Numbers preview: The Finals

VIDEO: The Starters preview The Finals

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers each made history in reaching The Finals.

Since the NBA starting counting turnovers in 1977, no team had made The Finals after leading the league in pace — like the Warriors did — or after ranking as low as 20th in defensive efficiency — like the Cavs did — in the regular season. That’s 37 years of trends that have been bucked, in two different ways.

These are special teams. Statistically, the Warriors are the best team we’ve seen since the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, outscoring their opponents by 11.4 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. The Cavs, meanwhile, have fought through a myriad of changes (via trades and injuries) to get here, improving defensively along the way.

And the Cavs have been statistically better, both offensively and defensively, than the Warriors in the playoffs, even when you account for weaker competition. Cleveland has better marks in adjusted efficiency (taking their opponents’ regular season marks) on both ends of the floor.

This is also a matchup of the MVP and the world’s best player, the two guys who lead the league in postseason usage rate. Stephen Curry and LeBron James won’t be guarding each other and have very unique games, but some of their playoff advanced stats are very similar.


Curry has been the more efficient scorer, while James has provided more for his team on defense and on the glass. Curry has the deeper supporting cast, but James has been here before.

When this series is done, he’ll either be 3-3 or 2-4 in The Finals, and either the Cavs will have their first championship or the Warriors will have their first one in 40 years.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Finals, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Golden State Warriors (67-15)

First round: Beat New Orleans in four games.
West semifinals: Beat Memphis in six games.
West finals: Beat Houston in five games.
Pace: 96.6 (6)
OffRtg: 107.3 (2)
DefRtg: 98.9 (4)
NetRtg: +8.4 (2)

Regular season: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Cleveland: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
Playoffs: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups




Warriors playoff notes:

  1. They are the best shooting team of the playoffs, with an effective field goal percentage of 52.8 percent. They’re also the only team with an effective field goal percentage of better than 50 percent from outside the paint.
  2. 35.8 percent of their shots have been 3-pointers, the highest rate in the postseason and up from 31.1 percent in the regular season. The Cavs are right behind them at 35.6 percent.
  3. Have committed 15.7 turnovers per 100 possessions, the highest rate in the playoffs.
  4. Average of 21.6 fast break points per game leads the postseason.
  5. Have averaged 8.1 secondary assists per game, most in the playoffs.
  6. 56-0 (9-0 in the playoffs) when leading by at least 15 points at any point in a game.
  7. Have set 42.1 ball screens per game, the fewest in the playoffs, according to SportVU.
  8. But Draymond Green has set 228 ball screens (36 percent of the Warriors’ total) for Stephen Curry, the most any player has set for a teammate in the playoffs, according to SportVU. The Warriors have scored 1.20 points per possession with that ball-screen combo, the third best mark among 36 combinations with at least 50 ball screens.
  9. Curry has made 28 more 3-pointers than any other player. He leads the postseason in both pull-up (79) and catch-and-shoot (86) 3-point attempts. He’s 12-for-13 from the left corner.
  10. The Warriors outscored their opponents by 13.0 points per 100 possessions with Green on the floor, and have been outscored by 8.5 with him on the bench. That differential of 21.5 points per 100 possessions is the biggest on-off-court NetRtg differential of any player that has played at least 200 playoff minutes, even though they were better with him on the bench in the conference finals.
  11. 93 percent (74/80) of Green’s jump shots have been uncontested, according to SportVU, the highest mark among players who have attempted at least 50 jumpers. But he has made just 19 (26 percent) of the 74, the second worst mark (ahead of only Marc Gasol) among players who have attempted at least 50 uncontested playoff jumpers.
  12. Andre Iguodala‘s assist-turnover ratio of 6.38 (51/8) is the best among players who have played at least eight playoff games (two rounds).
  13. Iguodala (80 percent), Harrison Barnes (76.9 percent) and Andrew Bogut (73.9 percent) all rank in the top five in field goal percentage in the restricted area (minimum 25 attempts).


Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29)

First round: Beat Boston in four games.
East semifinals: Beat Chicago in six games.
East finals: Beat Atlanta in four games.
Pace: 93.0 (16)
OffRtg: 108.6 (1)
DefRtg: 98.5 (3)
NetRtg: +10.1 (1)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Golden State: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
Playoffs: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups




Cavs playoff notes:

  1. Have held their opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 45.1 percent, the lowest rate in the postseason. They’re the only team that has held its opponents under 30 percent from 3-point range.
  2. Best offensive rebounding team in the playoffs, having grabbed 28.5 percent of available offensive boards.
  3. Best first half team in the playoffs, outscoring their opponents by 15.2 points per 100 possessions.
  4. Have scored 1.27 points per possession in transition, the best mark of the playoffs.
  5. Have attempted 23.9 percent of their (initial possession) shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock, the highest rate of the postseason, according to SportVU. James (81) has attempted 27 more shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock than any other player.
  6. The Cavs have scored 111.5 points per 100 possessions with J.R. Smith on the floor. They’ve allowed just 92.9 points per 100 possessions with Timofey Mozgov on the floor. And they’ve outscored their opponents by 13.8 points per 100 possessions with Iman Shumpert on the floor. Those are all the best marks among players who have played at least eight playoff games (two rounds).
  7. Tristan Thompson has grabbed 13.4 percent of available offensive rebounds, the best rate among players who have played at least eight playoff games (two rounds). Mozgov ranks third at 12.1 percent.
  8. James leads the playoffs with 140 isolation possessions. He has shot 32.5 percent on those isolation possessions and 48.1 percent on other shots.
  9. James has an effective field goal percentage of just 23.0 percent on pull-up jump shots, the worst mark among players who have attempted at least 50, according to SportVU. He has shot 5-for-45 on pull-up threes and 21-for-97 on pull-up, 2-point jumpers.
  10. James leads the playoffs with 14.7 drives per game.
  11. James has rebounded 78.9 percent of his rebound chances, the best mark among players with at least five rebound chances per game.
  12. James’ postseason usage rate of 36.4 percent is the highest of his career. It has been 34.1 percent in the first three quarters of games and 43.4 percent in the fourth. His usage rate has also increased in each round, from 31.8 percent in the first round to 38.1 percent in the conference semifinals and 39.1 percent in the conference finals.
  13. Kyrie Irving has an effective field goal percentage 80.2 percent on uncontested jump shots, the best mark among players who have attempted at least 25, according to SportVU. He has shot 6-for-12 on uncontested 2-point jump shots and 19-for-31 on uncontested threes.


The matchup

Season series: Series tied 1-1 (home team won both games).
Jan. 9: Warriors 112, Cavs 94
Feb. 26: Cavs 110, Warriors 99

Pace: 99.1
GSW OffRtg: 106.7 (9th vs. CLE)
CLE OffRtg: 102.8 (5th vs. GSW)

Matchup notes:

  1. Neither James nor Iman Shumpert played in the first meeting. No Cavs lineup played in both games and their current starting lineup — Irving, Shumpert, James, Thompson and Mozgov — played just 1.3 minutes together in the second one.
  2. James scored 42 points on an effective field goal percentage of 68 percent and was a plus-9 in his 36 minutes.
  3. The Cavs threw 3.39 passes per possession in the loss (without James), but just 2.56 in the win (with James).
  4. The Warriors recorded 67 assists in the two games. The Cavs recorded 28.
  5. Against all opponents, the Cavs took 32 percent of their shots from the restricted area. That number was just 19 percent (14/73) with Bogut on the floor and 26 percent against Golden State overall. Only the Kings (20 percent) allowed Cleveland to shoot a lower percentage of its shots from the restricted area than the Warriors did.
  6. The Warriors shot 9-for-16 on corner threes. The Cavs shot 2-for-12.
  7. Irving shot 3-for-16 in the paint and 12-for-24 from outside the paint.
  8. Green shot 9-for-9 in the restricted area and 0-for-10 from 3-point range. He was one of seven players who attempted at least 10 threes against a regular-season opponent without making one.
  9. David Lee‘s 27 total points were the most he scored against any Eastern Conference opponent.
  10. The Cavs scored less than 80 points per 100 possessions in 25 minutes with Iguodala and Shaun Livingston on the floor together for Golden State.


  1. NorCal Warrior says:

    Too much ISO ball by the Cavs and JR is not going to have the room that he did against the Hawks. The Hawks played terrible D and nothing inside. Warriors are going to run them ragged as long as we control the turnovers, especially in the 1st half. If Lebron fell to the floor, exhausted and all against the Hawks, oh boy, the bubbles from his Sprite will have to do instead of confetti from a championship. It’s okay though, they had a good year. That is something

  2. Cavsfan Mike says:

    No one stops Lebron from penetrating the middle, Josh. No one!

  3. Pode says:

    Cavs is a also a team with a great Star player(Lebron), Cavs will win it all. 4 – 0.

  4. Rolly says:

    I will not double team Lebron.I will give him a space to shoot bec. He is not a shooter. You stop Lebron to penetrate by giving him space. The only option he got is to shoot. If he give the ball to his teammates they are not free to shoot. Percentage is the game. Warriors in 4.

  5. harry says:

    leave it to them.. lets all watch the finals.

  6. Joshua Clark says:

    From a true basketball fan to another. The best player in the world (Lebron) but every body is sleeping on the best pure shooter/defender in the world (Stephen Curry). Lebron couldn’t carry the Miami heat team by himself against the spurs in the finals last year so what makes you think he can do it this year against a Team that moves the ball around, I don’t hate lebron, but honestly he is overrated because he is no way better than mj and mj couldn’t carry his bulls team by himself to when those 6 NBA championship rings that he got. Now my prediction is Warriors in either game 5 or 6 or 7. Reasons why ball movement comes into play, home court advantage comes into play, and tempo comes into play. Fact out of the legend mouth, even one superstar needs a team to win a championship, not one individual can win it. Look at all the greats who had other teammates helping them out. Shaq had Kobe, mj had pippen& Dennis rodman, Larry bird had jerry west and there bench, even Isaiah Thomas had the bad boys team with them when they won the ship, wade had shaq then lebron, and lebron had wade. PS who do lebron have now since Irving is hurt, curry got his whole team from starters to bench warmers to role players, GSW team goes deep real deep warriors in game 5 or 6 or 7

  7. oten bilat says:

    CAVS WIN!!!! 4-0

  8. Supermarky says:

    They have always said that teams, not individuals win championships. Please, stop that nonsense already. We’ve heard that since LBJ was in Miami. Cavs in 5 or 6

  9. Mark from Bay area says:

    GSW is better than Cavs in every measure.
    In what way Cavs can beat GSW?
    Cavs fans can only say one thing “LeBron”.

    I respect your superstar, but GSW will sweep your frozen brains. LOL

    • Isac says:

      Golden State Warriors (67-15)

      First round: Beat New Orleans in four games.
      West semifinals: Beat Memphis in six games.
      West finals: Beat Houston in five games.
      Pace: 96.6 (6)
      OffRtg: 107.3 (2)
      DefRtg: 98.9 (4)
      NetRtg: +8.4 (2)

      Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29)

      First round: Beat Boston in four games.
      East semifinals: Beat Chicago in six games.
      East finals: Beat Atlanta in four games.
      Pace: 93.0 (16)
      OffRtg: 108.6 (1)
      DefRtg: 98.5 (3)
      NetRtg: +10.1 (1)

      I don’t respect your ability to do math.

      • Chef Curry says:

        East teams are not as good as West teams, GSW had a harder playoff run (but they didnt have to run into clippers or spurs). So your stats arent as equivalent as they look

  10. boyet says:

    cavs wins! n 6! just relax! leave it to lbj!

  11. Jshearin says:

    Firstly, for all of the idiots that think Cavs can win in 4 or 5, u know nothing about ball. If u really think that a team that has not lost 3 games in a row all year won’t adjust ur crazy!!!

  12. nel says:

    GSW game 1 by 5 pts.

  13. Ryan Patterson says:

    LeBron hasn’t been the entire Cavs team this postseason, but he’s been darn close to it. Check out this cool article on appreciating The King:

  14. Paul says:

    The only way GSW looses if LBJ can use effectively his experience against the Warriors. Match-ups, no doubt GSW has the advantage. But trying to recall 2012 Finals OKC Vs. Miami, Thunders were out-experienced and that can happen in this series. Other than that, Warriors in 7.

  15. alex says:

    delly all the way


    won’t b as easy as we think for none of those teams. i will go with cavs in 6 or 7 because the lebron’s cavs seem to be most able to adjust to any offense with cavs defense. it seems as if the coaching staff are better than we think. who ever wins will become legend. who ever wins will deserve it. james cavs is not as strong as curry’s team but they seem to find a way.

  17. oice says:

    cavs in 6!

  18. NBAfan says:

    LeBron seems out of character with his low efficiency this postseason, hes carrying a big load for the Cavs, his high rate of ISO plays when hes missing more than he makes will play right into GSWs hands, I’m sure he’s aware of it and he’ll try to include his teammates more.
    This could be a lot like last years finals, sure the Warriors don’t have the finals experience yet, but they play the same style as the Spurs, they’ve emulated their beautiful offensive system and with their talented roster made history this season.

    Its hero ball vs team ball! let the finals begin!!

    • Smell the champagne says:

      First , they say the Hawks is the Spurs of the east, now it’s the warriors… Tsk..tsk..tsk..

  19. Justbeingrealistic says:

    They can guard lebron but doesn’t mean u can stop him, they can slow him down doesn’t mean u can beat him… Now, if all this 3 to 4 guys line up to guard lebron play defense like butler ,then warriors on 5 max on 6….

  20. dedefr says:

    The only way the Cavs win is in 7, Warriors are too good at home. Which is why the Warriors will win in 5 or 6. Home court advantage plus 4 or 5 guys they can put on LeBron without sacrificing much, the MVP in Curry, and a brilliant head coach, easily gives them the edge. LeBron is great, but I don’t trust the defense, his supporting cast isn’t great (Irving is hurt, everyone else is 6th or 7th men), and he will wear down at points during this series.

    • Justbeingrealistic says:

      Did you u know that the cavaliers is the no.1 defensive team in postseason?

  21. sloanatix says:

    Dubs in game 5 or 6

  22. Joseph says:

    paul what you will say if lebron and the cavs can win this series.
    I really i can’t understand, why so much people hate lebron james

  23. Paul says:

    So many LeBron bandwaggoners here thinking that Cavs gonna win in 5 or 6, haha this is just ridiculous. LeBron is the sole best player of this matchup (and playoffs for that matter), and Tristan Thompson is the best rebounder. However, GSW has a way better and deeper squad, and they have guys capable of guarding LeBron. Warriors are a TEAM, Cavaliers right now are a 1 man show (LeBron), Warriors should win in 5-6, I’d be very surprised if this thing goes to 7.

  24. Ronald Allan says:

    Cavs is a strong team. But I still believe that Dubs can beat them. I predict GSW in game 7.

  25. ronan says:

    cavs on 6

  26. harriethehawk says:

    It will be a great series and I/m so curious to see if Lebron can continue to carry his team straight to a title. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

  27. Kila says:

    Cavs are about to find out that beating teams in the East is a cakewalk compared to what’s on the West. Lebron will of course give them a game or 2 but it’s still a team game and we have better players throughout the squad, I think the bench will be key, along with Barnes, Iggy, and Draymond wearing out Lebron. Dubs in 6!

  28. juancho says:

    golden state warriors is 2015 nba champion warriors in 6

  29. huzeif larry says:

    hey all cavs out there get a popcorn and relax!!!the king’s got no worries!!!I got the cavs in 5 games Go cavs!!!Go cavs!!!!Go cavs

  30. B Ball Lover says:

    P.S. – The Warriors better hope Klay Thompson gets to play or else they are in deep trouble. GSW gonna need Klay!!!!

  31. B Ball Lover says:

    Experience means alot in the championship series, that’s a fact. I like both teams but I honestly feel like if the Cavs keep playing the way they played in game 4 against the Hawks there is nobody that can beat them. When LeBron plays the point guard position the Cavs have just been off the charts. James is quite possibly the most versatile player in NBA history. How many guys can actually play all 5 position efficiently? Cavs in 7.

    • dont worry bout it says:

      Easily name one, magic Johnson and James has no comparison to him

      • Uranidiot says:

        Magic Johnson can’t play all 5 position.. If it’s offense? Yes!.., defense?.. No!… Go play some pick up game maybe u learn something., that’s! if u know how to play!… Wink!

  32. tomas says:


  33. Digra says:

    Cavs will take the Cup. I guess 4-2.
    GSW – CAV ( 1:0 )
    GSW – CAV ( 1:1 )
    GSW – CAV ( 2:1 )
    GSW – CAV ( 2:2 )
    GSW – CAV ( 2:3 )
    GSW – CAV ( 2:4 )

    • No says:

      So you’re telling me the Cavs are going to win three games in a row against the Dubs, with two of those coming at the hardest place for opposing teams to play in the NBA? Are you feeling okay?

  34. someone says:

    lol warriors will win because of their depth+more talent. Kyrie has banged up knees and Love is out. Deffensively and offensively warriors are the best so yea warriors in 6

  35. KC says:

    I say the cavs in 4 because Klay might not play in the dubs first two home games and Curry will get shut down by our perimeter defenders-Shumpert Smith and Delly.Then the Warriors will have no one 2 run their offense.And then Thompson,Kyrie and Lebron will dominate Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green.
    And with these 4 wins:
    Lebron will get his 3rd ring,
    Kyrie will get his 1st
    Cleveland will finally have a championship
    And Shawn Marion can retire with a championship
    GO CAVS!!!!

    • B Ball Lover says:

      I’m a Cavs fan too but lets be realistic about this. No way in Hell they sweep them. Both teams have a tough road ahead of them and I believe this is going to be one of the most entertaining finals in NBA history. My prediction is Cavs in 7.

  36. jay says:

    LeBron experienced in the finals…. At losing them ! If Thompson can play I saw warriors in 6

    • saeed says:

      Cavs in 5 with or without Thompson. It is a reminiscent of 2012 where I though the deep OKC could be an unstoppable match-up for Miami and though Spurs would be better. I think LeBron and Cavs are a bad match-up for the Warriors. However, LeBron has to increase his efficiency and range shooting. I think they would have had more match-up problems with Rockets compared to the Warriors.

  37. Jun says:

    CAV’S in game 6… Team Work is the key, Lebron is more matured now with his game… I like the aggressiveness of Thompson and Mosgov, plus the defense/offense of Shumpert & Smith. The bake & shake of Kyrie Irving, while Kevin Love is watching in the bench, lol… For sure it will be a good NBA Finals…

  38. G says:

    cavs on 5.

  39. ChrisCiel says:

    Cavs in 4 or 5!

  40. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Lebron’s the man nobody on the Warriors can guard him, but Lebron can guard Curry, Thompson, or anybody else on the Warriors, and the Cavs go as Lebron goes, it’s hard to choose a winner, i like both, but i think the Cavs will win it, Lebron’s on a mission to bring home the ship to north east Ohio.

  41. Skrutz says:

    This is going to be a great Finals matchup (I hope). GSW has tons of talent and have cruised, but Lebrons willpower, leadership, and collective experience will be the deciding factor I think. Both teams deserve it (and my squad is already out) so I’m just hoping for 7 games, no matter who wins.

  42. cantwait says:

    “Stephen Curry and LeBron James won’t be guarding each other and have very unique games, but some of their playoff advanced stats are very similar.”

    It’s probably true that Curry won’t guard LeBron.

    However, I think LeBron guarding Curry at times is quite possible. Not all the time, but with Kyrie possibly slowed down by injuries, LeBron could take some of the defensive load. He’s guarded top point guards in the playoffs before:
    – He shut down Derrick Rose in 2011 ECF. (Although I’m not sure why LeBron didn’t seem to guard Rose as much this year. Maybe the need just wasn’t there?)
    – He guarded Tony Parker at times in the last 2 Finals. Of course, he went 1-1, so I’m definitely not saying that LeBron can shut down Curry.
    (He also guarded Jeremy Lin during the Linsanity period. I know, not a top point guard and not the playoffs, but it was one of Lin’s worst games during Linanity.)

  43. mil says:

    Cleveland’s defense will stifle the GSW offense and since they live by the 3 they will die by the 3!!!!!!

  44. mil says:

    Cleveland Cavaliers will win their first championship!!!!!

  45. Matt says:

    Golden state will win in 6 games.

  46. BIG-GAME-JAMES-23 says:

    Cavs in 6. You heard it here first.

  47. Romy A. Cator says:

    While the Warriors have Steph Curry, and the Cavaliers have Lebron James. Curry is inexperienced in the finals while Lebron is very much experienced. May the better game plan wins.

  48. MariusV says:

    It’s going to be a good matchup but in the end GSW is going to win