THIS season will be the best in NBA history when it comes to shooting free throws.
NBA free-throw shooting in 2023
Players have never been more accurate from the foul line than they have in recent years — and this year is the best of all. Including the regular season, teams are connecting on 78.2% of their free throws this season.
That’s 0.4% better than the record, set two seasons ago.
While that doesn’t sound like much — less than half a percentage point — it really is. Consider this: If Miami, Boston and Denver somehow combined to miss their next 329 free throws, the NBA would still be on pace for the greatest season ever from the line.
Including playoffs, the NBA’s best season from the foul line was 1973-74, when teams combined to shoot 77.1%. That mark lasted more than 40 years, until the combined free-throw rate was 77.2% in 2016-17.
And each of the last four seasons has been an even better clip than that: Teams shot 77.4% in 2019-20, 77.8% in 2020-21, dipped a bit to 77.5% last season, and are at 78.2% this season.
Boston played host to Game 5 of the East finals on Thursday (Friday, Manila time). If Game 6 is necessary, it would be Saturday in Miami, and a Game 7 — again, if necessary — would be Monday in Boston.
HOW TO WATCH
— The Eastern Conference finals are on TNT.
— All games are scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
— Team broadcasters will no longer air games. Everything after the first round is exclusive to national windows and not available for local telecasts.
— The NBA Finals will be aired on ABC.
Boston is favored by eight points in Game 5 of the East finals, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Heat still remain favored to win the series, and the Nuggets are favored to win the title — no matter if Miami or Boston is the opponent.
Here’s an interesting offering: FanDuel says it’s roughly even money on whether Denver’s Nikola Jokic — who averaged a triple-double in each of the Nuggets’ last two series — will in the NBA Finals. At odds of -120, a $100 wager on Jokic averaging a triple-double would currently return about $183.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
— Boston’s Jayson Tatum has 477 points so far in these playoffs. He’s 23 points away from becoming the 15th player in NBA history to score at least 500 points in two different postseasons. LeBron James has the most such postseasons, with nine.
— Miami’s flight to Boston was delayed on Wednesday. The Heat couldn’t take off because of bad weather, and didn’t deplane in Boston until around 8 p.m. — roughly three hours behind schedule.
— Thursday’s game will be the 106th between the Heat and the Celtics in the last 20 seasons. No two teams have played more during that span; San Antonio has faced Dallas and Memphis 104 times apiece over the last two decades.
“We want to come back to Miami. If that happens, I feel like we’ll feel good about ourselves. The next one should be fun. It should be a big one, and we’ve got to come ready to play.” — Boston’s Jaylen Brown, after the Celtics forced a Game 5 with a win in Miami on Tuesday night.