By the Numbers: Celtics (2) vs. Cavaliers (4)
NBA.com Global on May 13, 2018 02:37 PM
FILE - BOSTON, MA - MAY 17: Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
While the Western Conference finalists reached this round in pretty standard fashion, the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers have each traveled a non-standard path.
The Celtics and Cavs each needed seven games to get through the first round. And then they got through the conference semifinals with relative ease. The Celtics dispatched the Philadelphia 76ers (who had previously looked like the best team in the East) in five games, while the Cavs swept the No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors.
Their strange paths set the stage for their second straight meeting in the conference finals. The Cavs won last year's series in five games, but both teams are very different than they were 12 months ago.
This series features an offense of LeBron James and shooters vs. the No. 1 defense of the regular season. But it may be determined on the other end of the floor, where both teams have had their issues.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Eastern Conference finals, with links to let you dive in and explore more. Game 1 is Sunday (early Monday, PHL time).
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Boston Celtics (55-27, 8-4)
First round: Beat Milwaukee in 7 games.
Conf. semis: Beat Philadelphia in 5 games.
Pace: 95.5 (13)
OffRtg: 106.9 (7)
DefRtg: 105.8 (7)
NetRtg: +1.1 (7)
Celtics playoff notes - General:
1. Have outscored their opponents by 2.8 points per game at the free throw line, the best differential in the playoffs.
2. Both the Celtics (5-2) and Cavs (6-1) have played seven games that were within five points in the last five minutes, most in the postseason.
3. 7-0 at home, where they've been 17.7 points per 100 better than they've been on the road.
4. Only of the four remaining teams that hasn't won a game by at least 20 points.
Celtics playoff notes - Offense:
1. Have scored 1.1 more points per 100 possessions in the playoffs (106.3) than they did in the regular season (105.2). Indiana (plus-0.5) is the only other playoff team that saw (or has seen) an increase in OffRtg from the regular season.
2. Leading 3-point shooting team among the four that remain at 36.0 percent.
3. Lineup of Rozier, Brown, Tatum, Morris and Horford has scored 129 points per 100 possessions in its 61 minutes, the best mark among 17 lineups that have played at least 50 minutes in the playoffs.
4. Rank last in the playoffs with just 2.8 points per game from pick-and-roll ball-handlers.
5. Have had possession for 47 percent of their games, the highest rate in the playoffs, according to Second Spectrum tracking. Only the Cavs (12.6) have averaged more shots in the last four seconds of the shot clock than the Celtics (11.4).
6. Rank 13th offensively (97.3 points per 100 possessions) in the first half of games and second (116.3) in the second half.
7. Rank 14th in the playoffs in player movement (5.8 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession) and fifth in ball movement (322 passes per 24 minutes of possession), according to Second Spectrum tracking.
8. Only 12 percent of their possessions have been in transition, the second lowest rate in the playoffs.
Celtics playoff notes - Defense:
1. Only of the four remaining teams that has allowed more points per 100 possessions in the playoffs (105.8) than it allowed in the regular season (101.5).
2. Ranked 15th in opponent effective field goal percentage in the first round (56.1 percent) and first in the conference semifinals (47.3 percent).
3. Ranked first in defensive rebounding percentage in the first round (grabbing 85.3 percent of available defensive boards) and last in the conference semifinals (71.3 percent).
4. Have allowed just 0.78 points per possession on isolations, tied for the lowest rate in the playoffs.
Celtics playoff notes - Individuals:
1. Aron Baynes has an effective field goal percentage of 60 percent, up from 47 percent in the regular season. That's the fifth biggest jump among 82 players with at least 300 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs. He's made more than twice as many 3-pointers in these playoffs (9) as he's made in his 376-game, regular-season career (4).
2. Jaylen Brown has had an effective field goal percentage of 75 percent in the third quarter, the best mark among players with at least 25 third-quarter field goal attempts in the playoffs.
3. Al Horford is the only player who ranks in the top five in points per game scored as a roll man (fourth at 4.1) and on post-ups (fourth at 5.6) in the playoffs. He has shot 28-for-43 (56 percent) on post-ups, the best mark among players with at least 20 post-up field goal attempts.
4. Horford has a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 0.356, up from 0.159 in the regular season. That is the second biggest jump among 82 players with at least 300 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs. Marcus Smart (from 0.258 to 0.392) has seen the fifth biggest jump among that same group.
5. Smart (39.2 percent) and Marcus Morris (41.3 percent) have two of the three worst effective field goal percentage marks among 85 players with at least 50 field goal attempts in the playoffs.
6. Semi Ojeleye ranks last in the playoffs (among players that have played at least 100 minutes) in usage rate. He has taken just 7.7 percent of the Celtics' shots while he's been on the floor, the lowest rate among players who have played at least 100 minutes in the playoffs.
7. Terry Rozier leads the postseason with 38 total 3-pointers and is one of seven players who have averaged at last five catch-and-shoot points and at least five pull-up points per game in the playoffs.
8. Rozier has an effective field goal percentage of 77.9 percent in the fourth quarter, the second best mark for any player in any quarter (minimum 25 field goal attempts) in the playoffs. His 28 points scored in the clutch are second to James' 32. His four clutch 3-pointers (on only five attempts) are tied with Kyle Korver for most in the playoffs.
9. Rozier (18.2 in the playoffs, 11.3 in the regular season), Jayson Tatum (18.8, 13.9) and Horford (17.0, 12.9) are three of 10 players who have averaged at least four more points per game in the playoffs than they averaged in the regular season.
10. Smart has committed turnovers on 15.3 percent of his possessions, the fifth highest rate in the postseason and the highest among players on teams that are still playing.
11. Tatum has shot 31 percent from 3-point range, down from 43 percent in the regular season. That's the second biggest drop-off among players with at least 100 3-point attempts in the regular season and at least 30 in the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32, 8-3)
First round: Beat Indiana in 7 games.
Conf. semis: Beat Toronto in 4 games.
Pace: 93.2 (15)
OffRtg: 110.0 (3)
DefRtg: 108.4 (10)
NetRtg: +1.6 (5)
Cavs playoff notes - General:
1. Have the lowest point differential (plus-1.5 points per game) among the four teams remaining. Six of their eight wins have been by four points or fewer. That's tied for the most playoff wins by five points or fewer since the 1991 Lakers had seven.
2. Have been on either end of the two biggest point differentials in the playoffs, beating the Raptors by 35 in Game 4 of the conference semis and losing to Indiana by 34 in Game 6 of the first round.
3. Most-used lineup - Hill, Smith, Korver, James and Love - didn't play together at all in the regular season and is a plus-41 in 110 minutes, having scored 126 points per 100 possessions. All other lineups have been outscored by 25 points in 423 minutes, having scored 106 per 100.
4. Rank last in the playoffs in aggregate bench NetRtg (minus-9.2 points per 100 possessions).
Cavs playoff notes - Offense:
1. Scored 18.5 more points per 100 possessions in the conference semifinals (121.5) than they did in the first round (103.0). The second biggest jump in OffRtg from the first round to the conference semis was that of Boston, just 1.9 points per 100 possessions.
2. Only team that has been better than the league average in each of the offensive four factors in the playoffs.
3. Had two of the best shooting games of the playoffs (effective field goal percentages of 66.7 and 66.1 percent) and two of the lowest turnover rates of the playoffs (3.3 and 5.8 per 100 possessions) in the Toronto series.
4. Rank first offensively (115.2 points per 100 possessions) in the first half of games and 14th (105.2) in the second half).
5. Have averaged 12.6 shots per game in the last four seconds of the shot clock, most in the playoffs.
6. One of two teams that has shot better than 70 percent in the restricted area.
7. Rank 13th in the playoffs in player movement (5.8 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession) and 15th in ball movement (270 passes per 24 minutes of possession), according to Second Spectrum tracking.
8. Lineup of Hill, Smith, Korver, James and Love has an effective field goal percentage of 66 percent, the best mark among 17 lineups that have played at least 50 minutes in the playoffs.
Cavs playoff notes - Defense:
1. Only of the four remaining teams that allowed more points per 100 possessions in the conference semifinals (110.1) than they allowed in the first round (107.4).
2. Have allowed their opponents to take 38 percent of their shots from the restricted area, the second highest rate in the playoffs.
3. Have allowed 28.9 points per game from 3-point range, most among the four teams still playing.
4. Have drawn 11 charges (one per game), most in the postseason.
Cavs playoff - Individuals:
1. Jordan Clarkson has shot just 5-for-25 from 3-point range, the worst mark among players with at least 25 3-point attempts. Clarkson's effective field goal percentage of 35 percent is the worst mark among players with at least 50 field goal attempts and is down from 51 percent in the regular season. That's the biggest effective field goal percentage drop among 82 players who took at least 300 shots in the regular season and have taken at least 50 in the playoffs.
2. Jeff Green has taken 51 percent of his shots from 3-point range, up from 28 percent in the regular season. That is the second biggest jump (to only that of Aron Baynes) among 82 players who took at least 300 shots in the regular season and have taken at least 50 in the playoffs.
3. The Cavs have been outscored by 18.7 points per 100 possessions with Rodney Hood on the floor. That's the lowest on-court mark for NetRtg among players who have averaged at least 15 minutes for a team that's still alive in the postseason.
4. LeBron James leads the playoffs points per game(34.3), free throw attempts per game (10.0), triple-doubles (2), fouls drawn per game (8.6), secondary assists per game (1.5), and points scored in the clutch (32).
5. James leads the postseason with 14.4 points per game scored in the restricted area and ranks second with 16.0 points in the paint per game.
6. James ranks third in the playoffs at 9.0 assists per game and is one of five players responsible for more than half of their team's assists while they've been on the floor. He has 47 assists on 3-pointers, eight more than any other player.
7. James ranks second in the playoffs with 9.2 isolation possessions per game. His 1.12 points per possession on isolations ranks fifth among 21 players who have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game.
8. The Cavs have scored 16.3 more points per 100 possessions with James on the floor (112.4) than they have with him off the floor (96.1). That is the biggest on-off OffRtg differential among players who have played at least 100 playoff minutes for the four team that are still alive.
9. Kyle Korver has shot 46 percent from 3-point range, the best mark among players with at least 50 3-point attempts in the playoffs. Korver has taken 80 percent of his shots from 3-point range, the highest rate among 85 players with at least 50 total field goal attempts in the playoffs. Korver and J.R. Smith have taken just six percent and nine percent of their shots in the restricted area. Those are the two lowest rates among that same group.
10. Kevin Love ranks fourth in the postseason (and first among players on teams that are still playing) in defensive rebounding percentage, having grabbed 30.0 percent of available defensive boards while he's been on the floor.
11. Smith has averaged just 3.80 miles per hour on offense, the slowest speed among players who have played at least 20 minutes per game.
12. Tristan Thompson leads the postseason in offensive rebounding percentage, having grabbed 16.4 percent of available offensive rebounds while he's been on the floor. His nine offensive rebounds in Game 1 at Toronto are the most in a game this postseason.
Regular season matchup
Season series: Cavs won 2-1 (1-1 in Boston)
Oct. 17 (Oct. 18, PHL time) @ Cleveland - Cavs 102, Celtics 99
Jan. 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time) @ Boston - Celtics 102, Cavs 88
Feb. 11 (Feb. 12, PHL time) @ Boston - Cavs 121, Celtics 99
Pace: 101.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes
Boston OffRtg: 97.9 (25th vs. Cleveland)
Cleveland OffRtg: 102.4 (15th vs. Boston)
1. The first meeting was the first game of the season, with Gordon Hayward suffering his season-ending ankle injury less than six minutes into the first quarter. The second meeting (Boston's only win) was the second game of a back-to-back for Cleveland.
2. The first two meetings were before the trade deadline, when Cleveland overhauled its roster. Kevin Love missed the third meeting and no Cavs lineup played in more than one game against Boston.
3. Kyrie Irving played in all three games for Boston. Marcus Smart missed the third meeting.
4. The Celtics scored less than a point per possession in all three games. Only the Phoenix Suns (44.6 percent) had a lower effective field goal percentage against the Cavs this season than the Celtics did (47.6 percent).
5. The Celtics shot 51 percent (22-for-43) from mid-range. The Cavs shot 30 percent (17-for-57).
6. Terry Rozier shot 8-for-17 (47 percent) from 3-point range vs. Cleveland. All other Celtics shot 22-for-89 (25 percent).
7. Semi Ojeleye shot 1-for-11 (0-for-9 from 3-point range) and was a season-series worst minus-28 in 56 minutes.
8. Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith each shot 6-for-10 from 3-point range vs. Boston. All other Cavs shot 17-for-64 (27 percent).
9. Kevin Love shot 5-for-20 (1-for-8 from 3-point range). His effective field goal percentage of 27.5 percent was his lowest mark against any opponent that he played more than once. His primary defender (64 of 96 possessions) was Al Horford.
10. The Celtics three most-used lineups vs. Cleveland - Irving, Jaylen Brown and Horford with a combination of Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum - were a plus-17 in 45 total minutes. All other Boston lineups were outscored by 28 points in 99 minutes.
11. Al Horford played just 10 of his 85 minutes at power forward (with Aron Baynes, Greg Monroe or Daniel Theis on the floor). The Celtics were outscored by eight points in those 10 minutes and were a plus-10 in 75 minutes with Horford at center.
12. The Celtics were 14.0 points per 100 possessions worse offensively and 15.2 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Baynes on the floor than they were with him off the floor.
13. Brown (57 possessions) and Morris (55 possessions) split the LeBron James assignment evenly. James shot about the same vs. both, but the Cavs scored more efficiently when Morris was James' primary defender.
14. James was the primary defender on Brown, and Brown shot 5-for-22 (including 0-for-11 from 3-point range) on those possessions.
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