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Just The Sports: Eastern Conference Playoff Breakdown (Cleveland vs. Washington)

Just The Sports

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Eastern Conference Playoff Breakdown (Cleveland vs. Washington)

Cleveland (4) vs. Washington (5)

As expected, this matchup between the fourth and fifth seeds of the Eastern Conference pits two similar teams against one another. Cleveland has the better record, having won eight more regular season games than Washington, but Washington won the season series between the two teams 1-2. However, as is the case with most teams who lock up playoff spots early, Cleveland did not appear to take the last game these two teams played, as evidenced by all twelve active players logging minutes during the game. Since that game is an anomaly because of the minute distribution, it really should not be considered. Therefore, during the season, when both teams were taking games seriously, Cleveland and Washington split their meetings.

Looking closely at the team statistics demonstrates neither team has a considerable advantage over the other.

Cleveland Offense: 97.7 ppg
Washington Defense: 99.9 ppg

Washington Offense: 101.5 ppg
Cleveland Defense: 95.5 ppg

As a quick glance will tell you, these statistics are inconclusive.

Since Washington plays at a faster pace than Cleveland does, averaging three more possessions a game, the only true way to gauge how efficiently both teams play is to look at how many points a team scores and gives up per 100 possessions.

Cleveland Offense: 108 points per 100 possessions
Washington Defense: 107 points per 100 possessions

Washington Offense: 109 points per 100 possessions
Cleveland Defense: 106 points per 100 possessions

There is no great difference between the two teams in terms of efficiency, but there is a difference. While Cleveland's offense basically scores as many points as Washington's defense gives up, Washington's offense holds a three-point edge over Cleveland's defense. This gives Washington a net advantage of +2 points per 100 possessions. In other words, a lay-up.

With a small advantage like that, the series remains a toss-up between these two teams. However, there still remains the little question of who gets the most production out of the five positions. Thanks to John Hollinger for coming up with the PER rating and for being so kind as to post this on the Internet so as to make it free to anyone with a computer.

Point Guard-The Cleveland Cavaliers have gotten absolutely no production from their points guards this season. None. The net production from Cleveland's points guards this year is a horrendous -9.6. Washington, in complete contrast, has Gilbert Arenas, one of the top ten players in the NBA, playing the point guard position. Having Arenas is reflected in the Washington point guards have a net production of +6.8. Advantage: Washington

Shooting Guard-Neither team has an above average shooting guard. What gives Washington the nod when it comes to this position is its shooting guards are average while Cleveland's are below average. The net production of the two teams, -1.7 to -5.0 respectively, bears out the talent disparity between the two teams' shooting guards. Advantage: Washington

Small Forward-Two words. Lebron James. Cleveland's small forward net production of +12.3 certainly gives the team the upper hand over Washington's small forwards, who have a net production of +2.3. Advantage: Cleveland

Power Forward-Like the shooting guard position, neither team gets great production from this position. Or any net positive production. Nevertheless, Cleveland does hold a slight edge over Washington in this category at -0.2 to -0.5. Advantage: Cleveland

Center-At this position, Cleveland holds a substantial margin over Washington. The net production of Cleveland's centers is +6.9. The net production of Washington's centers is -1.9. You do the math. Advantage: Cleveland

Prediction: Although, Cleveland has an individual advantage at three positions, the total net advantage in terms of production goes to Washington with +0.6. So it looks like Lebron James will have to wait another year to win his first playoff series, unless Eric Snow, Cleveland's point guard, can continue to out-produce his season average like he did in the first game. Washington wins the playoff series in six or seven games.

Stats courtesy of


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