What the San Antonio Spurs have done over the last 49 days is unprecedented. Their 20-game winning streak is tied for the the third longest in NBA history. And it has stretched 10 games into the postseason, when the stakes are higher and the competition is tougher. (The NBA record for the hottest start to a playoff run is 11 straight, pulled off by the 1988-89 Lakers.)
Of course, you don’t win 10 straight postseason games without playing well on both ends of the floor. The Spurs have been a terrific offensive team all year, leading the league by scoring 108.5 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. But their defense has improved in the playoffs and they’ve taken their offensive efficiency to a new level over the course of the last 20 games…
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
The Spurs aren’t rebounding any better and they have actually been turning the ball over more. They’re getting to the line a little more often, but the biggest difference offensively has been their shooting from the field…
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA
The shooting has been incredible from both inside the arc and beyond it. And it has improved from every area except the corners…
Spurs field goal percentage
|Span||Restricted Area||Paint (Non-RA)||Mid-Range||Corner 3||Above the Break 3|
The biggest key in the restricted area has been the health of Manu Ginobili, who has shot an incredible 47-for-61 (77 percent) from the restricted area during the winning streak. Tim Duncan, meanwhile, has been shooting close to 50 percent (44-for-92) from mid-range over the last 20 games.
The improvement from beyond the arc has really come from three guys. Danny Green (21-for-47, 45 percent), Gary Neal (21-for-37, 57 percent) and Boris Diaw (11-for-16, 69 percent) have all been on fire on above-the-break 3s during the streak.
The Spurs need those guys to make shots, but their offense comes from the system more than the players within it. And there are two obvious system-based keys to the Spurs’ shooting success.
One, of course, is ball movement, which was on full display in Game 2 of the conference finals Tuesday. During the streak, more than 61 percent of the Spurs’ buckets and more than 84 percent of their 3-pointers have been assisted.
The second is shot selection. And it has clearly helped that the Spurs have cut down on their mid-range shots, the least efficient shots on the floor. Over the first 56 games, they attempted 25.7 percent of their shots from mid-range, which is well below the league average of 30.3 percent. But they’ve cut that number down to just 22.7 percent during the streak.
Though he’s not one of the team’s stars, Green might just be the best example of why the Spurs are so good offensively. Less than 12 percent of his shots during the streak have come from mid-range, and 91 percent (64-of-70) of his buckets over the last 20 games have been assisted (by, incredibly, 12 different teammates).
The Spurs have actually been at their best offensively when Green is on the floor. They’ve scored an incredible 118.3 points per 100 possessions and outscored their opponents by almost 28 per 100 in his 424 minutes during the streak.