BREAKING NEWS: What the Cleveland. Cavaliers can learn from the Boston Celtics creating NBA history…

The Boston Celtics highlight a trend that could have significant ramifications for the Cleveland Cavaliers after making zero free throws in an NBA game for the first time ever.

Numerous NBA fans have been grumbling for years about the game’s softening and excessive flopping. After hearing the clamour, Commissioner Adam Silver and the higher authorities made the decision to act. It appears that the NBA referees have been told to call less fouls and allow the players to play more physically, as seen by both the eye test and the March free throw statistics. Many fans are cheering this adjustment since it means that games are moving more quickly and rewarding fewer flops.

Although the league hasn’t officially acknowledged this, it’s evident from the data that a focus on reducing the number of fouls and free throws was placed after the All-Star Break. This is probably because of all the grievances expressed by the public and media on the flops and supportive calls for celebrities. It may be aggravating to watch players like James Harden, Joel Embiid, Trae Young, and Luka Doncic because they knew when and how to exaggerate contact in order to reach the free throw line.

Celtics set unprecedented NBA record with zero free throw attempts in loss  to Bucks | Marca

The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics tied an NBA record by attempting just two free throws during the whole contest on Tuesday. For the first time in NBA history, the Celtics finished the game with zero trips to the charity stripe. Perhaps the goal of both sides’ defensive play was to keep the opposing team from getting to the free throw line. This is a startling figure that tells a lot about the wider picture even if that is the case.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics tied an NBA record by attempting just two free throws during the whole contest on Tuesday. For the first time in NBA history, the Celtics finished the game with zero trips to the charity stripe.

Throughout March, teams have averaged only 19.7 free throw attempts per game, marking a new low across the Association since 1950-51. This is an incredible stat. A month is a large sample size to showcase that this is not a coincidence or fluke. The NBA is trying to cut down on free throws and keep the games moving at a faster pace with less disruption.

This is not only having an impact on the team level, but superstars are seeing less free throw attempts on an individual level. Last year, four players (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, and Luka Doncic) averaged over 10 free throws a game for the season. This season, only one player (Antetokounmpo) is averaging over 10, and Luka Doncic is second in the league averaging 8.7 attempts per game. For further reference, that figure would have been seventh in the NBA last season.

This mid-season change could have a big impact on which top teams in the NBA will be able to have a long postseason run. So, the question is – how will this impact the Cavaliers’ postseason chances of success? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the new rules from the Cavs’ perspective.

Boston Celtics become first team in NBA history to shoot zero free throws  in a game during bizarre loss to Milwaukee Bucks | CNN

The good news is that the Cleveland Cavaliers offensive playstyle is not dependent on going to the free throw line. The big men, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, don’t look to initiate and oversell contact when around the rim and are more focused on scoring than drawing a foul. This is reflected by Allen only averaging free throws a game, and Mobley with 3.5 a game.

Donovan Mitchell is Cleveland’s most physical offensive player when healthy, but he also relies on outside shooting for a lot of his points. Mitchell leads the team with 5.8 free throws per game – not an extraordinarily high figure. Darius Garland is the only player on the team that has a tendency to flop or exaggerate contact. As an undersized guard, Garland’s only opportunities for free throws requires a hard sell when driving into a post filled with giants. Unfortunately, it clearly is not effective, as Garland averages only 3.1 free throws a game.

As a team, the Cavs are 24th in the league in free throw attempts with 20.4 a game (the Celtics and Nuggets are 25th and 29th respectively). This can be a promising statistic, as the game tends to get even more physical in the postseason while the officials will call even fewer fouls. Successful teams need to be able to generate offense without getting easy trips to the foul line. Good outside shooting and strong finishers around the rim are two good ways to get points when the quality of play raises up a level. The Cavaliers are capable of doing both of things with a slew of shooters, Donovan’s ability to finish and two seven-footers around the rim.

Another potential pro of these rule changes is Cleveland’s defense having a raised ceiling. The Cavs already have a strong defense despite their recent issues. They are seventh in the league in opponent’s points per game and sixth in the league in opponent field goal percentage; however, they can go up a level if they learn how to utilize a more physical approach. The Cavaliers have multiple talented defenders like Max Strus, Isaac Okoro and Dean Wade alongside their starting frontcourt.. If these players can learn to lean into the more physical rules without consequence, the Cavaliers could be a defensive juggernaut in the playoffs.

On the other end, the Cavs’ offense may struggle to find an answer to physical defenses. Many Cavaliers fans would point to the same glaring flaw in the team, being too soft too often. The Cavs have been criticized frequently for being too soft and getting pushed around by more physical teams. This was on full display in the 2023 playoff series against the New York Knicks. The Cavaliers led the 2023 postseason in two crucial statistics; offensive rebounds allowed per game and turnovers.

The Knicks bullied the Cavs and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds per game in the series, and Cleveland also turned it over 15.2 times per game. The Cavaliers were indeed “too soft” in the playoffs that year. They let the Knicks push them around, grab every rebound and take the ball from them. This flaw could compound now that the NBA officials are allowing a more physical game. If teams can ramp up the aggression even more, the Cavs could be in for a difficult postseason.

Ultimately, this is all on the players to change the narrative and take advantage of their playoff opportunity. Donovan Mitchell and the rest of the Cavaliers need to raise their toughness and rise to the occasion when it is finally time for the postseason. This year has no excuses, and Cleveland has all the pieces to make a larger impression in the playoffs if they are willing and able to absorb contact and play through the physicality.

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