Cavs Cavs

Repeat of 2015 NBA Finals with Warriors looking forward to defend their title and Cleveland Cavaliers keeping their first championship dreams alive!   

Warriors needed all the 7 games to reach the Finals. Oklahoma Thunders had their chances and home court advantage in Game 6th but they fell apart in the last 5 minutes and forced Game 7 on themselves, not Warriors. Game 6 is going to haunt Thunders for a long time and for sure will have an impact on their roster next season, while Keven Duran ponders about his new free agent status!

At the end of the series, all it matters is the total number of wins. Warriors won 3 and Thunders gave them 1 extra because Thunders wanted to see Warriors in the Finals rather themselves.  How could you not take advantage of 3-1? Another post on this later!

Warriors 4 – Thunders 3

Cleveland Cavaliers had a smooth run in the Eastern Conference.  After sweeping both 1st and 2nd rounds, Cavs had a well-orchestrated, high spirited “Piece of Resistance” (referring Lego Movie) from Raptors for 2 consecutive games. Raptors were able to take advantage of their home court and their loyal fan base.  For 2 games in a row, it was really going “North” for them.  Cavs had their own share of poor performance in these 2 games.  Out of Big 3, 2 failed.  Game 5 and 6 are a different story.  Cavaliers found their rhythm and wrapped of this series on a good note. Meanwhile Raptors for the first time broke their franchise barrier and reached conference finals for the first time.   

Cavaliers 4 – Raptors 2

Not so fun fact: If Warriors did not make it to the finals this year, Cleveland Browns (maybe) have a legitimate opportunity to recruit Green (based on his NBA experience of kicking and ripping), as their Punter, Goal Kicker or for that matter just any kicker!

Amazingly, both teams somehow managed to keep their key players healthy and with no major concerns on injuries. Does this help? We will have to see!  It made a difference in the last year’s finals though.

Now, let's dive into some conference finals post series stats.  Numbers have their own language and they don’t lie a lot unless we want them to. Here I created 2 plots showing each player from both teams, Warriors and Cavaliers. Summarized series stats (last series played) are used from all 7 games for Warriors and 6 games for Cavaliers.

  • Plot 1 - Net Player Score for each player from both teams.  NPS reflects overall impact of a player in the game, based on the minutes on the floor, points, field goal made and attempts, steal, fouls, turnovers etc.
  • Plot 2 - Points scored by each player from both teams

Plot 1 shows that, Curry leads the chart with 97% NPS, simply outstanding. A distant match from Cavalier is James with 77% NPS. This is a significant gap! Cavs need to shut down or slowdown Curry and James need outperform Curry and keep Thompson on the check.  This is not about Cavs Big 3 vs Warriors Splash Brothers!  This is about individual player contributions to the game.

Using Plot 1, let's pick top 10 players based on their NPS (Net Player Score).  No surprise, we can see at least 5 starters from each team.  Does this mean these teams are evenly matched? Not exactly, numbers say something different.  Let’s looks at possible matches (based on NPS)

  • Barnes (25%) and Smith (26 - a possible match
  • Love (36%) and Iguodala (37%) - a possible match
  • Irving (54%) and Green (57%) - a possible match
  • Thompson (67%) does not have a match from Cavaliers
  • Curry (97%) does not have a match from Cavaliers
  • James (77%) falls in between Thompson and Curry. Reality is James can’t top both of these players in every game.

By just looking at the Net Player Score (NPS) alone, Cavs need to have a strong plan to fill the gap between Curry and Thompson and they need to do it for 4 games for their dream to come true. 

For Warriors they just need to keep playing the way they are playing now.  Warriors have very clear edge over Cavaliers. Warriors might end up winning it all, again!

No matter what happens, at,   it is always Go Cavs! Forever!