The Wizards beat the Cavaliers, 91-78 in front of a sold-out crowd at Verizon Center. Let's take at some numbers from the game to help explain how the win came about and identify areas where the Wizards can still improve.
Four Factors Analysis
Basketball statistician Dean Oliver identified four metrics as the "Four Factors of Basketball Success." The factors (with approximate weights per Basketball Reference), from most influential toward winning a game to the least:
- Effective Field Goal Percentage (40%)
- Turnover Percentage (25%)
- Rebounding Percentage (20%)
- Free Throw Factor (15%)
Basketball Reference has the formulas to calculate those figures. Below are the Four Factors statistics for the Wizards and Cavaliers, first for the entire game and then by each individual quarter:
Once you have the Four Factors numbers for the game as well as by quarter, you can explain major trends in the game, whether they were good, bad, or ugly.
The Wizards consistently outshot the Cavaliers throughout the game - Even without considering a Four Factors analysis, the most important factor to winning a game is how well the team shoots the ball. The Wizards' eFG% (which gives additional weight to three point shots) was better than the Cavaliers, not only for the entire game (51.19% vs. 40%), but also for each individual quarter.
Yes, that includes the fourth quarter, when the Wizards just weren't able to buy a bucket for over six minutes. This is when their defense was able to hold Cleveland to 0-for-13 shooting in the last nine minutes of the game:
Cavaliers were 0-for-13 in the final nine minutes against the Wizards. Here's the shot chart: pic.twitter.com/4qxraqOCax— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) November 22, 2014
Another major area where the Wizards stood out was points in the paint, where the Wizards scored 50 points, while the Cavaliers scored just 34. They also took more shots at the basket, and were more efficient doing so. Washington shot 22-of-39 (56.4%) while Cleveland just shot 15-of-30 (50%) with these baskets.
Forcing turnovers in the first half - The Cavaliers committed 12 turnovers in the first half and had a TOV percentage above 20 in both the first and second quarters. The Wizards were also able to extend their lead into double digits for the first time by scoring 11 points off of six turnovers during the second quarter as well.
Washington entered the Cavaliers game eighth in the NBA for defensive rating (103.0 points per 100 possessions). While their defensive eFG% average is only 14th in the NBA, their TOV% is at 15.7%, good for fourth in the league. When the Wizards are able to force opponents to a TOV% close to 20%, that will significantly increase their chances of winning, especially if they are shooting well themselves.
The Wizards had a strong rebounding night - For the game, the Wizards out-rebounded Cleveland slightly, 45-41. They also had 10 offensive rebounds compared with Cleveland's nine. Washington's offensive rebounding advantage was most evident in the second quarter, when they had four offensive rebounds compared with Cleveland's zero in that period.
The Wizards' ORB% also was higher than the Cavaliers' in every quarter except the third. Even though the Cavaliers were better in that area, the Wizards had their highest eFG% in the game when John Wall scored 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
Turnovers in the second half - The Wizards only committed six turnovers in the first half compared to the Cavaliers' 12. They also had a lower TOV% than the Cavaliers then as well. But in the second half, this was reversed, when the Wizards committed 11 turnovers compared with the Cavaliers' seven.
Cold shooting in the fourth quarter - The Wizards' eFG% of 32.35 percent in the last 12 minutes of the game is still bad, even though the held the Cavaliers to an even lower figure. Being scoreless for a six-minute period from 7:53 to 1:25 left in the game isn't something to be proud of. Most of the time, a cold stretch like this will lead to a loss.
The Wizards' assist advantage tailed off in the second half - The Wizards' ball movement was one of the three things we learned that I pointed out on the recap right after the game. I was pleased that they had 15 assists as a team in the first half, while limiting Cleveland to just five. But in the second half, the Wizards had nine assists while the Cavs had eight.
Yes, there will be some "regression toward the mean" as time goes on during a game, but I do feel that they should have taken better care of the ball in the first part of the third quarter. The Wizards committed five turnovers in the first six minutes of the period. Yikes!
Free Throw Rate - The Cavaliers attempted 23 free throws Friday, while the Wizards only attempted nine. This was probably the only part of the game which prevented this game from being a 20-point blowout in Washington's favor. Naturally, the FT/FGA statistic was totally in the Wine and Gold's favor.
Garrett Temple's cold streak - This doesn't touch on the Cleveland game specifically, but this is something that needs to be addressed as an "ugly" point because it is.
After starting out the season strong, Temple went scoreless in just nine minutes of time on the floor on Friday. He hasn't scored a single field goal since November 12 against the Detroit Pistons, and he hasn't made more than one basket. Yes, it's great to see that Bradley Beal is back. But we want to see Temple continue to develop a more consistent jump shot, even after he returns to being a bench rotation player. Hopefully Temple finds his mojo back soon.
The Wizards' Friday win over the Cavaliers was a complete game. Even when things were not working at all offensively in the fourth quarter, they still pulled their weight on defense and maintained a double digit lead for nearly the entire fourth quarter. In Saturday's game against the Bucks, the Wizards need to avoid the ugly scoring drought that they had Friday, and get to that free throw line.