With the Cleveland Cavaliers having won their opening game of the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs, they’ve taken a tiny step toward their goal of an NBA title. To accomplish that, they need to win 15 more games along the way. Even reaching the finals will still likely present a monumental task as they search for a way to beat either of the two Western Conference favorites, the Golden State Warriors or the San Antonio Spurs.
However, given the collective talent on the Cavaliers, they’re capable of accomplishing it. What follows are eight things that have to happen in order for the Cavs to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy, with a strong emphasis on some of the benchmark statistics that have played a role in the team’s success.
1. Thompson on the Offensive Boards
Tristan Thompson’s calling card is his innate ability to rebound the ball. However, one specific aspect of his rebounding ability usually results in a Cavalier victory. That comes on the offensive side of the boards, with the team holding a 28-6 record this season when he grabs at least four on that side of the court—as he did in the victory over the Pistons. When that number is five or more, the Cavs have been virtually unbeatable, sporting a 17-1 record.
Last year, Thompson earned additional millions in his subsequent contract, thanks to a standout postseason. In 11 of the team’s 14 playoff victories, he was able to reach or break that threshold of four offensive rebounds.
Next: A Productive Bench