Wednesday, February 3, 2010

50 games in... time for a breather

Unbelievably, the Cavaliers have already hit the 50-game checkpoint in their schedule. It's almost time for the All-Star break and now is as good a time as any to take a look at their body of work thus far. After last night's 105-89 drubbing of the Grizzlies at the Q (ho-hum, just their 9th consecutive win) the Cavs now stand at 39-11 - just one game off their torrid 66 win pace of last season. That means after their sky-is-falling 0-2 start, the team has rallied to play .812 basketball over its last 48 games. Not too shabby. And the general consensus is that there is still room for improvement.

My two main gripes are still free-throw shooting and turnovers. As a team the Cavs shoot just 72.9%, which ranks 27th in the NBA. And they average 14.8 turnovers a game, which puts them just about right in the middle of the pack compared to the rest of the league. But I can live with missed free throws (of course a lot of them come from Shaq) because this team gets to the line a lot (8th in the league at 26.8 attempts per game), which means the fouls are piling up for the opposition. And the turnovers mostly come from a lack of focus. There has been some horrendous passing into the post at certain points this season. It seems to have improved lately, but it's still something to keep an eye on. It also should be easily corrected. Now on to the good numbers:

  • The Cavs are 20-3 at home. They have outscored their opponents by an average of 9.4 points in those games. And all 23 home games have been sellouts.
  • The Cavs are 19-8 on the road. They have outscored their opponents by an average of 5.3 points in those games.
  • They are 19-5 against teams from the West and 20-6 against teams from the East. Consistency.
  • They are 22-3 when the game is decided by 10 points or more... just 5-5 when it's 3 points or less. And 20-10 vs. teams currently above .500... 19-1 vs. teams that are not. By contrast, against plus-.500 teams the Celtics are 17-11, the Magic 16-13, and the Lakers 19-11.
  • The Cavs own the league's best point differential (+7.3), best opponent FG% (.430), and best rebounding differential (+4.5).
In short, the Cavs are beating teams anywhere they play them, whomever they play, and they usually do it with relative ease. There is still a lot of basketball left to be played but we've seen this team battle through a rough start, a tough schedule, and injuries to key players. All the while they have done this while incorporating new guys into the rotation (Shaq, Moon, Parker, Jawad) and putting old guys in unfamiliar places (Z & Delonte off the bench, Boobie with a diminished role then forced to start). And I haven't even mentioned LeBron's nightly brilliance yet.

The King is well on his way to a second consecutive MVP trophy. But more importantly, the team seems to be on a mission. They are winning in all different styles this year against both the elite teams and the bottom-feeders. And there's still plenty left to be seen with the trade deadline approaching and 32 games remaining on the schedule. Stay tuned, this should be a fun ride.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Great article. I love the facts to back up all of your claims. Great season so far and the scary part like you mentioned is that their is room for improvement.