Yesterday, we started off a new series in the WFNY Stats & Info column. Today, I follow up on some of the same themes.
After looking at breakdown of the Cavs relatively improved play in their last 15 games, I couldn’t resist looking into how it compared to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008-09. As I wrote at great length in The Diff on Wednesday, that was Kevin Durant’s second year and Russell Westbrook’s first. Let’s look at the numbers.
2012-13 Cleveland Cavaliers
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)
2008-09 Oklahoma City Thunder
Thunder efficiency in first 32 games (record: 3-29): 97.6-107.1 (-9.5)
Thunder efficiency in last 50 games (record: 20-30): 103.7-108.1 (-4.4)
Obviously I don’t want to get ahead of myself. The sample size isn’t quite there yet. It’s impossible to truly say they’re similar situations, at all. And as comments and tweets replied back yesterday, the Cavs’ recent easy strength of schedule could certainly be a factor. But it’s just a neat comparison.
Digging deeper, the Thunder fired P.J. Carlesimo after starting 1-12 that season. They then kept sliding to 3-29 under Scott Brooks until eventually figuring it out. Their 20-30 run then led to a 50-win season the next year, and they’ve been great ever since.
Dare I say the Cavs are going to be that good that quickly? Absolutely not. But it’s undeniable they’ve looked and played more competitively recently, even without Anderson Varejao in the lineup. And they seem to be carrying a decent amount of momentum that should carry over to higher expectations in the 2013-14 season.