Incredible stat shows how difficult and remarkable Cavaliers’ playoff run was
There is an argument to be made that leading this Cleveland Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals stands as one of LeBron James’s more impressive career achievements, and there’s one stat that may back that up further.
After being swept Friday night by the Golden State Warriors, the Cavaliers finished the playoffs with a negative point differential, having been outscored on the whole 2,263-2,225 — the first NBA Finalist since the 2002 New Jersey Nets to allow more points than they scored.
This year's Cavaliers were the first Finals loser since the 2002 Nets to get outscored in the playoffs.
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) June 9, 2018
Remarkably, the Cavaliers were only barely above water even before they played Golden State. They outscored opponents by just 21 points through the first three rounds of the playoffs, 1,821 to 1,799, with only their sweep of the Toronto Raptors keeping them above water. The Indiana Pacers outscored them 704-664 in the first round, and they only outscored the Boston Celtics by six points total in the Eastern Conference Finals. Much of that is due to the fact that, in losses, the Cavs fell victim to blowouts, while their wins tended to be tighter and less convincing. To be blunt, given how they played at times in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals, it is remarkable that they got as far as they did.
What does this tell us? The Cavaliers were never great defensively and when they lost, they tended to lose badly. The Finals were every bit the mismatch that they seemed to be. Things like this — particularly how the team performed in Friday night’s elimination game — will probably explain why James chooses to depart in search of a team with a better shot at dethroning Golden State, if he does, in fact, leave Cleveland.