Who's got legs? Or, put more specifically, which teams are in shape and which ones will be dragging their baggy trunks along the floor by April? We figured that performance at the end of games is a good measure of conditioning, so we compared each team's shooting percentage during the first three quarters of games this season to its shooting percentage in the fourth quarter. Eight teams have shot better in the final quarter, but only two of them have shown a marked improvement (more than 1.8%). One is Milwaukee, which jumps from 43.4% to 47.5% in the last 12 minutes. Bucks coach George Karl would no doubt attribute this to superior coaching. But how to explain the Clippers, who improve from 40.4% to 45.5%? A cynic would say it's easy to shoot when you're down by 25 and playing against scrubs. But we'd like to put a different spin on it: Finally, the Clippers lead the league in a positive stat. Believe it or not.
Here are the teams with the biggest dropoff in fourth-quarter shooting this season, for games through March 11. Draw your own conclusions.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]