Who’s stepping it up in the NBA Playoffs?

New Orleans Hornets Chris Paul takes a breather during Game 5 of their NBA Western Conference first round playoff basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, California April 26, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

It’s tougher to play better in the postseason because the competition is generally better than the regular season and the games are more intense. That said, there are 26 players (of the 98 who have played at least 90 minutes in the playoffs) that are actually faring better statistically on a per minute basis.

I calculated Efficiency Per Minute for both the regular season (EPMr) and playoffs (EPMp) and took the difference as a percentage of their performance during the regular season. The resulting percentage is the gain (or drop) in their statistical production in the postseason.

Here are 26 players that have stepped up their games in the playoffs:

# Player EPMr EPMp % DIFF
1 Jamal Crawford .362 .517 43%
2 Ron Artest .318 .443 39%
3 Ray Allen .439 .588 34%
4 Derek Fisher .274 .349 28%
5 James Jones .319 .404 27%
6 Jason Kidd .464 .582 26%
7 Trevor Ariza .350 .434 24%
8 Chris Paul .640 .792 24%
9 Quentin Richardson .295 .355 20%
10 Keith Bogans .287 .344 20%
11 Jermaine O’Neal .373 .446 20%
12 Kyle Korver .379 .453 19%
13 George Hill .410 .488 19%
14 Serge Ibaka .578 .685 19%
15 Rajon Rondo .513 .593 16%
16 Marc Gasol .535 .601 12%
17 Danny Granger .507 .557 10%
18 Brandon Roy .368 .398 8%
19 James Harden .457 .487 7%
20 Ty Lawson .508 .537 6%
21 Andre Miller .500 .524 5%
22 Lebron James .737 .771 5%
23 Joakim Noah .607 .631 4%
24 Kevin Durant .640 .655 2%
25 Luol Deng .435 .436 0%
26 Carmelo Anthony .634 .635 0%

A few random thoughts:

— Jamal Crawford can thank his blistering 52% 3PT shooting for his spot atop this list. He hit just 35% on the season.

— Ron Artest isn’t playing outstanding in the postseason, but his play is decent, which is more than we can say about his performance in the regular season. He’s averaging 13-5 on 52% shooting in the postseason after averaging 8-3 on 40% shooting during the season.

— You’ll notice that there aren’t a lot of superstars in the Top 20. That’s because those players typically are great during the regular season which makes raising their games to another level in the postseason even tougher. So Chris Paul’s presence at #8 is that much more impressive. After averaging 16-4-10 on 46% shooting in the regular season, he’s averaging 24-6-12 on 56% shooting against the Lakers.

— Serge Ibaka’s FG% has dropped from 54% in the regular season to 45% in the postseason, but all his other numbers are up. He’s averaging 12-12 with 3.8 blocks per game against the Nuggets.

— Wondering why the Grizzlies are up 3-1 on the Spurs? Credit Marc Gasol more than any other Memphis player. He’s averaging 16-11 on 57% shooting after posting 12-7 on 53% shooting during the regular season. The fact that he’s doing it against a good Spurs defense makes it that much more impressive.

To have winners, you have to have losers, so here are the 25 players whose games have fallen off a cliff in the postseason:

# Player EPMr EPMp % DIFF
98 Mike Bibby .331 .063 -81%
97 Juan Jose Barea .455 .089 -80%
96 Wilson Chandler .463 .185 -60%
95 Hedo Turkoglu .433 .185 -57%
94 Marco Belinelli .322 .145 -55%
93 Ryan Anderson .554 .276 -50%
92 J.J. Redick .344 .172 -50%
91 Amare Stoudemire .669 .343 -49%
90 Raymond Felton .491 .254 -48%
89 Tyler Hansbrough .499 .262 -47%
88 Kendrick Perkins .427 .230 -46%
87 Emeka Okafor .518 .280 -46%
86 Mario Chalmers .329 .209 -37%
85 Thaddeus Young .533 .343 -36%
84 Carlos Boozer .622 .408 -34%
83 Wesley Matthews .401 .264 -34%
82 O.J. Mayo .344 .227 -34%
81 Lamar Odom .610 .420 -31%
80 Joel Anthony .300 .207 -31%
79 Darren Collison .455 .315 -31%
78 Pau Gasol .685 .475 -31%
77 Tony Parker .564 .396 -30%
76 Al Horford .641 .454 -29%
75 Jeff Foster .537 .383 -29%
74 Nicolas Batum .413 .295 -29%

— Wes Matthews deserves some credit. His shooting numbers are actually up in the postseason, but he’s just not getting as many attempts per game, so his EPM numbers are a little misleading.

— It’s not a good sign for the Heat that their two point guards (Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers) are both at the bottom of this list.

— Wilson Chandler is shooting 21% from the field in the playoffs. Ouch.

— When 3PT shooters go cold, things get ugly. That explains why Bibby, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli and Juan Jose Barea are on this list.

A few other notable names: Dwyane Wade (-1%), Russell Westbrook (-1%), Kevin Garnett (-2%), Derrick Rose (-3%), Dwight Howard (-5%), Chris Bosh (-8%), Paul Pierce (-13%), Zach Randolph (-14%), Tim Duncan (-16%), LaMarcus Aldridge (-18%), Manu Ginobili (-18%), Dirk Nowitzki (-19%), Kobe Bryant (-20%), Andre Iguodala (-26%) and Joe Johnson (-27%).

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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