† Full Coverage: NBA Finals 2022
The 2022 NBA Finals have been played through three games so far and to date, the Boston Celtics are halfway through the NBA title with a 2-1 lead. But how do the teams compare in terms of statistics? Below we take a look.
144 minutes were played in the first three games of The Finals, with Boston leading 69 minutes (47.9%) and Golden State leading 66 minutes (45.8%). In addition, there were nine minutes into the game (6.3%). There have been a total of 20 header changes and 12 draws so far, but most of those came from the first two games in San Francisco. In their first home final in 12 years, the Celtics led 47 out of 48 minutes in a game that saw just three changes of leadership.
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 the attacking glass. While Golden State’s Kevon Looney is the series’ best overall rebounder (23) and offensive rebounder (10), the Celtics got the job done as a collective as they have seven of the best rebounders in the series, led by Jaylen Brown and Al Horford with 22 planks each.
Brown has secured the rebound at 73% of his rebound odds*, the second-highest percentage of any player with seven or more total 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 when the ball has passed under the rim and when it has bounced back completely.)
Looking at these traditional stats, the only significant advantage for the Warriors is the steals (+11). Much like Boston’s lead in rebounding, much of this advantage was built during Golden State’s Game 2 win when they racked up 15 steals — the most in a finals game since Game 2 of the 2017 Finals when Cleveland had 15 steals had in a loss to Golden State. Our very own John Schuhmann dug into those steals (live ball turns for the Celtics) in his breakdown of the Game 2 Finals stats for that game.
What separates the Celtics and Warriors by three games is two field goals (116-114) and five free throws (43-38), all in Boston’s favor. The teams are even made in 3-pointers at 49 each, although Boston makes 3-pointers at a higher percentage. Looking back at Golden State’s six Finals runs since 2015, the Warriors have allowed more than 40% shots from a 3-point range in just one series in just one series—when Portland took 42.8% of the 3-point range shot in the 2016 Western Conference Semifinals.
Boston has so far made five more free throws (and also 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 made on drives. The Celtics have made twice as many mistakes as the Warriors when they drive to the ring.
A stat associated with the winner of all three games is points in the paint — the team that wins that battle has won every game. Boston had a 34-26 lead in Game 1, Golden State led 40-24 in Game 2 and Boston had it, 52-26, in Game 3 (as Schuhmann explains here).
Facing the league’s top-ranked defenses – 106.2 regular season defensive rating, 105.1 postseason in the Finals – the Warriors must take advantage of transitional opportunities to score easy baskets before the Celtics’ stifling defense can set up . Holding onto the lead at halftime doesn’t guarantee a win, though: Golden State defeated Boston 18-4 in fast-break points in Game 3…and still lost 16.
The Celtics (15.4%) and Warriors (15.1%) flipped the ball at the same pace during the playoffs and the final. In Game 1, Boston defeated the Warriors by 11 points on turnover (21-10) to finish with a 12-point win. In Game 2, it was Golden State’s turn to take advantage of Boston’s mistakes, leading by 18 points (33-15) in points turnover in a 19-point win. The only game that didn’t hold was Game 3, as Golden State won the points-of-turnover battle 19-17, but lost 116-100.
While the Celtics are unlikely to match the 119.2 offensive rating they posted in their first round of the Brooklyn Nets, their 113.3 offensive rating in three games is better than what they have seen in each of the past two. rounds against the Milwaukee Bucks (108.8 ) and Miami Heat (110.7). Meanwhile, Golden State’s offensive rating of 110.5 is way behind its performance against the Dallas Mavericks (120.3) and Denver Nuggets (121.9), but slightly better than how it did against the Memphis Grizzlies (108.3).
The similarities in the effective field target percentage and the actual shooting percentage illustrate how close this series is to each other. A statistic that is surprising, however: not close is the help percentage. The Celtics use the pass to create far more chances than the Warriors.
During the regular season, the Warriors led the NBA in assist percentage, as more than two-thirds of their baskets (66.9% to be exact) came from an assist. On the other hand, Boston was in 14th place with 60.9%. In the postseason (before these finals), the Warriors were the best team in assist percentage (66.9%), while the Celtics moved up to second place (65.5%). But since the start of the final, Golden State’s assists have fallen to 62.3% and Boston’s 73.3% in a different stratosphere.
Some of that drop off has to be attributed to the Boston defense, which disrupted Golden State’s normally free-flowing, pass-heavy offense. But looking at the numbers, the Warriors’ pass rate has steadily declined from the regular season (310.3 passes per game, second in NBA), to the playoffs prior to the Finals (281.6 passes per game, fifth of 16 teams), and now dropped to 267 passes per game over three games of the Finals – 23 fewer passes per game than the Celtics.