Playoffs 2017: East Semifinals -- Cavs (2) vs. Raptors (3)

Numbers preview: Cleveland Cavaliers (2) vs. Toronto Raptors (3)

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense remains a question mark and they didn’t play their best basketball against the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. But they still got through with another sweep, the first step toward defending their 2016 championship.

The next step should be tougher.

The Cavs are 28-4 in Eastern Conference playoff games since LeBron James returned to Cleveland. Two of those losses were in Toronto last year, but James didn’t seen that as a adverse situation.

These Raptors are different than the team the Cavs beat in last year’s conference finals. Having made a couple of rotation upgrades at the trade deadline, this Toronto team is more versatile and better defensively. It is, arguably, the best team in franchise history. And after some early-series struggles, the Raptors took care of business in the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that will be good enough to beat James and the defending champs four times in seven games. But maybe this is the year James, after six straight trips, finally exits the postseason before The Finals.

Cavs-Raptors series hub | Steve Aschburner’s series preview

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Cavs-Raptors, 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

Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)

First round: Beat Indiana in four games.

Pace: 97.6 (7)

OffRtg: 115.9 (2)

DefRtg: 111.0 (13)

NetRtg: +4.9 (5)

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

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

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

Cavs first round notes:

Total point differential of 16 points was the lowest for a four-game sweep in the last 20 years.

Averaged only 4.5 fast break points per game, the fewest in the first round.

Had an effective field goal percentage of 58.3 percent from outside the paint and 66.7 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers. Both were the best marks in the first round. Was the only team to shoot 50 percent or better from mid-range and their 21 3-pointers in Game 3 (the only game in which a team has taken more than half its shots from 3-point range) were the most in a game this postseason.

Have isolated on 16.5 percent of their possessions, the highest rate in the playoffs.

Had the worst first-quarter defense in the first round, allowing the Pacers to score 122.6 points per 100 possessions in the first 12 minutes.

Were outscored in the first quarter (minus-4), second quarter (minus-3) and fourth quarter (minus-14) in the series. But they were a plus-37 in the third. Had both the best third-quarter offense (131.1 points scored per 100 possessions) and the best third-quarter defense (88.0 allowed) in the first round.

Kyrie Irving (35.3 percent) and LeBron James (32.6 percent) ranked third and fifth in usage rate in the first round.

James led all players in the first round at 43.7 minutes per game. The Cavs were outscored by 12 points in the 17 minutes he sat.

James also led all players in the first round with 18.5 points in the paint per game, 3.2 more than any other player.

Tristan Thompson grabbed 22.5 percent of available offense rebounds while he was on the floor, the best offensive rebounding percentage in the first round.

The Cavs allowed just 0.81 points per possession when Thompson defended a ball screen, the lowest rate among players who defended at least 50 ball screens (as the screener’s defender) in the first round.

Deron Williams had an effective field goal percentage of 103.8 percent, having shot 10-for-13 (7-for-9 from 3-point range).

See Cavs-Pacers preview for regular season notes.

Toronto Raptors (51-31)

First round: Beat Milwaukee in six games.

Pace: 92.5 (11)

OffRtg: 101.5 (14)

DefRtg: 100.7 (2)

NetRtg: +0.8 (7)

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

Raptors first round notes:

Assisted on 55.7 percent of their field goals after assisting on only 47.2 percent (the lowest rate for any team in the last 27 years) in the regular season. That was the biggest increase from the regular season to the first round this year. They were also one of only three teams (Golden State and Milwaukee were the others) that saw an increase in passes per possession from the regular season.

37 percent of their 3-point attempts came from the corners, the highest rate in the playoffs.

Starting lineup for the last three games outscored its opponents by 17.4 points, the third best mark among lineups that played at least 35 minutes in the first round. They outscored the Bucks by 44 points in 120 minutes with Norman Powell on the floor and were outscored by 40 points in 168 minutes with Powell on the bench.

Had two games where they grabbed more than 90 percent of available defensive rebounds.

Lead the postseason with 21.7 deflections per game.

Had an effective field goal percentage of 66.2 percent in Game 5, the best mark in the playoffs this year. Had an effective field goal percentage of 39.3 percent in Game 1 and 38.0 percent in Game 3, two of the three lowest marks in the playoffs this year.

Shot just 23.1 percent on pull-up 3-pointers, the second worst mark in the first round, after leading the league at 37.1 percent on pull-up 3s in the regular season. Kyle Lowry made just five of his 25 pull-up 3s against Milwaukee after shooting 42 percent on them (best among players with at least 200 attempts) in the regular season.

DeMar DeRozan scored 1.32 points per possession in isolation, the best mark among players with at least 20 isolation possessions.

Serge Ibaka defended 11.7 shots at the rim per game, most in the first round. Among players who defended at least six per game, only Myles Turner held his opponents to a lower field goal percentage.

See Raptors-Bucks preview for regular season notes.

The matchup

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

Oct. 28 @ TOR – Cavs 94, Raptors 91

Nov. 15 @ CLE – Cavs 121, Raptors 117

Dec. 5 @ TOR – Cavs 116, Raptors 112

Apr. 12 @ CLE – Raptors 98, Cavs 83

Pace: 96.9

CLE OffRtg: 106.0 (11th vs. TOR)

TOR OffRtg: 108.6 (16th vs. CLE)

Matchup notes:

The only Cavs that played in all four games were Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert and Thompson. James, Irving and Kevin Love all missed the fourth game (on the final night of the regular season), Toronto’s only win.

DeRozan also missed the final meeting. That was the only game against Cleveland for which the Raptors had P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka, but Ibaka didn’t play.

The Cavs (66) committed 24 more turnovers than the Raptors (42) over the four games. Cleveland’s turnover rate of 16.9 per 100 possessions was their highest rate against any Eastern Conference opponent.

The Cavs (101) took 32 more free throws than the Raptors (79) over the four games. Toronto’s free throw rate of 22 attempts per 100 shots from the field was their lowest rate against any Eastern Conference opponent.

Love (21.7 and 12.3) shot just 39 percent, but had a double-double in all three of the games he played in and was one of four players who averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds against Toronto.

DeRozan’s 29.7 points per game was the second highest scoring average against the Cavs among Eastern Conference players.

Irving shot 15-for-28 with Lowry defending him and James shot 6-for-22 with DeMarre Carroll defending him. In two Phoenix-Cleveland games, P.J. Tucker defended James for 10:46 and James took just four shots in those minutes.

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

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