Does adjusting for playoff rotations show Cavaliers’ burden?

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A team’s won-loss record, seed and point difference tell us something about its quality.

But by this point, the second round of the playoffs, many of the players involved in assembling that won-loss record, seed and point difference have changed.

Teams have made in-season trades and signed players after buyouts. Injuries have happened. Rotations have been shortened.

As we did before the playoffs:

I’ve found how many points per 100 possessions teams score and allow when five players projected to be in the postseason rotation are on the floor together.

This is hardly a perfect measure. Teams rarely announce their playoff rotations, so we’re left with my predictions of which players will receive regular playing time. The minutes distribution among players in the adjusted rating can vary from what it’ll be during the playoffs. This doesn’t take into account opponent quality. Some teams have larger samples than others.

But I find it useful, another data point among the many necessary to evaluate the upcoming playoffs. It shows how the players we project to see on the court for the next few months have played together, without someone else affecting the chemistry.

Here’s each team’s offensive, defensive and net ratings adjust from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) that include five players projected to be in the playoff rotation (using nbawowy! to calculate):

Eastern Conference

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 114.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 109.2 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.2 to +5.8

3. Toronto Raptors

  • Offensive rating: 113.1 to 116.8 to 113.8
  • Defensive rating:  108.9 to 106.6 to 108.1
  • Net rating: +4.2 to +10.2 to +5.7

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 116.5 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.7 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.8 to +5.1

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Offensive rating: 114.4 to 118.0 to 117.9
  • Defensive rating:  111.1 to 112.1 to 113.6
  • Net rating: +3.3 to +5.9 to +4.3

Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors

  • Offensive rating: 116.6 to 121.7 to 122.9
  • Defensive rating:  104.9 to 102.9 to 102.8
  • Net rating: +11.7 to +18.8 to +20.1

3. Houston Rockets

  • Offensive rating: 115.5 to 118.5 to 118.1
  • Defensive rating: 109.7 to 109.5 to 109.2
  • Net rating: +5.8 to +9.0 to +8.9

2. San Antonio Spurs

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.4 to 116.3
  • Defensive rating: 104.2 to 106.9 to 108.1
  • Net rating: +7.5 to +8.5 to +8.2

5. Utah Jazz

  • Offensive rating: 110.7 to 112.5 to 112.9
  • Defensive rating:  106.4 to 107.2 to 104.7
  • Net rating: +4.3 to +5.3 to +8.2


  • The Warriors continue to soar above everyone else.
  • The Cavaliers, after a close sweep of the Pacers and better look at their playoff rotation, have the lowest adjusted net rating of the eight remaining teams. They can probably flip a switch, but this shows that’s necessary.
  • Every remaining Western Conference team has a higher adjusted net rating than every remaining Eastern Conference team.
  • I projected the Celtics’ and Wizards’ rotations before their Game 1 yesterday. Boston used a couple more players – Amir Johnson and Jaylen Brown – than I expected. Include them, and the Celtics’ adjusted net rating drops to +5.2.
  • Neither Raul Neto nor Shelvin Mack were included in the Jazz’s projected second-round rotation. Include one of the backup point guards, and Utah’s adjusted net rating drops between half a point and two points per 100 possessions.