One Stat That Could Doom the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Title Chances


Cleveland Cavaliers fans, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. No team has ever won an NBA championship after attempting at least 2,000 three pointers in one regular season. Sorry to shatter the hopes and dreams of the millions and millions of the Wine and Gold faithful. Currently there are seven teams in the league that are over the 2,000 three pointer threshold (Cavs, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and the Atlanta Hawks). The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks will more than likely push that total to nine by season’s end.

More from NBA

In case you were wondering, the most three point attempts in a 82 game season for an eventual champion was 1,809 by the 2012-13 Miami Heat (per That total would be good for 14th place this season, just about at the league average. It’s possible LeBron could be a part of the two most potent three point shooting championship teams of all time.

To add to this, only one team all-time has attempted at least 2,000 threes in a season and made it to the finals. The Dwight Howard-led 2008-09 edition of the Orlando Magic featuring the likes of three-point sharp shooters Hedo Turkoglu, J.J. Redick, Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus chucked the pill 2,147 times from beyond the arc (from

Let’s compare that team with this year’s Cavaliers. With four games remaining, the Cavs have put up 2,135 threes. One-third of their shots are threes (stats from They will surely surpass the mark that the Magic set. By the end of the season next week, Cleveleand should be in the 2,200-plus range.

So why exactly haven’t three-point-heavy teams been able to succeed in the playoffs? It’s all a matter of pace and efficiency. Pace factor is a useful stat when comparing the change in how the game is played in the regular season compared to the playoffs. According to Pace factor looks at the number of possessions a team uses on a per game basis. This season the league average is about 86 possessions per game.  Now compare this to last year’s playoff pace. Last year in the playoffs, teams averaged about 81 possessions per game. That’s about five possessions less per game. To the average Joe, that might not look like a big number but in NBA standards that’s a lot.

The slower-paced game forces high volume three point shooting teams to play half court offense. The shrunken court disrupts the fast flow they were used to playing with during the regular season when possessions were up.

In terms of the Cavs, they are one of the slower teams in the association. They are in the bottom half of the league in pace factor, averaging about 95 possessions per game (per So expect that total to dip into the high 80s come playoff time.

This could become problematic for a Cleveland offense that relies heavily on pick and rolls and isolation to score more than just about any team in the NBA. Coach David Blatt and crew will have to create their threes through sets instead of improvisation skills from Kyrie Irving or LeBron.

The x-factor for them could be the post  play of LeBron. He has been very active in the post as of late. What he was able to do last Sunday against the Chicago Bulls could be the key to providing an efficient offense in the half court. James was able to post up Jimmy Butler and others, using an assortment of post moves to score. This created double teams, out of which James was able to find wide-open shooters on the perimeter.  Teams typically send a weak-side wing defender to double the post. In this case, someone like J.R. Smith would be sitting wide open for a three.

Another factor is the three-point shooting of Kevin Love. Kevin’s primary role in the offense is to provide spot-up shooting. Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry wrote about how Love has basically turned into Chandler Parsons. If LeBron is able to command double teams down low, Love must knock down open shots. This is much easier said than done. K-Love isn’t shooting as well as you would expect in terms of wide-open shots. I checked his advanced stats on and he only shoots at a 38% clip from deep on wide-open shots (the NBA classifies wide open shots as when defenders are six or more feet from the shooter). He will need to step up in that area if the Cavs want to get the most out of their half court offense output.

It’s also important to keep an eye out for the aforementioned J.R. Smith, who has become one of the league’s most lethal spot-up shooters.

The talent is definitely there, but the Cavs and their coaching staff must find ways to utilize their three point prowess in the confines of the half-court offense that the playoffs will constitute. If not,  they could meet the fate of historical three point juggernauts like the ’05-’06 Suns or last year’s Warriors.

Next: The Evolution of J.R. Smith