Breaking Down Timofey Mozgov's Playoff Impact on the Cleveland Cavaliers
When Kevin Love ran off the court holding his shoulder in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics in the first round, the Cleveland Cavaliers' title odds were understandably called into question, especially with the Golden State Warriors still looking unbeatable.
Of course, the injury didn't alter the landscape too drastically, but the Cavs' series against the Chicago Bulls was roughly a coin flip, according to our algorithms.
Tristan Thompson has continued his elite offensive rebounding and is currently second in the playoffs among players with at least 20 minutes per game in offensive rebounding rate (gathering 14.4 percent of possible rebounds), but he may not even be the most integral big man on the roster down the stretch.
By nearly all accounts, Timofey Mozgov has been a sparkplug for the Cavaliers since joining them in mid-January.
Just check out his on/off splits to see how the Cavaliers have performed with and without Mozgov on the floor this season.
|Split||eFG%||Reb%||Blk%||ORtg||Opp eFG%||Opp Reb%||DRtg||Net Rtg|
Of course, his arrival in mid-January coincided with the Cavaliers' hot streak. Of course, LeBron had a lot to do with that, but even during their reversal of fortune, Mozgov wound up with the best Defensive Rating on the team. He was second to Thompson in Offensive Rating, too.
By season's end, Mozgov tied for second on the team -- still behind Thompson (120) -- and secured an Offensive Rating of 117 with the Cavs: the same as both Kyrie Irving and James Jones. On the defensive end, Mozgov tied with a duo of Cavs -- Love and James -- among players with at least 1,000 minutes in wine and gold by posting a team-high Defensive Rating of 105.
Mozgov's play meant nearly an 11-point swing (10.9) every 100 possessions for the Cavaliers, and his Net Rating (the difference between his Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating) of 12.6 ranked 14th among players with at least 20 minutes per game since February 1. Only Love (13.6) had a better Net Rating on the Cavs in that span.
Mozgov was really critical for the Cavs down the stretch, but he's been even better in the playoffs.
Mozgov in the Playoffs
I'll spare you the song and dance. Here are Mozgov's splits in the playoffs.
|Playoffs||eFG%||Reb%||Blk%||ORtg||Opp eFG%||Opp Reb%||DRtg||Net Rtg|
So, no, the team's Effective Field Goal Percentage isn't quite as good with him on the floor, and the team actually has a worse Offensive Rating (108.2) with him than without him (110.9), but 108.2 is still really solid (it would have tied with the Blazers and Pelicans for eighth in the regular season). Mozgov's impact is primarily felt on the defensive end.
The Cavs pull in nearly six percent more boards with Mozgov than without him, and they block more shots, as well. The difference in block percentage (just 1.0 percent) doesn't actually do Mozgov's shot blocking any justice. His personal rate (7.5 percent) is currently tied with Tim Duncan's mark in 2001-02 for 21st all-time in the playoffs.
That has helped them net a Defensive Rating of an absurd 93.7 with him, an 18.4-point difference compared to when he's been on the bench. His Net Rating (14.7) ranks fifth among current playoff players who average at least 20 minutes per game.
Mozgov -- practically no matter what he does -- will probably not earn the spotlight that his playoff production deserves. Granted, he didn't hit the game-winner in Game 4, but his Offensive Rating of 136 (thanks to 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists) was second on the team (again behind Thompson, who posted an absurd Offensive Rating of 178 in Game 4).
The Cavs currently own a 9.6 percent chance to win the title, which is fourth-highest among remaining teams. They're far off the pace of the Clippers (31.5 percent) or the Warriors (28.3 percent), but if Mozgov can continue to anchor the defense and provide efficient offense like he did in Game 4, then the Cavs, at the very least, could be making a return to the Finals despite a banged up Big Three.