HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Cleveland Cavaliers swept their first-round series against the Boston Celtics, but came out of it in worse shape than they went in.
Kevin Love is out for the rest of the postseason. And J.R. Smith is suspended for the first two games of the conference semifinals. That will make the Cavs vulnerable at home, where they’re 22-1 since LeBron James returned from his hiatus in mid-January. And it will challenge head coach David Blatt to come up with the right lineup combinations around James and Kyrie Irving.
The Chicago Bulls will be a challenge as well. Though they struggled to finish off the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, the Bulls are healthier than ever. The Bucks series was the first time since Jan. 1 that all five Chicago starters played in six straight games.
Cavs-Bulls in the playoffs brings back memories of Michael Jordan game-winners, but Chicago has lost all three times it has met James in the postseason (2010, ’11 and ’13).
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Cavs-Bulls, 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)
Beat Boston in four games.
Pace: 95.9 (7)
OffRtg: 110.2 (3)
DefRtg: 97.2 (3)
NetRtg: +13.0 (2)
Cavs’ first-round notes:
- Took 38.1 percent of their shots from 3-point range, the highest mark in the playoffs, up from 33.4 percent in the regular season.
- Assisted on only 47.9 percent of their baskets, the lowest rate in the playoffs, down from 58.7 percent in the regular season.
- No. 1 3-point defense in the first round, having held the Celtics to 25.6 percent from beyond the arc.
- James leads the playoffs with 13.8 drives per game, according to SportVU.
- James has isolated 48 times, 11 more than any other player in the playoffs, according to SportVU.
- See Cavs-Celtics preview for regular season notes.
Chicago Bulls (50-32)
Beat Milwaukee in six games.
Pace: 95.7 (9)
OffRtg: 101.0 (12)
DefRtg: 90.0 (1)
NetRtg: +11.0 (3)
Bulls’ first-round notes:
- Allowed 11.5 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did in the regular season, the biggest defensive improvement among playoff teams.
- Turned the ball over on 17.5 percent of their possessions, the highest rate in the playoffs, up from 14.5 in the regular season.
- Assisted on 71.7 percent of their baskets, the highest rate in the playoffs, up from 59.3 percent in the regular season.
- Only team that held its opponent under 50 percent shooting in the restricted area.
- Mike Dunleavy leads the playoffs with nine corner 3-pointers, having shot 5-for-6 from the left corner and 4-for-4 from the right corner.
- See Bulls-Bucks preview for regular season notes.
- The Bulls’ standard starting lineup – Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah – did not play in any of the four meetings. No Chicago lineup played more than 20 minutes against the Cavs.
- Butler didn’t play in either of the games in Chicago. James averaged 26.3 shots and 7.7 free throw attempts per 36 minutes with Butler off the floor, and 19.8 shots and 3.6 free throw attempts per 36 with Butler on the floor.
- The Cavs grabbed 31.6 percent of available offensive rebounds. That was their highest mark against any Eastern Conference opponent and the highest mark among the Bulls’ Eastern Conference opponents.
- Irving and Smith combined to shoot 22-for-44 (50 percent) from 3-point range, while all other Cavs shot 13-for-57 (22.8 percent).
- The Bulls were a plus-42 in 102 minutes with Noah on the floor and a minus-52 in 95 minutes with Noah on the bench.
- Tony Snell‘s 30 shots were the most he took against any opponent, and he had an effective field goal percentage of 70.0 percent on them.