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Dose: Finals Facts and Stats

Sunday, May 28, 2017


There will be plenty of ink spilled over the next few days previewing the much-anticipated 2017 NBA Finals, and rightfully so. It is the third installment of an incredible trilogy. The rubber match between the Cavs and the Warriors. There is so much at stake, with the legacy of Hall-of-Fame players potentially hanging in the balance.

However, before we look forward, let’s take a quick look back.

In particular, let's examine the mind-boggling numbers LeBron James racked up last year at this time. With the Cavs facing a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 deficit to the 73-win Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, King James put the city of Cleveland on his back and delivered arguably the greatest three-game stretch in the history of the sport.

Over the final three contests of that series (Games 5, 6 and 7), LeBron averaged 36.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 3.0 blocks and 3.0 steals.

To help put those numbers in perspective:

  • In the final three games of the 2016 Finals, James dished out more assists (29) than Stephen Curry had in the entire seven-game series (26).

  • In those final three games, James scored more points (109) than Draymond Green scored in the entire seven-game series (99).

  • LeBron grabbed 35 rebounds in those final three games. Klay Thompson tallied a total of 21 rebounds in the entire series.

  • LeBron also had nine blocks and nine steals in those final three games. Curry finished the series with a total of six steals and three blocks, while Thompson totaled seven steals and four blocks.

 


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Of course, it wasn’t just those three games in which LeBron unequivocally proved he’s the best player on the planet. Dating back to the start of the 2015 Finals, Cleveland and Golden State have played each 13 times. Over those 13 Finals games spanning two years, James led all players in total points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Below are the respective ranks, with first- and second-place finishers:

Points:
1. LeBron James: 423 points
2. Stephen Curry: 314 points

Rebounds:
1. LeBron James: 159 rebounds
2. Tristan Thompson: 149 rebounds

Assists:
1. LeBron James: 115 assists
2. Draymond Green: 68 assists

Blocks:
1. LeBron James: 19 blocks
2. Andrew Bogut: 15 blocks

Steals:
1. LeBron James: 26 steals
2. Draymond Green: 23 steals

Nonetheless, the reality is those numbers won’t matter when the ball is finally tipped on Thursday night at around 9:07 pm EST. The first game in a new series wipes the slate clean.


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Yet, to continue with the numbers theme, here are a few more facts and figures to consider as we all try to wait patiently for Game 1.

* 44:
By the time Thursday arrives, the Warriors will have only played 19 games in the last 63 days. That's 44 off-days. (via Anthony Slater of the Mercury News). There are always pros and cons in the “rust vs. rest” debate, but lengthy stretches between games have not slowed down Golden State in the least this postseason.

* 207:
The Warriors have won 207 regular season games over the last three seasons, which is more wins than any team over any three-year span in NBA history. Prior to 2015, only five teams in the 70-year history of the league had won more than 67 games in a single season. The Warriors have AVERAGED 69 victories per season over the last three years. However, they currently have just one ring to show for it. Four more wins in June would be incredibly important for this group’s legacy.

* 104.6 or 108.0:
The Cavs were terrible defensively during the regular season. They ranked 22nd in the league in Defensive Efficiency, allowing 108 points per 100 possessions. Then (although many claimed they wouldn’t be able to) they flipped the switch in the postseason. Cleveland ranks second in Defensive Efficiency in these playoffs (104.6), behind only the Warriors among teams that advanced past the first round. Now the Cavs get their stiffest test yet.

* 32.7 percent:
Klay Thompson has been unable to get on track offensively this postseason. In the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs, Thompson averaged just 11.0 points while shooting a frigid shot 32.7 percent from the floor. And he wasn't much better in the first two rounds. Over the Dubs 12 playoff games, he has shot better than 46 percent from the floor just once. In fact, among players that have logged at least 300 minutes this postseason, Thompson has recorded the lowest PER. Klay’s effective FG percentage (.455) sits just below Alex Abrines and P.J. Tucker. With all that said, Thompson is simply too good of a shooter not to snap out of his current offensive funk. It’s only a matter of time before he explodes.

* 32/15/9:
LeBron’s heroics, in particular his block of Andre Iguodala, in Game 7 last year will be talked about forever. Ditto for Kyrie Irving’s game-winner over Stephen Curry. However, Draymond Green’s incredible performance in that final game of the Finals will likely be lost to history. Green scored a game-high 32 points (on 11-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-8 from downtown and 4-of-4 from the stripe), grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds, and dished out a team-high nine assists. However, it was for naught. Here is what Draymond said after the game, as the Cavs were dousing themselves in champagne in the visitor's locker room at Oracle Arena: “They're going to remember LeBron's game. They're going to remember Kyrie's game. They're not going to remember mine."

* 699-699:
At the moment LeBron blocked Iggy, the score in Game 7 was tied at 89. Incredibly, the cumulative score of the Finals up that point was also tied. Each team had scored a grand total of 699 points apiece over six games, three quarters and 11 minutes, until Kyrie drained that dagger over Steph. It would be seemingly impossible for this year’s Finals to be as tightly contested or as dramatic as the 2016 version, but let's hope we get to witness something special once again.




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