Here’s a rundown of some key numbers in the 4 teams’ conference finals success
Published 5:11 PM, May 23, 2018
Updated 5:11 PM, May 23, 2018
MANILA, Philippines – After 8 games combined in the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Finals, we are back to square one.
The 4 teams remaining – the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics – all have two wins under their belt, and of course, all remain very much in the mix to advance to the NBA’s biggest stage.
Here, we run down some numbers in the 4 teams’ conference finals success.
The Golden State Warriors had been flourishing at home – stringing up 16 straight playoff victories in the last two years.
But in Game 4, the the Rockets rose from a 41-point Game 3 whipping and stunned the Warriors at the Oracle Arena with a 95-92 thrilling triumph.
The sight of the “Roaracle” Arena fans exiting in disgruntled silence has become a rarity in the playoffs. The last time this happened, the city of Cleveland ended a 52-year title drought in the 4 major sports franchises (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL) as the Cavaliers won Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
Since that devastating loss, Golden State went on a tear, winning 16 straight playoff games at home – a new NBA record that eclipsed the 15 straight wins set by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls – until it was snapped on Tuesday, May 22.
This only means that winning Game 5 in Houston is a must for the Rockets, because if they don’t, the Warriors get a chance to end the series at home. The Rockets shouldn’t hope that lightning would strike the same place twice.
LeBron James is the king of the East. Period. And the upstart Boston Celtics learned that the hard way when King James dropped 44 points on 18 field goals as the Cavaliers evened up the series 2-2 in Game 4.
No matter how weak his supporting cast has been, LeBron is LeBron, and he is averaging 32 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists so far in the Conference Finals.
With two home games left in the series, Brad Stevens and the Celtics should focus on centering their team-oriented defense on the leader like Game 1, and hope the rest of the pack crumples along. One-on-one defense a la Marcus Morris just won’t cut it.
Again, no one goes through the kingdom except through the king.
Moving back to the West, we now shift our focus from good numbers to bad ones. And Chris Paul is caught in the crosshairs.
Oddly enough, the 6-foot “Point God” is averaging more rebounds (6.8) than assists (4.3) on top of a 19.8 points per game average this series. This doesn’t bode well for a team that prides itself as a deliberate carbon copy of Golden State, a team that shoots threes and moves the ball well.
Whether by design (too much iso ball for James Harden) or by accident (players not making shots off assists), CP3 needs to reassert his dominance on his own team if they want a realistic shot in making the NBA Finals.
The Rockets have already shown in 4 games that they can blast (22-point Game 2 win) or get blasted (41-point Game 3 loss). It’s up to CP3 to ensure that they orchestrate towards the right results.
In 4 games in the East Finals, the Boston backcourt has outscored Cleveland’s by nearly a hundred points, 160-64. The veteran tandem of George Hill and JR Smith were simply no match for young guns Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.
Here is the point breakdown of both teams’ respective starting guards for each game, in order: 31-10, 41-3, 47-24, 41-27. In all 4 games, Rozier and Brown outperformed their Cavs counterparts, including flat-out embarrassments in Game 1 and especially 2.
It’s no coincidence that the Cavs also lost big in both games, even though LeBron dropped 42 points in Game 2.
The Celtics need to keep the same energy flowing from their perimeter players if they want to break their 8-year Finals drought. After all, it’s good training in preparation for the MVP-caliber backcourt that will surely come out of the West, whether from Houston or Golden State. There’s just no escape, so the Celtics might as well start preparing now. – Rappler.com