The Cleveland Cavaliers may have had a rough stretch of games out west, and while it may not exactly be leading to a significant difference in the win column, the Wine and Gold have been playing markedly better when on the floor. Let’s take a look…
Cavs’ efficiency in first 28 games (record: 5-23): 99.1-105.9 (-6.8)
Cavs’ efficiency in last 15 games (record: 6-9): 102.9-106.4 (-3.5)
Would-be All-Star center Anderson Varejao has been out for all of these last 15 games…
The team is doing slightly worse defensively (still among the bottom five in NBA, either way), but notably better on the offensive efficiency side. An offensive efficiency mark of 99.1 also is in the bottom five of the NBA on that side of the ball, but 102.9 is pretty mediocre with league average being 102.4 so far this season.
This is pretty intriguing to me, so I tried to figure out why.
The Cavs are notably rebounding awfully during this stretch. That’s especially true on the offensive end.
Rebounding margin: +1.1 margin in first 28 games; -5.1 in last 15 games
Offensive rebound rate: 30.6% orb% in first 28 games, 27.1% in last 15 games
But the biggest positive differences? Fewer turnovers, better two-point shooting percentage and better free-throw shooting percentage.
Turnovers: 14.8 pg in first 28 games, 12.5 pg in last 15 games
2-point shooting: 43.7% in first 28 games, 45.5% in last 15 games
Free throw shooting: 72.4% in first 28 games, 79.6% in last 15 games
Given that the Cavaliers are among the league leaders in pace of play, this improved efficiency — coupled with fewer turnovers and improved conversion rates at the charity stripe — have proven to be huge despite the absence of a player who was averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds while providing heart, soul, energy and a career-best PER.