The Algebra of Home Cookin’: Desperate Cavs smother upstart C’s, tighten ECF
You know it’s gonna be one of THOSE nights when this happens.
Not one Cleveland ballplayer was credited with an Offensive Rebound in the opening 12 minutes of Saturday’s ECF Game 3 – yet the Cavs (by my count) recorded five “Follow-Up” points from their four “team” OR’s.
It’s no wonder I’ve taken to calling them “F-U” points, huh?
Other than a late-quarter “kudo” to Jayson Tatum for being persistent in an opportunity to post-up Cav PG George Hill, my biggest take-away from Q1 was that Coach Stevens (while not playing to lose, mind you) was already looking ahead toward Monday’s Game 4 – and that was even before he’d sent the Dancing Bear onto the stage.
When the game reached it first stoppage in play a little over five minutes in, I wondered – even jotted down a note – if Al Horford had even attempted a shot. Only Terry Rozier had scored.
Al sat out only four possessions of Q1, but took no shots and recorded just one rebound and assist. The C’s Rock of Gibraltar seemed disengaged, a bit out of rhythm and indecisive on a rather clumsy turnover.
Did Cleveland’s energized “desperation” slow Big Al’s roll, or did the Pulse of the Squad simply have an off night?
The C’s managed only nine conversions in Q3 … and any hope of making a dent in Cleveland’s 20-point halftime lead was thwarted when the Cavs answered six of those successes with a conversion of their own.
In both the first and fourth quarters of this game, the Cavaliers made more three-point FG’s than two-point FG’s … 22 of their 41 FGA’s (53.7 percent) were launched from behind the arc.
Cleveland’s usage rate (3PAr) for the season was .379, No. 4 in the league. Through the first two rounds of the post-season, their 3PAr was .384 – a whopping .425 vs. Indiana in the opening round.
Over the past four post-seasons (2015-18), the Cavs have produced a 3PAr of .400+ in 27 games, 18 of them victories. And they were 23 – 16 in their .400+ performances during the 2017-18 regular season.
Cleveland’s most prolific playoff three-ball usage occurred on May 21, 2017. Kevin Love, J. R. Smith and Kyle Korver combined for 29 FGA’s, only three of them deuces. Collectively, the home team took 39 treys in 70 shots during that ECF Game 3, a 3PAr of .557.
By the way, Brad Stevens’s crew knocked off the reigning and defending league champs that evening just one year ago, 111 - 108.
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
There’s a part of me – a big part – that would love to see our C’s close out LeBron in five games and take a crack at the brass ring, whether that entail a journey down here to South Texas or an excursion to NoCal.
But on the other hand, basketball legend is forged, legacy wrought, under the pressure of “win or go home.”
As tempting as is the notion of knocking off the current “King of the Hill” in a Showdown Seventh Game, I think I’d prefer a more prompt advancement.