The Cavaliers had a first quarter for the ages last night. As you might expect, it tied a franchise record for points in a quarter. It also tied an NBA record for 11 three pointers in a quarter. But I would wager that it also blows away any prior efficiency stats for a quarter.
Let's start with LeBron James. He scored 23 points on 9 shots. He was 3 for 3 on two pointers, 5 for 6 on three pointers, and 2 for 2 from the line. His overall shooting percentage was 88% and his effective field goal percentage was 117%. He made both his free throws, which would usually mean that his true shooting percentage would be higher - but it actually decreased a few tenths of a percent because his eFG was so insanely high.
Because LeBron's scoring was so spectacular it is easy to forget about the rest of the team. But the reality is that they were almost as efficient as LeBron. The team shot 16 for 21 overall - that's 76% right there. But when you add in the record 11 threes, the team's eFG goes up over 100% - to a little over 102%. Think about that for a minute. They only made 3 free throws in the first quarter, which means they scored 43 points on 21 shots. For an entire quarter, an NBA team scored more than 2 points for every shot they took.
When you look at the team player-by-player, only won, J.J. Hickson, was anything less than hyper-efficient in the quarter. Hickson missed his only two shots and also missed one of two free throws. So taking Hickson's 0 for 2 and LeBron's 8 for 9 out, the other seven Cavs who appeared in the first quarter combined to shoot 8 for 10 - with six three pointers! That's an eFG of 110%. I've always hated that 110% saying since it's so cliche and also mathematically illogical - but I guess it can truly be said that the LeBron's teammates gave 110% in that first quarter.
So while LeBron was ridiculously, once in a lifetime hot, it turns out his teammates (save for Hickson) were right there with him. Add in the fact that they turned the ball over only once in the quarter (and that turnover was offset by an offensive rebound) and it all makes for an amazing display that we are not likely to see again.
Can all/most/some of this be blamed on poor Clippers defense? Maybe some, but honestly not much. A few of the non-Bron threes were a little more open than they should have been (not that it would have mattered). But if you're going to double Shaq in the post, someone is going to be open. So while the closeouts may not have been perfect (they were better for instance in the second half), for the most part the Clippers picked their poison - and they got killed with it. As for LeBron's five threes, there was literally nothing they could do about them. Step backs with a guy on him, pull ups in transition, progressively deeper and deeper makes - these are shots you are willing and happy to give the guy - he would destroy you much more consistently if you took them away.