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The 14 Stats That Explain the 2017 Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals (So Far)

Steph’s rebounding, Cleveland’s shooting dip, Dahntay Jones’s mere existence, and more illuminating fun facts

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

Steph Curry, the Warriors’ wispy, 6-foot-3 point guard, recorded more rebounds (10) in Game 2 of the NBA Finals than Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers’ bouncy, 6-foot-9 big man, has managed through two games combined (eight). That’s one of many problems that Cleveland has faced during a pair of lopsided losses in the NBA Finals. Up 2–0 in the series, Golden State has looked every bit the juggernaut people imagined in July when Kevin Durant joined the team that won a record 73 regular-season games last year, while the Cavaliers have appeared sluggish and outmatched against the Warriors’ skilled and star-studded superteam.

That Curry-Thompson comparison is a dual-purpose stat: It depicts a marriage between a practical concern for Cleveland — how can the Cavs tap into the game plan that drove their comeback from a 3–1 series deficit in last season’s Finals, when Thompson averaged a double-double from Game 3 on? — and a plain fun fact — Curry is short and Thompson’s tall, but look at the disparate rebounding totals in Curry’s favor! There are other nuggets like it: illustrative of the Cavs’ fraught existence in this series and enjoyable for their historical or comedic content. So in honor of the Warriors’ 14–0 start to these playoffs, here are 14 more fun facts about the 2017 Finals thus far.

1. In Game 2, Golden State became just the second team in NBA Finals history to achieve a 50–40–90 game (making at least 50 percent of its field goals, 40 percent of its 3-pointers, and 90 percent of its free throws), joining the 1986 Celtics, who went a whopping 4-of-9 from 3-point range in a Game 2 win against Hakeem Olajuwon’s Rockets.

2. Unlike those Celtics, Golden State paired its efficient output with a high volume, as well, hoisting 43 3-pointers on Sunday night. In NBA playoffs history — all rounds, not just the Finals — a team has gone 50–40–90 while attempting at least 30 3s only twice. One was the Warriors on Sunday. The other was the Warriors against San Antonio last month.

3. There’s more: The Warriors achieved a 50–40–90 on at least 30 3-point attempts just once during the regular season. They’ve now done so twice during their 14 playoff games this year.

4. Steph Curry recorded the first triple-double of his playoff career on Sunday night, which is itself an accomplishment for a perimeter-oriented guard whose career high in rebounds is just 5.4 per game. Even more impressive is that Curry became just the third guard since Magic Johnson to record a triple-double in the Finals, joining Jason Kidd (2002) and Rajon Rondo (2010).

5. Rondo scored 19 points in his triple-double effort, Kidd 23 in his. Curry, though, reached 32 points on Sunday. Over the last three decades, the only players at any position with more points in a Finals triple-double are James Worthy (36 in 1988’s Game 7) and LeBron James (39 in 2015’s Game 2 and 40 in that year’s Game 5).

6. My boss likes to reference the combined stat "stocks" — steals plus blocks — as a way of measuring all-around defensive impact and disruptiveness. In Game 2, Kevin Durant recorded eight stocks — three steals, five blocks — matching his career high in any game, regular or postseason.

7. Since the start of last season, Tristan Thompson has played at least 20 minutes in 187 different games, including the postseason. Games 1 and 2 of these Finals represent the first time in that span in which he’s played at least 20 minutes while recording fewer than five rebounds in each of two consecutive games.

8. Channing Frye, with an on-court point differential of zero in 11 minutes, is the only Cavalier without a negative mark in the series, meaning Cleveland has been outscored in the duration that every player except Frye has been on the court.

9. Conversely, Shaun Livingston, with a differential of minus-1 in 34 minutes on court, is the only Warrior without a positive mark in the series.

10. Cleveland is still trying to figure out its rotation and minutes allocation, while the Warriors are confident in their tried-and-tested setup. Through two games, seven different Cavs have averaged between 10 and 24 minutes, while only three Warriors can say the same. Golden State’s roster is split neatly into the core rotation, which plays for the majority of each game, and the bit players, who feature only in spot minutes and garbage time. Cleveland’s, though, remains muddled, and coach Tyronn Lue is still experimenting with new lineups in the second half of Finals games.

11. Cleveland led all playoff teams through the conference finals round with a 43.5 percent shooting mark from behind the arc. During the regular season, the Cavs ranked second by making 38.4 percent of their 3-point attempts; they were also second-best with a 37.9 percent mark on the road. Through two Finals games, though, Cleveland has shot just 31.7 percent on 3s, which would have ranked last in the league in the regular season.

12. Much of the blame for that collapsing performance lies with the Warriors’ defense, which has rotated seamlessly and prevented Cleveland’s shooters from finding any open space or rhythm. The two lowest usage rates in the series belong to Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith, who are using possessions only about half as frequently as they did in the regular season.

13. Dahntay Jones, who has played in two regular-season games over the last two seasons because the Cavs keep signing the veteran before Game 82 and does his most inspired work when flirting with ejections, has more points in this series than Korver, for whom the Cavs traded a future first-rounder in January with this exact matchup in mind, and more than Frye, Smith, and Deron Williams combined.

14. One final stat most succinctly sums up the Warriors’ dominance thus far: With a plus-41 scoring margin, Golden State boasts the fourth-best overall differential through two games in Finals history. The second- and third-best marks both occurred more than a half-century ago, so these Warriors essentially have tallied the second-best two-game scoring margin in modern NBA Finals history. First place on the list? Last year’s Warriors, at plus-48. So maybe none of these facts and figures will end up mattering by this series’ end after all — it’s not like a commanding 2–0 lead or dominant individual performances last season let the Warriors live happily ever after.