The Cleveland Cavaliers set a record Wednesday night for making 25 three-pointers in an NBA game. The Cavs obviously shot the ball very well, but given the wine and golds recent performances it should not be surprising that they made threes at a historic rate. In fact the Cavs Game 2 performance was just an extension of their already record setting three point shooting during this year's playoffs. The Cavs have been making more three pointers than any other team in NBA playoff history. Per Kevin Pelton the Cavs had made 72 three's through their first five games of the playoffs, more than any other team has ever made in their first five playoff games.
I'm intrigued by this new world where the Cavaliers take and make more 3s than anyone else in the NBA.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) May 5, 2016
The question becomes: are the Cavs experiencing an uptick in made threes due to a hot shooting streak that is bound to regress to the mean or have Coach Lue and company implemented changes that have resulted in more made three pointers? The Cavs are undeniably hot from behind the arc right now, but there are a variety of changes to how the Cavaliers are playing that are having a positive effect on the Cavs three point shooting.
LeBron James is passing more out of drives than he did during the regular season. While LeBron's jump shot has been a conversation point during the playoffs it is LeBron's prowess as a passer that has been on display. When LeBron drives to the basket it requires the opposing defense to collapse, as it is impossible to stop him one-on-one when he decides to get to the rim. During the regular season LeBron would often still take it to the hole when the defense collapsed, but during the playoffs he has been more willing to pass out of these situations. These kick outs often set in motion the Vine worthy ball movement that has been all over Twitter during these last six games.
Cavs ball movement is so good it won't fit in the frame of a Vine. https://t.co/RLqHY0gn0V— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) May 5, 2016
Surrounding James with shooters when he is in supreme play maker mode only makes sense and Coach Lue has taken note. Kevin Love is playing more minutes at the five during the playoffs than he did during the regular season. Love, for all the criticism he receives, is an exceptional shooter for his position, especially if he is at center. When Coach Lue employs him as the teams center the Cavaliers spacing gets better, providing more open looks not only for Love but for his teammates as well. The Cavs have used Channing Frye in a similar fashion during the playoffs. Dellavedova-Shumpert-Jefferson-James-Frye lineups have seen the court in five of the teams six playoff games and have been shooting 50% from behind the arc.
These play style changes are resulting in some of the NBA's best shooters being in great positions to impact games. Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson are all shooting over 50% on catch and shoot threes during the playoffs and Cleveland leads all teams in catch and shoot 3P% during the playoffs as a result.
The Cavs shooting may cool off a bit, but these lineup and play style changes have had a tremendous impact on the team. If LeBron continues to distribute the ball like he has and Coach Lue continues to employ creative lineups the Cavaliers will have a good chance to become the best jump shooting team to ever win a title.
Stats courtesy of nba.com/stats unless otherwise noted.