NBA Analysis: A Closer Look at the Best Playoff Offenses Since 1980

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By ElGee

The NBA postseason is not a statistician’s friend, with it’s incredibly small sample and completely unbalanced schedule. As a result, we don’t hear a lot of team-level analysis from the playoffs. And after the popularity of this post over at BBR about the top regular season offenses in NBA history I was curious to see who performed the best in the playoffs.

Take a quick look at that link and you’ll notice that Steve Nash‘s teams are everywhere. The 2007 Suns, by that measurement, were the best NBA offense of ever. The second-best? The 2005 Suns. All told, Nash was the starting PG on seven of the top-20 offenses in history. Magic Johnson had two of his best teams on the list — the 1985 and 1987 Lakers — and Larry Bird‘s 1988 Celtics also made an appearance.

Instead of using z-score for the unbalanced postseason, I’ve ranked the top playoff offenses of the 3-point era (since 1980) by relative offensive efficiency. Teams must have played in a minimum of two series to have qualified. Relative offensive efficiency is the team’s offensive performance compared to its defensive environment – in this case, the average regular season defensive rating of its playoff opponents. Below are the results...

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