Numbers preview: The Finals

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Time for the rematch.

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are back in The Finals. One team won a record 73 games in the regular season, but faced elimination three times in the playoffs. The other fired its coach in January, but cruised through the first three rounds.

All that doesn’t matter at this point. No matter how they got here, the Warriors and Cavs are back where they were a year ago. And the next 4-7 games will determine if Golden State finishes off its historical season the right way or if LeBron James finally brings a title to Cleveland.

This is the 14th time that the same two teams have met in The Finals in consecutive years. The team that won the first meeting has repeated in six of the previous 13 occurrences, while the team that lost the first time has gotten revenge seven times.

Going back to Game 4 of last year’s Finals, the Warriors have won five straight games (by an average of 16.4 points) against Cleveland. But this is a different Cavs team than the Warriors have seen before. The East champs have taken things to a new level offensively, with a potent starting lineup (different than the one Golden State faced in the regular season) and a second unit that has been impossible to guard.

Through three rounds, the Cavs have been the more prolific 3-point shooting team with the more efficient offense. They’ve been playing a much different style than what we saw in last year’s Finals. And both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are healthy this time. Of course, the Warriors found a nice rhythm from beyond the arc in coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference finals.

The Cavs have the rest advantage. The Warriors have home-court advantage. There will be plenty of narratives to follow over the next few weeks, but the 2016 NBA title will be determined on the floor.

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 (73-9)

First round: Beat Houston in five games.
Conf. semis: Beat Portland in five games.
Conf. finals: Beat Oklahoma City in seven games.
Pace: 101.7 (1)
OffRtg: 109.8 (2)
DefRtg: 100.9 (5)
NetRtg: +8.9 (2)

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

20160531_gsw_byround

20160531_gsw_offense

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Warriors playoff notes:

20160531_gsw_shooting

Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)

First round: Beat Detroit in four games.
Conf. semis: Beat Atlanta in four games.
Conf. finals: Beat Toronto in six games.
Pace: 91.8 (14)
OffRtg: 116.2 (1)
DefRtg: 102.9 (9)
NetRtg: +13.4 (1)

Regular season: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Golden State: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
Playoffs: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

20160531_cle_byround

20160531_cle_offense

20160531_cle_defense

Cavs playoff notes:

20160531_cle_shooting

The matchup

Season series: Warriors won 2-0.
Dec. 25 @ GSW – Warriors 89, Cavs 83
Jan. 18 @ CLE – Warriors 132, Cavs 98

Pace: 98.2
GSW OffRtg: 112.3 (3rd vs. CLE)
CLE OffRtg: 92.3 (28th vs. GSW)

Matchup notes:

  • Barnes missed the Christmas game for Golden State. Frye wasn’t with Cleveland for either meeting, but Anderson Varejao (now a Warrior) was with the Cavs for both, playing 17 minutes in the January game. Timofey Mozgov, who has played only garbage time over Cleveland’s last 12 playoff games, started both games against Golden State.
  • The 92.3 points per 100 possessions the Cavs scored were the fewest they scored against any opponent.
  • The Cavs’ 3.0 fast break points per game was also their lowest mark against all opponents.
  • The Warriors shot 23-for-40 (10-for-17 from 3-point range) in the first quarters, winning them 28-19 and 34-21.
  • The Warriors “Death Lineup” didn’t play in either game.
  • The Cavs’ current starting lineup played just three minutes (in the Christmas game).
  • Green averaged 19.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists.
  • Shaun Livingston shot 10-for-11 (8-for-9 in the Christmas game).
  • James’ minus-43 over the two games was his second worst plus-minus in a regular season series in his career, only trumped by a minus-44 in three games vs. Boston in 2011-12.
  • Irving, James and Love combined to shoot 3-for-25 from 3-point range. James (0-for-4) and Love (0-for-2) also missed all their shots from mid-range.
  • Love’s 6.5 points per game was his lowest scoring average against all opponents.

Notes from the 2015 Finals:

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