Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Cavs (2/2/13)

Rebounds and turnovers are great, but if the Cavs are to take down OKC, Kyrie and crew will have to win the eFG% battle.

The Thunder had few problems dispatching the Grizzlies and now are back on the road, although fortunately for them the game is against the lowly Cavaliers.

Searching for an Advantage

The Thunder are running into a Cavs team that does not do a whole lot well. But in some senses, Cleveland has a matchup advantage in a couple of areas. The Cavs are an above average rebounding team with an offensive rebounding percentage of 29.1 percent, ninth-best in the NBA. Oklahoma City is a below average rebounding team with an ORB percentage of 26.9 percent, 16th in the game. It is a similar story for turnovers, in which the Thunder are second-worst in the league in turnover percentage at 14.9 percent, while Cleveland ranks ninth-best at 13.5 percent.

However, the reality is that an advantage in two key categories is often no advantage at all for Oklahoma City’s opponents. Take a look at the most recent game against Memphis. The Grizzlies absolutely destroyed the Thunder on the boards with an ORB percentage advantage of 35.0 percent to 12.9 percent. The also easily won the turnover battle with a turnover percentage of 10.9 percent to the Thunder’s 16.2 percent.

None of that mattered. Why? Because the Thunder shot with an effective field goal percentage of .590, while the Grizzlies went .378. That is all too familiar a story for good teams, let alone bad ones like the Cavs.

Force Deep Misses

What hope then could Cleveland possibly have against a team that can often win solely on the strength of ranking third in eFG percentage and eFG percentage allowed? Perhaps they should look at the formula Washington and Minnesota, two other weak teams, used to defeat the Thunder. In both of those games, Oklahoma City shot well below its season average with an eFG% of .463 against the Wizards and .433 against the Timberwolves. The primary reason was that Oklahoma City missed a lot of threes, going 6-25 against Washington and 5-20 against Minnesota.

If the Cavs can force the Thunder into taking a lot of contested threes, they just might have a chance. Of course, with the 26th-ranked three point defense, it is also a risk to assume that Cleveland can force anybody into taking contested threes.

Cleveland has won three out of five, the same as Oklahoma City. Of course momentum is not exactly equal as the Thunder just beat a good Grizzlies team while the Cavs lost last night to lowly Detroit.