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If you don’t feel like dealing with all the digits, I can summarize the essence as well as the outcome of Sunday’s ECF Game 1 with two simple facts/observations.

On Cleveland’s very first offensive possession of the series, a Boston defender deflected a Cav pass not once but twice.

Fact No. 2: Neither coach felt the need to request a stoppage in play during this game’s third quarter of play – both time-outs were mandatory, induced by rule at the “next whistle.” (How often does THAT happen, esp. in a post-season game?)


Summative Equation:
Bos – 48 Conversions + [+9 “Stripes”] {11 treys “minus” 2 missed FT’s “equals” 9 stripes}
Cleve – 39 Conversions + [+1 “Stripe”] {4 treys “minus” 3 missed FT’s “equals” 1 stripe}
Expected Outcome -- +9 Conversions + [+8 Stripes] = C’s win by 26 points
Actual Score: Boston 108, Cleveland 83


The Algebra of the Game

1st Quarter
FG: C’s – 14 - 22, .636 / Cleve – 7 - 22, .318
3FG: C’s – 2 - 5, .400 / Cleve – 0 - 6, .000
FT: C’s – 6 - 8, .750 [3] / Cleve – 4 - 5, .800 [2]
TO: C’s – 3 / Cleve – 1
OR: C’s – 2 + 2 (team) / Cleve – 1 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 24 / Cleve – 24
CV%: C’s – 17 / 24, .708 / Cleve – 9 / 24, .375


Either the Cavs took Marcus Morris’s pre-series trash-talk seriously, or they simply view his defensive efforts as exploitable.

Kevin Love and LeBron James attacked him on three consecutive early possessions, good for two personal fouls, five points and a three-point Cleveland lead. But rather than yank Morris – who’d take the ball aggressively to the goal for an old-fashioned “trey” the very next trip down the floor – the wily “brains of the outfit” re-assigned defensively, taking away the “easy” switch Love had been gaining.

That run of three straight Cleveland conversions would not be surpassed (twice equaled in Q3) until the middle of the fourth quarter.


2nd Quarter
FG: C’s – 10 - 19, .526 / Cleve – 8 - 25, .320
3FG: C’s – 3 - 7, .429 / Cleve – 0 – 6, .000
FT: C’s – 2 - 2, 1.000 [1] / Cleve – 1 - 1, 1.000 [0]
TO: C’s – 3 / Cleve – 3
OR: C’s – 0 + 1 (team) / Cleve – 4 + 2 (team)
Poss: C’s – 22 / Cleve – 22
CV%: C’s – 11 / 22, .500 / Cleve – 8 / 22, .364


The C’s yielded back-to-back Cleveland conversions just twice in Q2. The Cleveland offense went “one-and-done” nine times.


3rd Quarter
FG: C’s – 7 - 19, .368 / Cleve – 9 - 18, .500
3FG: C’s – 3 - 9, .333 / Cleve – 3 - 8, .375
FT: C’s – 0 - 0, .000 [0] / Cleve – 8 - 8, 1.000 [3]
TO: C’s – 2 / Cleve – 3
OR: C’s – 1 + 0 (team) / Cleve – 2 + 1 (team)
Poss: C’s – 20 / Cleve – 21
CV%: C’s – 7 / 20, .350 / Cleve – 12 / 21, .571


The Cavs shot 3-for-8 from distance in Q3 – 1-for-18 during the other 36 minutes.


4th Quarter
FG: C’s – 12 - 24, .500 / Cleve – 7 - 21, .333
3FG: C’s – 3 - 9, .333 / Cleve – 1 - 6, .167
FT: C’s – 3 - 3, 1.000 [1] / Cleve – 4 - 6, .667 [3]
TO: C’s – 3 / Cleve – 3
OR: C’s – 3 + 0 (team) / Cleve – 2 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 25 / Cleve – 25
CV%: C’s – 13 / 25, .520 / Cleve – 10 / 25, .400


A depleted roster plus an excess of Garbage Time can make for Strange Bedfellows.

With 2:52 to go, Coach Stevens replaced Terry Rozier with … starting center Aron Baynes. For the final six offensive sets, it seemed as if Baynes and his back-up Greg Monroe were kinda taking turns running the point.

I’m not so sure about Moose, but I can foresee Aron Baynes prioritizing his ball-handling (along with that new-found trey, of course) to replicate that little component of Mr. Horford’s “Total Package.” 


Full Game
FG: C’s – 43 - 84, .512 / Cleve – 31 - 86, .360
3FG: C’s – 11 - 30, .367 / Cleve – 4 - 26, .1544
FT: C’s – 11 - 13, .846 [5] / Cleve – 17 - 20, .850 [8]
TO: C’s – 11 / Cleve – 10
OR: C’s – 6 + 3 (team) / Cleve – 9 + 3 (team)
Poss: C’s – 91 / Cleve – 92
CV%: C’s – 48 / 91, .527 / Cleve – 39 / 92, .424


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

All the way back to George Mikan’s day, great NBA teams have always had that “stud” who – every series – was gonna win you a playoff game single-handedly … the all-time greats tend to make those contributions on the road.

In the case of the 2018 Boston Celtics and this here ECF? Our “stud” is a very innocuous-looking dude named Brad. It was 51 weeks ago he coached his out-matched and battered boys to a seemingly-insignificant road playoff win.

Big Al or The Kid will get the headlines, but Brad Stevens will do no worse than split during his guys’ business trip to Ohio this weekend – no matter what happens in Game 2.


images: getty, AP, bostonherald

Abacus Reveals 5/14/2018 03:36:00 PM Edit
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