While we work for the Dallas Mavericks rating players and lineups, after our Mavs were eliminated I rooted hard for LeBron and the Cavs. Like many others, I was very upset that the Cavs lost to the Magic and LeBron and Cleveland endured another year of frustration. The Cavs did not have to lose this series. The following two pieces of information tell us why they lost the series:
- In the 57 minutes during which Ben Wallace played and Joe Smith did not the Cavs were clobbered by 58 points. Adjusting for the strength of the Magic players in the game during this time, the Cavs played 40 points (per 48 minutes) worse than an average NBA team.
- In the rest of the series the Cavs dominated the Magic by 43 points in 236 minutes and played 18 points (per 48 minutes) better than average.
If the Cavs had played Joe Smith more with Wallace or had played Wallace less minutes, the NBA’s dream Cavs-Lakers series might have become reality.