5 Statistics That Have Defined Cleveland Cavaliers' 2016-17 NBA Season
The last 12 days for the Cleveland Cavaliers have included a 2-4 record, an average of 114.8 points allowed and a (brief) fall from first in an Eastern Conference they've stood atop for the past few years.
Does anyone on the team care yet?
If defending champions can suffer a title hangover, then these Cavs have been praying to the porcelain gods for some time now.
What started out as a hungry, healthy and motivated group has quickly turned into $128 million worth of sleepwalking giants, set only to awake upon the start of the postseason.
As Cleveland's lackluster 2016-17 regular-season campaign thankfully comes to an end, these are the stats that will be most remembered in an otherwise forgettable year.
Greg Swartz covers the Cleveland Cavaliers for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Record 25 Threes in a Game, 945 for Season and Counting
These Cavs set the franchise record for team three-pointers (945 and counting), breaking the 880 they made last year, which overlapped the 826 converted the season before that.
It's safe to say we'll be having this conversation again next year.
Cleveland has made the three-ball an integral part of an offensive attack that's averaging 110 points per game, fourth in the NBA. The team ranks second in made three-pointers (12.9), attempts (33.6) and percentage (38.5).
Part of this surge is due to the league's newfound love for outside shooting, as new individual and team three-point records are falling on a regular basis.
The other is the Cavaliers' roster construction. With the best passing forward in NBA history, general manager David Griffin has done a tremendous job surrounding LeBron James with snipers.
Led by Kyle Korver (48.2 percent since the trade to the Cavs), Cleveland has a whopping 10 players making at least 37.3 percent on long-range shots. Seven of those players are taking at least two such shots per game.
After setting an NBA playoff record with 25 three-pointers against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup last spring, the Cavaliers set the league's regular-season mark by once again converting 25 against the Hawks on March 3.
The wild part? This most recent record was recorded without J.R. Smith or Kevin Love, both of whom were still rehabbing from thumb and knee surgeries. The pair averages a combined 4.6 threes per game, meaning we may see the Cavaliers beat their own record before long.
110.4 Defensive Rating, 22nd in NBA
Defense hasn't been a strong suit for these Cavs.
After finishing a respectable 10th in defensive rating a year ago, Cleveland has been abysmal on that end of the floor nearly all season.
Over their past 14 games, the Cavaliers have sported the worst defense in the NBA. This is the time of year that veteran players are being shut down and teams are tanking for draft position, and yet Cleveland still plays worse D than anyone.
Apparently, head coach Tyronn Lue has been implementing a new scheme in practices over the past few weeks in preparation for the postseason, a tactic that's causing the current units to suffer.
"We've got to hold back. We can't show our hand early because ... these are some good teams and we don't want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do," Lue said. "We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens."
"You want to build something defensively so you can always have something to go to in the postseason," James said. "It's been more down than up. So not room for concern but we want to be more up than down, especially defensively coming down the stretch."
20 Different Roster Members
The opening day roster that Cleveland trotted out is far different than the one it currently employs.
Since late October, the Cavaliers have replaced Mo Williams, Mike Dunleavy, Jordan McRae and Chris Andersen with Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams and Larry Sanders. Andrew Bogut also spent 58 seconds on the court before being waived due to a broken tibia, collecting $383,351 for his efforts.
GM Griffin made all of these roster changes despite doing nothing at the trade deadline. He acquired Bogut, Sanders and both Williams' via free agency, remarkably giving up nothing in the process. Only Korver cost the team a 2019 first-round pick.
"This has been one of the most challenging seasons of my career just because of all the injuries," James said. "It's been very challenging on our ballclub, the lineups and different guys in and out. We get one guy come in and then we get another guy out."
Smith missed three months with a broken thumb. Love was out a month following arthroscopic knee surgery. Along the way, Korver (foot), Kyrie Irving (hamstring) and Iman Shumpert (shoulder) have missed time as well. Only Tristan Thompson has played every game this season.
The Cavs' starting five of James, Irving, Love, Smith and Thompson has only played a total of 370 minutes together this year. In the 2016 playoffs alone, these same five shared the court for 371 minutes.
Overall, this is an improved roster from the beginning of the season, if only all (or most) would stay healthy at the same time.
37.5: LeBron's Minutes Per Game, 2nd in NBA
At 32 years of age and playing in the past six NBA Finals (and 11 straight playoffs overall), it appeared this would be a prime season to start cutting back on James' minutes.
Instead, James has played more than ever since his return to Cleveland. He trails only Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors (37.7) for the highest minutes per game in the league.
Per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the plan was for James to start off the year strong before easing up in March as a rest for the postseason. Still, at 37.2 minutes for the month, this obviously hasn't happened.
"He don't want the taper," Tyronn Lue said, via Fedor. "It's crazy because earlier in the season he said, 'I wanted to play this amount of minutes,' now he's saying 'I need to get in playoff shape so I need to continue to keep playing the same amount of minutes.' We'll see how it goes."
James has missed six games this season (five for rest), so his total minutes are only 12th overall. Still, he stands as the only player (other than Carmelo Anthony) 32 or older in the NBA's top 20 in court time, per ESPN.com.
At some point, James' playing time will have to come down. He's already appeared in 199 playoff games (the equivalent of nearly two-and-a-half full seasons) and is on pace for a seventh straight trip to the finals.
Yeah, you already know what those numbers stand for.
On the inside, however, they represent a relaxed knowing that any obstacle can be overcome, so who cares about poor performances now?
The Cavaliers have played with little to no urgency seemingly all season. They also have more losses this year (26) than last (25) with nine games left to play. Punishing losses to the Golden State Warriors (126-91 on Jan. 16) and San Antonio Spurs (103-74 on March 27) can be expected, but Cleveland has also dropped games to the lowly New Orleans Pelicans (without Anthony Davis), Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks as well.
Yes, there's the occasional frustration that exudes in postgame locker rooms. But what's been done to combat this poor play?
The Cavaliers are just 7-10 since Feb. 25 and very much going through the motions. They know there's no team in the Eastern Conference that will present a serious threat in a seven-game series. A path to the finals is almost guaranteed, provided they choose to give some effort.
It all goes back to 3-1, a number that signifies the most improbable feat in basketball history. The sooner Cleveland can forget about last year's accomplishments, however, the better chance it has to repeat as champions.
At least it appears Irving, for one, is admitting the Cavs can't hang their collective hat on last year (per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne):
We know we have the culture here. We know we have the guys. We know when we're not playing up to our level. We just allow it to pass and pass and it turns out to kind of be a s--t show.
We need it. It's just a wake-up call, so. Whatever you want to call it, we know what to expect from one another, we've done it at a high level. Now we gotta do it at an even different level.
Yes, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit in the finals was great. It was cool. It also means nothing now, except that it comes with a mentality that must translate to 2016-17.
The Cavs need to discover the same hunger they had when the city was on a 52-year title drought. Play as though every possession has meaning, which it will. Defense can no longer be optional.
It's time to forget about 3-1 and start worrying about 16.
Greg Swartz is the Cleveland Cavaliers Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @CavsGregBR.