Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t. In the wake of the lopsided results of both Game 1 and Game 2, let’s filter out the opinions and stick to the facts. Let’s look at the actual numbers from the regular season and the Finals so far, via NBA.com, to see if the Cleveland Cavaliers have any chance at pulling off another miracle series or if the Golden State Warriors are on their way to a historic sweep of the playoffs.
Let’s start with the offense.
It’s no question that the Dubs are an offensive juggernaut. They already were even without Kevin Durant, but the moment he donned blue and yellow, it left little question as to who would be the de facto team to watch on offense. The regular season saw the group from Oakland score a league-best 115.9 points per game behind KD, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson. The Cavaliers were no slouches either. Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, and the rest of the gang put up 110.3 points—good enough to be ranked 4th in the league. But in the Finals? The Warriors are now almost 7 points better than their season average while the Cavs are averaging a measly -8 versus their usual production.
Looking at the field goal percentage paints the same picture. The Warriors were ranked first at 49.5% with the Cavaliers not far behind at 47%. Over the last two games, Golden State’s accuracy only slightly dipped making 46.6% of their field goals while Cleveland has only shot 40%, even shooting below 35% during Game 1.
Surprisingly, the Cavs made one more three-point shot per game than the Dubs during the regular season. But Curry, Durant, and Thompson apparently don’t care at all; their team has made 5.5 more field goals beyond the arc than Cleveland during the series. They were virtually tied in downtown during the regular season, and while the addition of Kyle Korver to Cleveland seemed like the perfect way to negate Golden State’s perceived advantage, GSW is still shooting more than 7 percentage points better than CLE in the first two games.
The Warriors are also sharing the ball better—with all the options on their team, why wouldn’t they? Golden State ranked first in assists for the regular season, getting 7.7 assists more than the Cavaliers. They have even done better during the series, getting 65 assists versus Cleveland’s 42 for Games 1 and 2 combined.
(Warriors – 1 Cavaliers – 0)
Is Cleveland doing better on defense?
Not really. While both teams didn’t do particularly well in limiting their opponents’ scoring output, the Dubs only allowed 104.3 points during the regular season, while the Cavs let opposing teams score an average of 107.2. The Cavaliers have now let the Warriors score 20.5 more points than them in two consecutive runaway victories.
With the help of Durant’s (1.6 bpg) length and athleticism and Draymond Green’s (1.4 bpg) hustle and relentless energy, Golden State also blocked more shots. They averaged 6.8 rejections during the regular season and 5 in the Finals. Cleveland, with the lack of a dominant interior defender, ranked 25th in denials for the season with 4, and has stayed consistently subpar in the Finals, only blocking 3.5 shots per game.
Green has carried bulk of defensive duties for the Warriors with a league-leading 2 steals per game, guiding his team to the No. 1 rank in total steals for the 2016-17 season. The Cavaliers? Dead last at only 6.6. It’s no surprise that in the series, the Dubs are averaging more steals per game than the Cavs.
(Warriors – 2 Cavaliers – 0)
What about rebounding? Or taking care of the ball?
With Javale McGee and Zaza Pachulia patrolling the paint for Golden State, height is really becoming a factor in favor of the Warriors. While the pair has not been dominant rebounders, they have held Tristan Thompson, one of Cleveland’s best rebounders, to only 4 rebounds per game in the series. Aside from the length advantage, the Warriors are boxing out and outhustling the Cavaliers and are being rewarded with more rebounds per game. Cavs fans are still waiting for Tristan to step up and grab more loose balls to help Kevin Love and the King control the boards.
In terms of taking care of the ball, Cleveland was actually better during the regular season, averaging one less turnover than the Warriors. But we know that those stats and standings don’t really matter (read: Celtics versus Cavaliers) and the Cavs are now averaging 2.5 more turnovers in Games 1 and 2.
(Warriors – 3 Cavaliers – 0)
By the looks of it, the Warriors are well on their way to sweeping the entire playoffs. And while the Cavaliers came back from this type of deficit just a year ago, KD is no Harrison Barnes. We’re definitely not counting out any team that King James is a part of, but coach Tyronn Lue and the boys have a lot of adjustments to make before Game 3’s tip-off to even have a chance of Defending the Land and becoming back-to-back champions.
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