Cavaliers rate well when adjusting for playoff rotations. Warriors rate better

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This is the NBA Finals matchup we wanted all along.

Or close, at least.

It would have been a little better with a healthy Kevin Love and no injury questions about Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson.

But the teams are right.

The Warriors have ranked No. 1 when adjusting to playoff rotation at every step. The Cavaliers started second in the league (and way atop the Eastern Conference), dipped after Love’s injury and recovered to show their chops without him.

A reminder how these adjusted rankings are calculated:

In an attempt to get better data, I’ve used nba wowy! to rank playoff teams by regular-season net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only the lineups that include five players projected to be in the team’s post-season rotation.

This measure is far from perfect. It doesn’t account for opponent or weigh lineups based on how often they’ll be used in the postseason, and it’s impossible to precisely predict a team’s playoff rotation.

Here are the NBA Finalists’ ratings – actual regular-season to projected based on expected rotations:

1. Golden State Warriors

Projected rotation: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 114.0
  • Defensive rating: 101.3 to 97.1
  • Net rating: +10.4 to +16.9

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected rotation: Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova, James Jones

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 114.8
  • Defensive rating: 106.9 to 102.5
  • Net rating: +4.8 to +12.3

Observations:

  • The big question is injuries. I included Klay Thompson (who reportedly expects to play Game 1) and Kyrie Irving (whom David Blatt said hasn’t looked like himself in practice) in their teams’ rotations.
  • The Warriors rate a little worse without Thompson with an offensive rating/defensive rating/net rating of 109.9/96.0/+13.9 in 429 minutes. The drop is entirely on offense, as the defense rates slightly better.
  • The Cavaliers actually rate better overall – the gains coming entirely on defense – without Irving (114.1/93.7/+20.4 in 405 minutes). It’s easy to see how Cleveland fares better defensively without Irving, and in that limited sample, the offense holds up behind heavy usage from LeBron. That’s probably unsustainable over the long run against Golden State. Irving is key to the Cavaliers not over-taxing LeBron.
  • The Cavaliers appear to have a small offensive advantage, the Warriors a significant defensive advantage.
  • Golden State has used a nine-man rotation for most of the playoffs, Cleveland eight. If the Warriors are challenged, they can probably shorten their rotation and improve.

Nets fans post ‘missing’ posters of Ben Simmons before Game 3 (PHOTO)

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Ben Simmons did not perform well in Game 1 against the Brooklyn Nets. The Philadelphia 76ers star posted a stat line of just eight points with seven rebounds, three blocks, and three steals.

More concerning was Simmons’ apparent lack of desire to shoot. He seemed to fade in the big moments of the game, and scorn came swiftly for him social media after the 76ers loss. Philly fans even booed the Sixers on the court, which angered Simmons.

But Game 3 is upon us, although Joel Embiid is not playing,  and the series has shifted back to New York. As expected, fans in Brooklyn are doing their best to troll the Sixers.

Via Twitter:

We will see how Simmons responds after all of the back and forth about booing, not to mention his whole thing with Jared Dudley. If Simmons wants to be a star, now is the time to step up for his team with Embiid out.

Joel Embiid out with left knee soreness for Game 3 vs. Nets

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The Philadelphia 76ers will be without Joel Embiid on Thursday night as they take on the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of their first round series.

Embiid is battling left knee soreness and although he had a statistically-important performance as the Sixers took Game 2, it was obvious he was in some kind of reduced state of ability.

Veteran center Greg Monroe will start in Embiid’s place, but it will be hard for the Sixers to match Embiid’s production. The Cameroonian star is Philadelphia’s best player, and the 76ers are a hot and cold team.

Not having Embiid on the floor will seriously alter how they respond to the spunky Nets, who already took Game 1 from the higher-seeded Sixers.

The fact that Embiid needs to rest is also drawing some ire from folks on social media. The question is why Embiid did not rest earlier in the series — or even the end of the regular season when he was in and out of the lineup — and prepare for the coming playoff run?

However things go on Thursday, folks around the league will have their eyes glued to the injury report to see updates on Embiid’s status.

Grizzlies’ Kyle Anderson undergoes thoracic outlet decompression surgery

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Kyle Anderson was playing a solid role off the bench for the Grizzlies this season, 8 points and 5.8 rebounds a game, serving as a secondary ball handler and shot creator. Slo-mo was doing his thing.

However, by the end of January, the pain radiating from his shoulder — something he now says he had been playing through for a couple of years — got to be too much. He never played another game after Jan. 30.

Thursday he had thoracic outlet decompression surgery to relieve the problem. Anderson is expected to make a full recovery and be ready to go next training camp.

For comparison, this is the same surgery the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram had.

Anderson is on a very reasonable contract, three years and $28 million remaining. He can be part of what is going to be built in Memphis going forward, but if they are tearing down and rebuilding — meaning a summer trade of Mike Conley — he could bring back assets in a trade.

Either way, he should be healthy and ready to go next summer.

Jerry West on NBA draft: ‘I don’t know how you could pass Zion Williamson’

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A rumor started buzzing around NBA Twitter last week, a second-hand report that NBA legend and Clippers’ consultant Jerry West was praising Murray State guard Ja Morant, saying he would take him in front of the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.

The source of that rumor: comedian Jeff Garlin, saying it on the Dan Patrick Show.

Jerry West himself went on the Dan Patrick show Thursday and shot that down saying “it Would Be Like Passing Jordan in the draft.”

Two players were picked in front Jordan in the 1984 Draft. The Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon, and while Jordan went on to be Jordan nobody can fault the Rockets for how this picked turned out — two titles and a Hall of Fame big man in your organization is an amazing draft.

The one everyone talks about was Portland at No. 2, when executive Stu Inman and coach Jack Ramsey decided they were set on the wing in Clyde Drexler and needed a big man, so they selected Sam Bowie out of Kentucky. Bowie might have had an excellent NBA career if injuries had not plagued him, but he was no Jordan. It’s the ultimate NBA cautionary tale — draft the best player on the board, not according to need.

Williamson is projected by teams as the best player on the board. By far. Even the Morant fans have him a clear second. Plus, Williamson comes in hugely popular and a brand unto himself — he will sell tickets and sponsorships. Not drafting him would be a stupid business decision, not to mention a basketball one.

Whoever lands second in next month’s draft lottery will do well with Morant. Whoever is third will likely get R.J. Barrett out of Duke and… let’s just say that’s where it gets interesting.