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Even with a stat line rather modest by his historical big-game and “drama-queen” standards, the best player in today’s game imposed his will on the 94’ x 50’ parquet for a full 48 minutes Sunday evening.

A determined and battle-toughening band (down to a septet at the end) of Beantowners rode their youthful exuberance, precocious talent and a spirited home crowd to a quick start. Boston enjoyed its biggest advantage (35- 23) with just under nine minutes left in Q2 – indeed they trailed for only 36 seconds of the first half.

The C’s performed quite admirably in certain areas during their biggest game of the year. They worked the offensive glass efficiently enough for 12 “Follow-Up” points to Cleveland’s eight. And in “Points after Turnovers” they held a whopping 15 – 3 edge.

But the game was being played at a snail’s pace – neither team’s pace of play exceeded Q2’s 22 possessions apiece; for the only time in the series, neither team recorded 90 possessions overall.

A mid-Q2 run of seven consecutive Cav conversions – during which all five Cleveland starters scored – closed the double-digit gap to four at the intermission and set up a back-and-forth Q3 that would end with the visitors holding a three-point lead.

Boston enjoyed a brief (for just 21 seconds) lead courtesy of a seeing-eye Marcus Morris trey about a minute-and-a-half into Q4, and its final scoreboard advantage of the season (a JaysonTatum three-pointer off an LBJ TO) at the midpoint.

Two consecutive Marcus Smart offensive rebounds – the first off an errant Morris FT – were the C’s last gasp in the waning moments, but each led to a missed long ball that could have narrowed the deficit to a single point. Five quick shots leading to one-and done’s, along with a killer George Hill break-out, put the final nails in the coffin.

It had seemed, from at least Game 5, that part of Brad Stevens’s plan for victory was to wear out LeBron’s legs. The risk of such a plan was the fatigue factor upon his own shortened rotation, most of them competing in the longest season of their own basketball lives.

Whether it was fatigue or simply the magnitude such a moment will inevitably have on a youngster, the Celtics’ last charge could gain no traction, and they enter another off-season hungry.

One of my favorite Duke Ellington tunes is called “Kiss to Build a Dream On,” it’s been covered by dozens of crooners. Few have given it as pleasant an arrangement as the Brad Stevens Band.

As Lawrence Welk used to say, “Thang-a-you, boyz!”


Summative Equation:
Bos – 38 Conversions + [+2 “Stripes”] {7 treys “minus” 5 missed FT’s “equals” 2 stripes}
Cleve – 39 Conversions + [+2 “Stripes”] {9 treys “minus” 7 missed FT’s “equals” 2 stripes}
Expected Outcome -- -1 Conversions + [0 Stripes] = C’s lose by 2 points
Actual Score: Boston 79, Cleveland 87


The Algebra of the Game

1st Quarter
FG: C’s – 11 - 23, .478 / Cleve – 6 - 17, .353
3FG: C’s – 2 - 9, .222 / Cleve – 1 - 9, .111
FT: C’s – 2 - 2, 1.000 [1] / Cleve – 5 - 7, .714 [2]
TO: C’s – 0 / Cleve – 4
OR: C’s – 2 + 1 (team) / Cleve – 2 + 1 (team)
Poss: C’s – 21 / Cleve – 20
CV%: C’s – 12 / 21, .571 / Cleve – 8 / 20, .400


2nd Quarter
FG: C’s – 6 - 21, .286 / Cleve – 9 - 18, .500
3FG: C’s – 2 - 10, .200 / Cleve – 1 – 8, .125
FT: C’s – 3 - 4, .750 [2] / Cleve – 2 - 3, .667 [1]
TO: C’s – 2 / Cleve – 3
OR: C’s – 3 + 0 (team) / Cleve – 0 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 22 / Cleve – 22
CV%: C’s – 8 / 22, .364 / Cleve – 10 / 22, .455


3rd Quarter
FG: C’s – 5 - 20, .250 / Cleve – 6 - 17, .353
3FG: C’s – 0 - 7, .000 / Cleve – 4 - 12, .333
FT: C’s – 3 - 4, .750 [2] / Cleve – 4 - 6, .667 [2]
TO: C’s – 3 / Cleve – 2
OR: C’s – 2 + 2 (team) / Cleve – 0 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 21 / Cleve – 21
CV%: C’s – 7 / 21, .333 / Cleve – 8 / 21, .381


4th Quarter
FG: C’s – 7 - 21, .333 / Cleve – 9 - 14, .643
3FG: C’s – 3 - 13, .231 / Cleve – 3 - 6, .500
FT: C’s – 6 - 9, .667 [4] / Cleve – 7 - 9, .778 [4]
TO: C’s – 1 / Cleve – 4
OR: C’s – 4 + 0 (team) / Cleve – 0 + 1 (team)
Poss: C’s – 22 / Cleve – 21
CV%: C’s – 11 / 22, .500 / Cleve – 13 / 21, .619


Full Game
FG: C’s – 29 - 85, .341 / Cleve – 30 - 66, .435
3FG: C’s – 7 - 39, .179 / Cleve – 9 - 35, .394
FT: C’s – 14 - 19, .737 [9] / Cleve – 18 - 25, .714 [9]
TO: C’s – 6 / Cleve – 13
OR: C’s – 11 + 3 (team) / Cleve – 2 + 2 (team)
Poss: C’s – 86 / Cleve – 84
CV%: C’s – 38 / 86, .442 / Cleve – 39 / 84, .464

Note re Calculations:
The number of “possessions” is an accurate count, not a formula-based estimated value.

For purposes of clarity, the bracketed digit following the FT% is the exact count of “conversions” represented by those FTA’s.

“Possessions” calculation: FGA’s + FT conversions + TO’s – OR’s (including Team OR’s)

“Conversions” calculation: FG’s + FT conversions


Abacus Revelation for the Road

For the third series this post-season, Boston and its opponent converted EXACTLY the same number of possessions – 315.

There’s gotta be a reason for this – something about the way this team plays – but for the moment I’m stumped.

Boy, and I thought Turnover Percentage was baffling … sheesh!!


images: getty, AP, bostonherald.com

Abacus Reveals 5/28/2018 10:49:00 PM Edit
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