HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — LeBron James‘ quest to bring a championship to Cleveland begins again this weekend. James has been here before, but teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have not. Game 1 against the Boston Celtics on Sunday will be the first playoff game of their careers.
The Cavs have looked like the favorites in the Eastern Conference over the last couple of months, going 33-10 after James returned from a two-week break in mid-January. Their offense has been off the charts at times, and their defense has been improved with the additions of Timofey Mozgov and Iman Shumpert.
The Celtics had their own renaissance by getting rid of two of their three highest-paid players. They traded Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green and finished the season on a 23-12 stretch. Two of those wins came against the Cavs, but James played just 26 minutes of the April 10 meeting in Cleveland and four of the Cavs’ starters sat out the April 12 meeting in Boston.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Cavs-Celtics, 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
Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29)
Pace: 94.8 (25)
OffRtg: 107.7 (4)
DefRtg: 104.1 (20)
NetRtg: +3.7 (7)
- Had the league’s best offense against its top five defenses, scoring 107.9 points per 100 possessions over 14 games against the Warriors, Bucks, Spurs, Grizzlies and Wizards.
- Ranked 25th defensively through Jan. 11 (the end of LeBron James‘ two-week break), having allowed 106.0 points per 100 possessions. Ranked 16th defensively (102.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) after that. Overall, 20th is the lowest any James team has ranked in defensive efficiency, and no championship team has ranked that low in the 37 seasons since the league started counting turnovers.
- Isolated on 11.4 percent of their possessions, the highest rate in the league, according to Synergy.
- Kyrie Irving scored 1.09 points per possession on isolations, the best mark among players with at least 100 isolation possessions.
- In his 24 games with the Knicks, 36 percent of J.R. Smith’s shots were 3-pointers. In his 46 games with the Cavs, 67 percent of Smith’s shots were threes.
Boston Celtics (40-42)
Pace: 98.4 (5)
OffRtg: 101.7 (20)
DefRtg: 102.1 (14)
NetRtg: -0.4 (18)
- Ranked third defensively since March 9, allowing just 98.5 points per 100 possessions.
- Starting lineup was the league’s worst offensive lineup among those that played at least 200 minutes, scoring just 95.1 points per 100 possessions.
- After they traded for him, the Celtics scored 109.2 points per 100 possessions in 545 minutes with Isaiah Thomas on the floor and just 98.8 in 1,006 minutes with Thomas on the bench.
- Scored 1.02 points per possession in transition, the lowest mark in the league, according to Synergy.
- Lost eight games that they led by 15 points or more, the most in the league.
- Cleveland’s starting lineup played in just one of the four meetings and was a plus-14 in 16 minutes.
- The Cavs were a plus-46 against Boston in 92:31 with James on the floor and a minus-62 in 99:29 with him off the floor.
- 11 different Celtics and 11 different Cavs scored in double-figures in at least one of the four games.
- Cleveland’s NetRtg of minus-4.6 was their lowest against any Eastern Conference opponent.
- Matthew Dellavedova (98), Joe Harris (72), James Jones (66) and Mike Miller (69) all played more total minutes against the Celtics than they did against any other opponent.