The Warriors and Cavaliers were clearly the best teams in their conferences during the regular season.
Adjusting for playoff rotations only furthered those teams’ advantages.
Does Cleveland maintain its big lead in the East?
I’ve used nba wowy! to rank Eastern Conference playoff teams by net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating) during the regular season and first round, counting only lineups that include five players in the team’s postseason rotation. Here’s each team’s rating, from the regular season adjusted to only lineups that include five players projected to be in the second-round rotation:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Offensive rating: 111.4 to 117.4
- Defensive rating: 105.1 to 106.8
- Net rating: +6.3 to +10.6
2. Toronto Raptors
- Offensive rating: 110.9 to 113.7
- Defensive rating: 106.0 to 104.2
- Net rating: +4.9 to +9.5
3. Miami Heat
- Offensive rating: 107.2 to 112.5
- Defensive rating: 105.3 to 106.7
- Net rating: +1.9 to +5.8
4. Atlanta Hawks
- Offensive rating: 105.9 to 105.4
- Defensive rating: 103.0 to 101.8
- Net rating: +2.9 to +3.6
- The order of these teams matches seed, which leaves the Cavs at the top.
- The Raptors narrowed the gap – from where they stood overall in the regular season and adjusted for playoff rotation entering the first round – with Cleveland. Key for Toronto: Removing Luis Scola from the rotation. Though he’s a fine player, the Raptors have fared better with him off the court.
- Gerald Green was barely in the Heat’s first-round rotation. Remove him, and Miami’s adjusted offensive/defensive/net rating jumps to 115.3/106.8/+8.5. That’s still not as good as the Raptors’, but it’s much closer.
- The Hawks have less ability to change their adjusted rating by trimming their fringe rotation players, Mike Muscala and Tim Hardaway Jr. Drop those two and Atlanta’s adjusted rating gets a little worse: 105.6/102.3/+3.3. If the Cavs play up to their potential, I’m not sure the Hawks have a gear that can match hit. But it will be interesting to see the conference’s best adjusted offense (Cleveland) face its best adjusted defense (Atlanta).