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Top stats to know: NBA playoffs

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This is what they're playing for.

The NBA playoffs begin this weekend with four games Saturday and four more on Sunday.

Let’s get you ready for the next two months with a list of our top stats to know heading into the postseason.

Heat trends point to a title

The Miami Heat enter the playoffs as the unquestioned favorites and will look to become back-to-back champions.

Won 66 Or More Games in Regular Season

Only five NBA franchises have ever pulled off a repeat championship: the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Rockets and Pistons. LeBron James, the runaway MVP favorite, can also be the first player with MVP and NBA titles in back-to-back seasons since Michael Jordan’s first two titles in 1991 and 1992.

Of the 12 previous squads to win 66 or more games in the NBA regular season, nine went on to win the championship that season.

The Heat finished with the third-best winning percentage by a defending NBA champion in league history, trailing only two of Michael Jordan's Bulls' teams from the 1990s and ahead of two of Bill Russell's Celtics' teams from the 1960s.

Each of those four other teams went on to defend the title successfully, a goal the Heat hope to accomplish over the next several weeks.

Lakers-Spurs foreshadowing

In the Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant eras for each franchise, the Lakers and Spurs have met in the playoff six times.

Each time, the winner has gone on to reach the NBA Finals. Four of the six times, the winner has gone on to an NBA championship. The Lakers are 4-2 against the Spurs in those playoff series, winning four of the past five.

This is the first time during those eras that the teams are meeting in the first round. And we could see something else new this year -- none of those series lasted seven games.

The Spurs will be making their 16th consecutive postseason appearance, the longest active streak in the NBA.

Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will be making their 11th straight postseason appearance as teammates.

Celtics, Knicks recent histories are opposites

This marks the sixth straight playoff appearance for the Celtics. In each of their previous five appearances, they advanced past the first round. The Knicks, meanwhile, haven’t won a playoff series since 2000. New York is 3-15 in its past four playoff appearances.

Carmelo Anthony’s teams are just 2-9 in playoff series, both of those wins coming in 2009 when the Nuggets made it to the Western Conference finals before losing to the Lakers in six games. Anthony is 1-8 in playoff games in his Knicks career.

Coaching legends abound

The coaching in this postseason features three coaches with at least 60 career playoff wins: Gregg Popovich, George Karl and Doc Rivers.

Highest Playoff Win Pct
Active Coaches

Popovich trails only Phil Jackson and Pat Riley for most career playoff coaching wins.

The field also features three coaches that have won titles: Popovich (4), Rivers (1) and Erik Spoelstra (1).

The only other active coach who has won a title is Rick Carlisle, whose Mavericks missed the playoffs this season.

The value of Round 1, Game 1

How important is Game 1 in the first round of the NBA playoffs? The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that since the first round was expanded to a best-of-seven format in 2003, the team that won Game 1 went on to win 61 of 80 series (76 percent).

Teams that won Game 1 at home won 51 of 58 first-round series (88 percent) and teams that won Game 1 on the road won 10 of 22 series (45 percent).

One example of this: The Chicago Bulls are 19-5 all-time in best-of-seven series when winning Game 1. When losing a Game 1 of a best-of-seven, they’re just 6-15. On the other hand, the Brooklyn Nets are 7-2 all-time in best-of-seven series when winning Game 1. They are just 1-5 in best-of-7s when losing Game 1.