Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards

NBA playoffs 2018: With East series tightening up, each team still holds one key weakness

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Wizards guard John Wall and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (Getty Images)

We survived the second weekend of the NBA playoffs, and surprisingly enough, so did every Eastern Conference entrant.

The only bunch left in peril as we enter Week 2 of the postseason is Miami, which blew a 12-point second-half lead on Saturday to fall behind the Sixers, 3-1. All other East series are tied at two games, an early indication that predictions of a raucous and unpredictable road to the Finals through the conference were accurate.

But what we've seen through 16 playoff games is that all eight East teams have been severely let down by some facet of their game and in some cases - like the Toronto bench and the Celtics' defense - they are facets that were strengths in the regular season.

Raptors: The bench

Regular-season numbers: No. 1 in the NBA in bench plus/minus, at plus-3.6

Postseason numbers: No. 16 among playoff teams in bench plus/minus, at minus-5.4

Maybe Fred VanVleet was the key cog in the Raptors bench mob all along. He has been out with a shoulder injury, limited to just three minutes on the floor in the series, and the Toronto bench has not been the same without him.

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The reserves have not been bad on the offensive side, and were especially good in Game 1, but they've committed too many turnovers. The Raptors reserves turned over the ball just 13.4 percent of the time in the regular season, which was fifth in the league. They're 13th in the playoffs, though, with a 15.5 turnover percentage. And defensively, they're getting killed - a 113.1 defensive rating, after posting a rating of 103.4 in the regular season.

Celtics: The defense

Regular-season numbers: No. 1 in the NBA in defensive rating (101.5)

Postseason numbers: No. 15 among playoff teams in defensive rating (113.9)

The Celtics are thin, they're banged-up and they're relying on bench players who have not seen the kind of minutes they're getting now. While that was expected to force them into some scoring difficulty, the real problem has been slowing down the Bucks, especially in an area in which the Celtics have excelled this year: spot-up shooting.

The Bucks were a below-average spot-up team all year, creating 1.00 points per possession with those shots, but against the Celtics, that has ballooned to 1.28 points per possession, making Milwaukee a suddenly ultra-efficient spot-up team. During the season, the Celtics had been the most efficient spot-up defense in the league, allowing 0.95 points per possession.

76ers: Guarding the 3-point line

Regular-season numbers: No. 2 in the NBA, 34.2 percent 3-point shooting allowed

Postseason numbers: No. 14 among playoff teams, 42.7 percent 3-point shooting allowed

There's an aspect of luck, of course, to 3-point defense, but the Sixers usually do a good job of forcing tough perimeter shots and getting the right players to attempt shots from beyond the arc. But the Heat have been able to convert on 3-pointers, with six players shooting better than 38.5 percent on those shots.

James Johnson, Tyler Johnson and Kelly Olynyk have combined to shoot 18-for-29 (62.1 percent) from the 3-point line, bolstering a team that was subpar (36.0 percent) from the 3-point line during the season.

Cavs: The new guys

Regular-season numbers: 42.0 points per game, 46.8 percent shooting, 36.7 percent 3-point shooting

Postseason numbers: 25.0 points per game, 51.3 percent shooting, 27.3 percent 3-point shooting

The Cavaliers made a bet at the trade deadline on the quartet of Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and George Hill, with the hope that two months would be enough to get them ironed out on the Cavs' offense and what would be expected of them in the postseason. So far, the bet's not paying off.

Nance has done well in his energy-off-the-bench role, but the other three simply must be better shooters from the arc in order for the Cavs to get back to the Finals. Especially distressing has been Hood, who was averaging 16.8 points when he arrived from Utah, but has slowly disappeared since. He played just 14 minutes in Game 4.

Pacers: The pick-and-roll

Regular-season numbers: No. 9 in the NBA in pick-and-roll ball handler efficiency (0.87 points per possession), run on 18.3 percent of possessions

Postseason numbers: No. 16 among playoff teams in pick-and-roll ball handler efficiency (0.66 points per possession), run on 14.5 percent of possessions

Credit coach Nate McMillan with moving away from the pick-and-roll in the Pacers' series against the Cavaliers because it has not been working. The Pacers were among the best pick-and-roll teams in the league during the season, but they've been the worst in the playoffs, and, surprisingly, the struggles of Victor Oladipo are not to blame.

He, in fact, is at 1.13 points per possession as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll, 10th among postseason players who get more than 10 percent of their possessions from the play. The real culprits have been Lance Stephenson (0.42 points per possession, down from 0.81 in the regular season) and Darren Collison (0.57 PPP, down from 0.98).

Heat: The fourth quarter

Regular-season numbers: No. 8 in the NBA, plus-0.7 points per fourth quarter

Postseason numbers: No. 16 among playoff teams, minus-10.5 per fourth quarter

The Sixers have outscored the Heat in every fourth quarter in this series, and with the exception of Game 2, have dominated the final period. The Sixers shoot 49.4 percent in the fourth to just 40.7 percent for the Heat, and Miami has been outrebounded, 13.3 to 9.3.

Ben Simmons (6.8 points) and Dario Saric (6.5) are among the top 12 in the playoffs in fourth-quarter scoring. Wayne Ellington, Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow rank among the bottom eight in shooting in the fourth quarter, and they have combined to go 6-for-22 from the field (27.3 percent).

Bucks: Second-chance points

Regular-season numbers: No. 22 in the NBA, allowing 13.1 second-chance points

Postseason numbers: No. 16 among playoff teams, allowing 19.3 second-chance points

The Bucks were not a great team in the regular season when it came to cutting off second-chance points, but the Celtics were not exactly a force on the offensive glass, either. Boston averaged 12.0 second-chance points, which was 16th, and ranked 20th in the NBA in offensive rebounding at 9.4 per game.

But the Bucks are giving up 13.3 offensive rebounds per game, and they have been outscored in second-chance points, 77-23. One difference that cropped up in the two games in Milwaukee: The Celtics shot just 10-for-29 (34.5 percent) on second-chance opportunities, after shooting 17-for-24 (70.8 percent) in the two games in Boston.

Wizards: Rebounding

Regular-season numbers: 14th in the NBA in rebounding percentage (50.3), ninth in offensive rebounding (23.5)

Postseason numbers: 12th among playoff teams in rebounding (47.9 percent), 14th in offensive rebounding (16.7)

The Wizards were a good rebounding team in the regular season, especially on the offensive boards, where they were able to create 12.3 second-chance points per game. But their offensive rebounding percentage has dropped by 6.8 percentage points, and their second-chance points have fallen to 10.5 per game, which ranks ninth among playoff teams.

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