Warriors, Cavaliers features best starters AND benches in 2017 NBA playoffs

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John Wall called the Wizards’ bench their “downfall” in the playoffs – a fair assessment. Washington’s starters outscored opponents by 4.7 points per 100 possessions and its bench got outscored by 15.5 points per 100 possessions – the biggest disparity this side of Oklahoma City.

I made this chart to illustrate the point:

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Even more glaring than the Thunder, look at the Cavaliers and Warriors in the top right corner. The NBA Finalists had – by far – the best and second-best starters AND benches (as defined by NBA.com) in the 2017 playoffs.

Golden State’s starters are +21.9 per 100 possessions and its bench is +7.8. Cleveland (+19.4, +8.6) has also excelled with both starters and reserves.

The Warriors boast a Finals MVP (Andre Iguodala) and two-time All-Star (David West) off their bench. The Cavs often have LeBron James run sweet-shooting reserve-heavy units (that include Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, Deron Williams, Richard Jefferson and Channning Frye).

After a lousy postseason so far, maybe these teams will provide 48 minutes of thrilling action each game of the Finals.

This is just the third matchup in the last 21 years (as far back as NBA.com records go) where the top two starters and benches through the first three rounds of the playoffs met in the Finals, joining Heat-Spurs in 2013 and 2014.

Here’s every Finals matchup in that span with starters rank, bench rank by net rating among the 16 playoff teams:

  • 2017: Golden State Warriors (1, 2) | Cleveland Cavaliers (2, 1)
  • 2016: Cleveland Cavaliers (1, 1) | Golden State Warriors (2, 3)
  • 2015: Golden State Warriors (2, 4) | Cleveland Cavaliers (1, 2)
  • 2014: San Antonio Spurs (1, 2) | Miami Heat (2, 1)
  • 2013: Miami Heat (1, 2) | San Antonio Spurs (2, 1)
  • 2012: Miami Heat (2, 1) | Oklahoma City Thunder (3, 2)
  • 2011: Dallas Mavericks (2, 2) | Miami Heat (4, 1)
  • 2010: Los Angeles Lakers (3, 5) | Boston Celtics (2, 6)
  • 2009: Los Angeles Lakers (3, 3) | Orlando Magic (4, 2)
  • 2008: Boston Celtics (1, 10) | Los Angeles Lakers (2, 5)
  • 2007: San Antonio Spurs (2, 4) | Cleveland Cavaliers (7, 1)
  • 2006: Miami Heat (2, 1) | Dallas Mavericks (1, 3)
  • 2005: San Antonio Spurs (4, 1) | Detroit Pistons (2, 5)
  • 2004: Detroit Pistons (1, 6) | Los Angeles Lakers (2, 4)
  • 2003: San Antonio Spurs (2, 1) | New Jersey Nets (1, 5)
  • 2002: Los Angeles Lakers (4, 7) | New Jersey Nets (5, 8)
  • 2001: Los Angeles Lakers (1, 1) | Philadelphia 76ers (8, 3)
  • 2000: Los Angeles Lakers (2, 3) | Indiana Pacers (7, 2)
  • 1999: San Antonio Spurs (1, 3) | New York Knicks (2, 1)
  • 1998: Chicago Bulls (1, 2) | Utah Jazz (5, 1)
  • 1997: Chicago Bulls (1, 5) | Utah Jazz (2, 11)