Playoffs 2017: East Finals -- Celtics (1) vs. Cavaliers (2)

Numbers preview: Eastern Conference finals - Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 32-4 in the Eastern Conference playoffs since LeBron James returned home in 2014. So it’s fair if you already have the champs penciled in for a third straight matchup with the Golden State Warriors in The Finals.

After a lackluster second half of the regular season and a first round with a few close calls, the Cavs took care of business in their conference semifinals sweep of the Toronto Raptors. Their defense was significantly better and their offense remained unstoppable.

The last East team to beat LeBron James in the playoffs is the same team standing in the way of him making his seventh straight trip to The Finals. But this is an entirely different Boston Celtics team than the one that was a two possessions from winning a championship in 2010. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens have quickly rebuilt a contender while retaining the assets they got for tearing one down.

The Celtics have home-court advantage, but will have to recover quickly from a seven-game series with the Washington Wizards for Game 1 on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT). The Cavs may have to shake off some rust, but an extended rest seemed to do them good in the last round.

Eastern Conference finals hub | Steve Aschburner’s series preview

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Eastern Conference finals, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Boston Celtics (53-29)

First round: Beat Chicago in six games.

Conf. semis: Beat Washington in seven games.

Pace: 96.6 (9)

OffRtg: 110.8 (5)

DefRtg: 105.5 (3)

NetRtg: +5.3 (4)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

vs. Cleveland: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Celtics playoff notes:

Scored 3.5 more points per 100 possessions in the conference semifinals than they did in the first round. That was the biggest increase among the eight teams who won a series.

Have assisted on 70.4 percent of their field goals, the highest mark in the playoffs. Rank first in passes per game (309.8) and second (behind Milwaukee) in passes per possession (3.25) in the playoffs.

Have isolated on just 5.2 percent of their possessions, the lowest rate in the playoffs.

Have grabbed just 45.7 percent of total available rebounds, the lowest mark in the playoffs. They’ve outrebounded their opponent in just one of their 13 games (Game 5 vs. Washington).

Have allowed just 7.8 made 3-pointers per game, the lowest mark in the playoffs. They rank second in opponent 3-point percentage and their opponents have taken only 29.3 percent of their shots from 3-point range. That’s the lowest opponent (3PA/FGA) mark in the playoffs, just a hair lower than that of the Cavs (29.26 percent vs. 29.33 percent).

Al Horford has an effective field goal percentage of 71.8 percent, the highest mark among the 79 players who have taken at least 50 shots in the playoffs. At 63.8 percent, Kelly Olynyk ranks fifth among those 79 players and second among the ones still playing. Horford (43-for-52) and Olynyk (27-for-33) have shot 82.7 percent and 81.8 percent in the restricted area. Those are the second and third best marks among players who have taken at least 25 restricted area shots.

According to SportVU, only nine percent of Horford’s jump shots have been contested, the second lowest rate (higher than only that of Ryan Anderson) among 45 players who have taken 50 jumpers.

Marcus Smart has shot just 9-for-26 (34.6 percent) in the restricted area, the worst mark among players who have taken at least 25 restricted-area shots.

According to SportVU, Isaiah Thomas has used 30.2 ball screens per game, seventh most in the playoffs and most among players in the conference finals. The Celtics have scored 1.13 points per possession when Thomas has used a ball screen.

They’ve scored 1.18 points per possession when Marcus Smart has used a ball screen, though Smart has shot just 7.2 percent of the time, the lowest rate among 24 players who have used at least 100 ball screens in the playoffs.

Thomas’ 53 points in Game 2 vs. Washington were the most scored in a game this postseason.

Avery Bradley has taken 53 wide-open shots and 42 wide-open threes, most in the playoffs.

Horford leads the playoffs with 44 possessions as a roll man. His 1.48 points per possession rank second among 16 players with at least 20 roll-man possessions. Thomas’ 36 assists to Horford are the most from one player to a single teammate in the playoffs.

See Celtics-Wizards preview for first round notes and Celtics-Bulls preview for regular season notes.

Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)

First round: Beat Indiana in four games.

Conf. semis: Beat Toronto in four games.

Pace: 98.5 (7)

OffRtg: 117.0 (1)

DefRtg: 105.9 (4)

NetRtg: +11.0 (2)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

vs. Boston: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Cavs playoffs notes:

Have scored 6.1 points per 100 possessions more than they did in the regular season, the biggest increase among playoff teams.

Allowed 10.1 fewer points per 100 possessions in the conference semifinals than they did in the first round. The Spurs (-2.2) were the only other team that allowed fewer points per 100 possessions in the conference semis than they did in the first round.

Have isolated on 15.1 percent of their possessions, the highest rate in the playoffs. Their 1.11 points per possession on isolations ranks second. James (1.20) and Kyrie Irving (1.09) rank second and third in points per possession among players who have isolated on at least 25 possessions in the playoffs.

Irving and James have used 33 and 32 percent of the Cavs’ possessions, respectively, while on the floor. Those are the second and third highest usage rates in the playoffs and the highest among players still playing.

Have an effective field goal percentage of 70.7 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, the best mark (by a wide margin) in the playoffs. Channing Frye has an effective field goal percentage of 81.3 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, the best mark among players who have attempted at least 25.

Have shot 41-for-76 (54 percent) on corner 3-pointers. Though seven teams have played more games than the Cavs have, the 41 makes (with nine players who have made at least one corner three) leads the postseason and James’ 16 assists on corner threes are six more than any other player has.

Among 57 players who have attempted at least 25 3-pointers in the playoffs, Frye (55 percent), Kyle Korver (48 percent), James (47 percent) and J.R. Smith (44 percent) rank second, fifth, sixth and 10th in 3-point percentage. Korver and Smith have each taken more than 80 percent of their shots from 3-point range.

Have outscored their opponents by 14.3 points per 100 possessions in 339 minutes with James on the floor and have been outscored by 12.4 points per 100 possessions in 45 minutes with James on the bench.

According to SportVU, the Cavs have scored 1.32 points per possession when James has used a ball screen, the highest mark among 24 players who have used at least 100 ball screens in the playoffs.

They’ve scored just 0.93 points per possession when Irving has used a ball screen, the third lowest rate among those 24 players. Irving has taken a shot 42 percent of the time after using a ball screen, the highest rate among the 24, but has shot just 30 percent (3-for-25 from 3-point range) off a ball screen. James (33 percent) has the third highest rate of taking a shot after a ball screen and has shot 50 percent (12-for-24 from 3-point range) when doing so.

Irving has shot 15-for-35 (43 percent) in the restricted area, the second worst mark among players with at least 25 restricted-area shots in the playoffs.

The Raptors shot 15-for-21 (71 percent) at the rim when Kevin Love was their to protect it. That was the worst rim protection mark among players that defended at least 20 shots at the rim in the conference semis.

See Cavs-Raptors preview for first round notes and Cavs-Pacers preview for regular season notes.

The matchup

Season series: Cavs won 3-1 (2-0 in Cleveland)

Nov. 3 @ CLE – Cavs 128, Celtics 122

Dec. 29 @ CLE – Cavs 124, Celtics 118

Mar. 1 @ BOS – Celtics 103, Cavs 99

Apr. 5 @ BOS – Cavs 114, Celtics 91

Pace: 99.3

BOS OffRtg: 110.2 (13th vs. CLE)

CLE OffRtg: 116.1 (1st vs. BOS)

Matchup notes:

Al Horford, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk all missed the first game, which was the only game for which the Cavs’ starting lineup was together. J.R. Smith missed the second and third meetings, Kevin Love missed the third meeting, and Tristan Thompson missed the fourth meeting. Kyle Korver and Deron Williams were only with the Cavs for the last two meetings.

The Cavs grabbed 54.1 percent of available rebounds, their highest rebounding percentage against any opponent.

Over the four games, the Cavs were a plus-56 over the first three quarters and a minus-25 in the fourth. The Celtics won the fourth quarter in all four games.

Thomas’ 118 total points were the most scored against the Cavs in a season since Carmelo Anthony scored 126 (in five games) against Cleveland in the 2010-11 season. Thomas shot 29-for-40 (73 percent) in the paint and 6-for-31 (19 percent) from outside the paint.

The Celtics were the only team against which James had four double-doubles. He had a triple-double (28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists) in the Celtics’ March 1 victory, his 9.8 assists per game were the most anyone averaged against the Celtics this season, and he was two rebounds and one assist shy of averaging a triple-double over the four games.

The Celtics outscored the Cavs in the paint, but the Cavs’ average of 47.5 points in the paint in the four games was their highest average against any Eastern Conference opponent. Irving shot 18-for-22 (82 percent) in the restricted area.

The Cavs outscored the Celtics by 48 points in 159 minutes with James on the floor and were outscored by 17 points in 33 minutes with James on the bench.

The Celtics were a plus-15 in 89 minutes with Jaylen Brown on the floor and a minus-46 in 103 minutes with Brown on the bench.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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