Thursday, January 7, 2016

Narrative vs reality

I'm a Cavs fan, and I watch Cavs games.  Last night Kyrie and Lebron were great, getting to the rim, spectacular finishes, nailing outside shots.  The narrative from a game like this is that the Wizards couldn't keep up with the Cavs 2 big scorers (sorry Kevin Love).  But they actually did.  The Wizards earned 8 more FTs than the Cavs, made 2 more 3s on 5 fewer attempts, and had a higher FG%, eFG%, and TS% than the Cavs.  In terms of "ball movement" Washington DOUBLED the Cavs assist % and almost doubled their assist total (31 to 16). 

How did the Cavs win, and win fairly handily as Cleveland's lead was between 8 and 14 points from 8:43 remaining until Wall hit a 3 with 2.9 seconds remaining to make the final score more respectable, when Washington was more efficient by most metrics?  Well Gortat, Porter and Dudley combined for 5 offensive rebounds, and the rest of the Wizards combined for zero.  On the Cavs side Love had 5 0-boards on his own.  Dellavedova had as many offensive rebounds (3) in 28 mins as John Wall had total rebounds in 40 mins. 

That the Cavs out rebounded the Wizards is unsurprising.  Cleveland is 3rd and 7th in D and O rebounding rates and the Wizards are 15th and 26th, but that the Cavs could do it while playing a 7 man rotation that consisted of 4 guards under 6'6?  While Mozgov played only 4.5 mins?  This game further reinforces my belief that the single biggest edge that Cleveland has is in its ability to field 3 or 4 + rebounders at a time, even when they are playing "small". 

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