2005 still looks lower than average, but nothing like 2004… even though you might expect more Pistons Spurs games to be really low scoring throughout the playoffs.

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