The Warriors fell behind the Spurs, Thunder, Cavaliers, Raptors and Heat when adjusting for playoff rotation entering the second round of the playoffs.
But, to paraphrase Stephen Curry, they’re back.
A reminder how this works: I’ve used nba wowy! to rank teams by net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating) during the regular season and playoffs, 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 to 118.0
- Defensive rating: 105.1 to 106.8 to 106.4
- Net rating: +6.3 to +10.6 to +11.6
2. Toronto Raptors
- Offensive rating: 110.9 to 113.7 to 111.1
- Defensive rating: 106.0 to 104.2 to 105.1
- Net rating: +4.9 to +9.5 to +6.0
1. Golden State Warriors
- Offensive rating: 114.9 1 to 109.1 to 118.8
- Defensive rating: 104.1 to 103.8 to 99.7
- Net rating: +10.8 to +5.3 to +19.1
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
- Offensive rating: 113.6 to 117.3 to 116.7
- Defensive rating: 106.0 to 104.6 to 104.8
- Net rating: +7.6 to +12.7 to +11.9
- The top two adjusted net ratings belong to the Western Conference finalists.
- I included Andrew Bogut – who’s questionable for Game 1 – in a 10-man Warriors rotation. Remove Bogut, and Golden State’s adjusted offense/defensive/net rating actually improves to 122.9/102.8/+20.1. Obviously, the Warriors are better with Bogut available. But excluding him gives more weight to high-powered lineups with Draymond Green at center.
- If Bogut is healthy, Golden State can trim its rotation and become more potent. Dropping Marreese Speights improves the Warriors’ adjusted ratings to 120.3/99.6/+20.7. Dropping Festus Ezeli improves it to 120.8/100.5/+20.3. Drop both? It becomes 122.9/100.8/+22.1.
- The Thunder’s ratings worsened from 117.3/104.6/+12.7 entering the last round, even though Oklahoma City looked its most impressive while downing San Antonio. Why? The adjusted rankings are opponent-agnostic and don’t give more credit to recent games. So, teams often build strong adjusted ratings throughout the regular season and see them steadily fall during competitive playoff rounds. It would have been tough for the Thunder to outscore the Spurs by 12.7 points per 100 possessions, so anything less brings down the average. In fact, San Antonio outscored Oklahoma City in the series.
- The Raptors miss Jonas Valanciunas, whose injury kept him out of Toronto’s projected rotation here. If he can play, the Raptors’ adjusted ratings jump to 113.4/104.2/+9.2 – still short of the Cavs’, but much better.
- I counted the eight Raptors who played each game of the Heat series in the projected rotation, but Norman Powell didn’t play until garbage time of Game 7. Remove him, and Toronto’s adjusted ratings improve to 112.9/106.3/+6.3. That’s probably not enough to challenge Cleveland, but Dwane Casey could maximize the Raptors’ chances by keeping their rotation tight.
- If Toronto somehow pushes them, the Cavs have room to respond. Richard Jefferson is on the fringe of their rotation, and dropping him would improve their adjusted ratings to 119.9/106.7/+13.2.