• Full Coverage: 2022 NBA Finals
The 2022 NBA Finals is three games behind them so far, and to date, the Boston Celtics are halfway to an NBA title as they lead 2-1. But how did the teams stack up in terms of stats? Below we take a closer look.
144 minutes were played in the first three games of the Finals, with Boston leading 69 of those minutes (47.9%) and Golden State leading 66 minutes (45.8%). There were also nine minutes of a draw (6.3%). There have been a total of 20 lead changes and 12 draws so far, but most of those came from the first two games in San Francisco. In their first Finals game at home in 12 years, the Celtics led 47 of 48 minutes in a game that saw just three lead changes.
Much of Boston’s +17 rebound advantage in The Finals came in Game 3 when the Celtics won the boards 47-31 overall and 15-6 on offensive glass. While Golden State’s Kevon Looney is the series’ top overall rebounder (23) and offensive rebounder (10), the Celtics got the job done as a collective as they have seven of the series’ top rebounders, led by Jaylen Brown and Al Horford with 22 boards each.
Brown has secured the rebound on 73% of his rebound chances*, the second-highest rate of any player with a total of seven or more rebounds behind only teammate Payton Pritchard (83%).
(* = A player has a chance of rebounding if he is the closest player to the ball at any time between the time the ball has passed under the rim and the time it has rebounded completely.)
Looking at these traditional stats, the only significant advantage Warriors have is in steals (+11). Much like Boston’s lead in rebounding, much of that advantage was built during Golden State’s Game 2 win when they made 15 steals — the most in a finals game since Game 2 of the 2017 Finals when Cleveland made 15 steals in a loss to Golden State would have . Our very own John Schuhmann looked at those steals (live ball turnover for the Celtics) in his Game 2 Finals stats for this game.
What separates the Celtics and Warriors in three games are two field goals (116-114) and five free throws (43-38), all in Boston’s favour. The teams are even in 3-pointers at 49 apiece, although Boston makes 3-pointers at a higher percentage. Looking back at Golden State’s six Finals runs since 2015, the Warriors have allowed over 40% shots from 3-point range in just one series prior to those Finals — as Portland did 42.8% from 3-point range in the 2016 Western Conference Semifinals lap.
Boston has made five more free throws (and attempted seven more) than Golden State. The key stat to look at here is Drives to the Basket, where Boston has a 155-114 advantage in total drives and a 15-10 advantage in free throws executed on drives. The Celtics have pulled twice as many fouls as the Warriors when driving to the basket.
A statistic that has been linked to the winner of all three games is points in the suit – the team that wins that fight has won every game. Boston had a 34-26 advantage in Game 1, Golden State led 40-24 in Game 2, and Boston had it 52-26 in Game 3 (as Schuhmann points out here).
Given the league’s top-tier defense — 106.2 defensive ratings in the regular season, 105.1 in the postseason leading up to the Finals — the Warriors need to use transition opportunities to score easy baskets before the Celtics’ crushing defenses are put up can. Holding the edge at the break doesn’t guarantee a win, though: Golden State beat Boston 18-4 in fast-break points in Game 3 … and still lost by 16.
The Celtics (15.4%) and Warriors (15.1%) turned the ball at similar rates during the playoffs and particularly during the Finals. In Game 1, Boston outscored the Warriors by 11 points in turnover (21-10) to end in a 12-point win. In Game 2, it was Golden State’s turn to capitalize on Boston’s mistakes and secure an 18-point lead (33-15) in points from turnovers in a 19-point win. The only game that didn’t stay in form was Game 3 when Golden State won the battle for points with no turnover 19-17 but lost 116-100.
While the Celtics are unlikely to match the 119.2 offensive rating they achieved in the first round with the Brooklyn Nets, their 113.3 offensive rating in three games is better than in each of the last two rounds against the Milwaukee Bucks (108.8) and Miami Heat (110.7). Meanwhile, Golden State’s 110.5 offensive rating is well behind against the Dallas Mavericks (120.3) and Denver Nuggets (121.9), but slightly better than against the Memphis Grizzlies (108.3).
The similarities in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage illustrate how close this series is. However, one statistic is surprising Not close is support percentage. The Celtics use the pass to create scoring chances at a much higher rate than the Warriors.
During the regular season, the Warriors led the NBA in assist percentage, with more than two-thirds of their goals (66.9%, to be exact) coming from an assist. On the other hand, Boston ranked 14th with 60.9%. In the postseason (before these Finals), the Warriors were the top team in terms of assist percentage (66.9%), while the Celtics rose to second place (65.5%). But since the start of the Finals, Golden State’s assists have dropped to 62.3% and Boston’s is in a different stratosphere at 73.3%.
Some of that drop must be attributed to the Boston defense, which disrupted Golden State’s normally free-flowing, pass-heavy offense. But if we look at the numbers, the Warriors’ passing cadence is from the regular season (310.3 passes per game, 2nd in the NBA) to the pre-Finals playoffs (281.6 passes per game, 5th out of 16 teams) steadily decreased. and now down to 267 passes per game in three games of the Finals – 23 fewer passes per game than the Celtics.