By: Opinionated Reezy
At the time of this writing,we are five games into the NBA and so far the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are picking up where they left off. They both are number 1 in their respective conferences and they are winning games pretty decisively. That being said there are elements to take note of when trying to determine which team is doing better.
So let’s first look at the overall numbers
Total Pts: 572
Effective FG% 54%
Total Turnovers 61
PPG 114.4 2nd in NBA
OPPG 104.0 15th in NBA
Golden State Warriors
Total Pts: 577
Effective FG% 55%
Total Turnovers 78
PPG 115.4 1st in NBA
OPPG 108.6 22nd in NBA
Note: The effective field goal statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3pt field goal is worth one more point than a 2pt field goal
Despite how you may feel about the roster and who has the edge, the math tells you that both teams are closer to equal than you may think. Now there are many who will say that Golden State still has the edge because they are in the west and the one loss may suggest that as being accurate, but let’s look at the numbers again to justify that. Remember that we are five games in so all teams are 95 – 98% healthy, there is only one basketball, and all records are set to 0 – 0 at the beginning of the season.
Cavaliers Opponents Record PPG Effective FG%
NY Knicks 1 – 3 96.8 48%
TOR Raptors 3 – 1 104.5 50%
ORL Magic 2 – 3 96.4 46%
HOU Rockets 3 – 2 110.2 55%
BOS Celtics 3 – 2 110.8 56%
Warriors Opponents Record PPG Effective FG%
SA Spurs 4 – 1 105.2 50%
NO Pelicans 0 – 5 98.2 45%
PHX Suns 1 – 4 104.0 46%
POR Trailblazers 2 – 3 110.6 51%
OKC Thunder 4 – 1 102.0 46%
Again with minor differences on both sides, the opponents have been fairly similar in their respective output. I cannot in good conscious place an edge on any team without being biased so for the purpose of this article let us place emotion aside and say we are looking at two teams who are literally two sides of the same coin. This means when they meet up, we have to consider the strengths and weaknesses. Here are some observations on where both teams lie.
Golden State Warriors
Offensive Power house: Golden State has the ability to shoot from anywhere, with a starting lining capable of holding that effort from anywhere. They are fast break nightmares because they can stop and pull up on you from virtually anywhere.
Kevin Durant: With an effective FG% of 64%, Kevin Durant will shoot the lights out on you. He is balling without regard for anything and that makes him dangerous.
The Splash Brothers: They are still there and they are angry. Not good for teams in their path. Kevin Durant creates the perfect smoke screen for them too. They don’t need to be the scoring leaders, just provide the mental haymakers to teams who think they are going on a run.
Defense: The Cavaliers aren’t fairing that much better in Opponents Points per game, but where the points can be scored makes all the difference in the game of momentum. Slashers have the ability to have a field day with Golden State as their defense stoppers aren’t as effective in keeping guys out of the middle. A key component in the warrior’s loss was the lack of Andrew Bogut in games 6 and 7. The loss to the Spurs came in part because Kawhi Leonard had a field day from inside. Momentum…
Ball Movement: Surprised, don’t be. Golden State is top heavy from the points perspective. It is their main strength, but when the ball doesn’t move, defenses can disrupt things. This is becoming evident with Golden State. Currently Draymond Green is the leader in assists with 7.2 per game, but the funny thing with assists is that it represents two things, a pass to the open player and that player successfully executing on that play. Despite how easy Golden State makes the three ball, it is still a low percentage attempt (generally speaking) and if they get sloppy, those can become easy 2’s on the other end.
The Bench: Doesn’t mean anything now, but can and will mean a whole lot as the season progresses. Golden State lost and as a result they depleted their scoring power on the Bench to a degree. Now, they have to rework them into the rotation. Running a team to the brink has its pros and cons and if the bench can’t fill the void when needed it can pose to be an issue. We have seen great teams fall due to lack of a bench.
Lebron James: At the moment, Lebron is averaging a near triple double and solidified his role as being the facilitator with 22 10 and 9. That is scary because he is forcing the cavaliers to be a cutting team and to always be ready for the ball. He is also trying to reduce the number of minutes he is on the floor to prepare for the off season. Lebron is ultimately playing a Magic Johnson type game right now, which is what he should been doing for a while.
Defense: When looking at the activity around the basket there are three players dominating the rebounds, Lebron James (9), Kevin Love (8), Tristan Thompson (10). Rebounds lead to second chance attempts or potential fast breaks, and represents that the lane is clogged. Now, this means very little if you shoot from 15 ft and out like Golden State prefers to do, but you at least cut off options to score in General and you increase the chances against softer interior teams of recovering the ball.
No Pressure: The Cavaliers brought a title to the city of Cleveland and made millions happy. Lebron did what he set out to do 13 years ago. Now the team can truly have fun. Their goal, not matter how they get there is to get back into the playoff race and secure home court for as many rounds as possible.
Lebron James: How is this possible you ask? Currently, the Cavaliers go as Lebron goes. Now, it may be appropriate to say that the weakness is Kyrie, but not true. Lebron moves the ball and is the better facilitator. If something happens to him the Cavaliers have a greater chance at nose diving than Golden State would if something happens to Kevin Durant or any of their starting five. If the CAV’s can find another facilitator then things are ok, but if not… watch out.
Bench: Better than Golden State, but not necessarily good for the duration. There are glimmers of hope in Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert, but you will need more for the long haul. With minor exception, the bench is relatively the same so it should make for easier inclusion into the system, but they cannot slouch.
Ball Movement: Yup, equal opportunity here. The Cavaliers are unstoppable when the ball is moving because they will make the defense work, but when the ball stops, they go from being Hulk to Bruce Banner almost instantly. Golden State can flirt with the hero ball because of who they have on the roster, but not the Cavaliers. If they want to win, they need to learn to keep that ball moving and keep defenses on a swivel.
At the end of the day, emotions will place you in any bucket in terms of you believe has the edge; however, I suggest we all buckle up for an exciting NBA Season because the numbers say that the unstoppable force is gearing up to meet the immovable object.