Game 4: The Impact Plays

SAN ANTONIO — The most important play in a game isn’t always the one you remember most. Sometimes, it’s subtle and doesn’t even make the highlight reel. Sometimes, something as simple as a change in possession can be more important than a shot that does or doesn’t go in.

The NBA has a way to use analytics to figure out just which plays had the biggest impact on a close game. It’s a “leverage” model that was developed to evaluate and instruct referees by pointing out which calls or no-calls had the biggest impact on a game’s result.

Here’s the idea: At every point of a game, each team has a certain probability of winning. Putting the quality of each team to the side, when the game tips off, the home team has a 60 percent probability of winning and the road team has a 40 percent probability of winning. After the first basket, those numbers haven’t changed much. But if the home team is up 10 with the ball and five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, their win probability (WP) is obviously a lot greater than 60 percent.

So, by calculating win probability both before and after a play occurs, it can be determined just how important that play was. Score, possession and location are the factors. And obviously, plays in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter (or overtime) in a close game are more important than any others.

Using the league’s data model, we’ve determined the three most important plays of Game 4 of The Finals, a comfortable 109-93 win for the Miami Heat that evened the series at two games apiece

The Heat didn’t put the game away until they went on a 16-6 run midway through the fourth quarter, but the biggest plays of the night came before that, with the game still in the balance late in the third and early in the fourth.

3. +8.1 percent – Neal drains a 3



In the midst of scoring on 11 of their final 12 possessions of the third quarter, the Heat had a six point lead and looked to be taking control. But after a LeBron James miss in the post, the Spurs got the ball quickly up the floor. Ray Allen was able to get to Danny Green in the corner, but Green found a trailing Gary Neal, who (of course) didn’t hesitate to jack up a 3 that pulled San Antonio within three with 1:39 left in the period.

The 3 changed the Spurs’ WP from 31.3 percent to 39.4 percent.

2. +8.8 percent – Wade’s and-one



On the very next possession, the Heat’s first few options were well covered and Dwyane Wade had the ball in the corner. But when James slipped a corner screen, neither Green nor Manu Ginobili stayed with Wade, who drove, drew a foul on Green, and hit a tough bank shot as he was falling to the ground. He then converted the free throw to put the Heat back up six.

The play increased the Heat’s WP from 60.6 percent to 69.4 percent.

1. +12.6 percent – James’ steal leads to Allen’s trey



Miami’s lead was five in the first minute of the fourth quarter when Ginobili hit a rolling Tiago Splitter in the lane. As Splitter came down with the ball, he tried to kick it to Kawhi Leonard in the corner. But James, who had helped off Leonard, read Splitter’s mind and took the ball right out of his hands.

(James’ defensive anticipation was rather ridiculous all night.)

James raced up the floor, drew four Spurs defenders into the paint and got the ball to Norris Cole in the left corner. Cole was wide open, but spotted Allen on the wing. Leonard closed out on Allen, but a pump fake got him out of the way. Allen drained the 3 (one of only four the Heat made all night) to increase the lead to eight points.

Before James’ steal, the Heat’s WP was 67.6 percent. The change of possession increased it to 72.6 percent (+5.0) and the three made it 80.2 percent (+7.6).


  1. Breed Blog says:

    Just Try And Outtough Em

    […] , larry bird and the Celtics, pierce allen garnett and the Celtics, shaq kobe an […]

  2. Spurs all the way!!! says:

    the Spurs have to win the next two, man. If LBJ and D-Wade keep scoring like that, then the Spurs don’t stand a chance(no offence)

  3. GLENN says:


  4. Arnoldphk says:

    Let Neal, Green and Bonner shoot the lights out!

    • Jay says:

      That’s already gameplanned by Miami. A hard closeout on them renders them useless. They can’t beat you one on one. I would rather let them dribble the ball and make their move rather than let them shoot wide open 3’s

  5. spurschamps1213 says:

    lol@Theholyspectator they figured out how to shut down tony parker?? He was clearly hurt. You will see on Sunday.

    • BIGMoment says:

      So your saying that wade didn’t hurt? take a look even he try to block timmy shot and being hit on her knee he still playing like a hell, so don’t talk about “HURT” because its disgusting. And lebron james is a shutdown defender, unless parker play like kevin durant that’s another story. anyway lets see how the spurs respond because its very bad for spurs if the heat win game 5

      • Jay says:

        He didn’t seem hurt to me. And Wade is clearly hurting since the beginning of the playoffs. If Wade is 100%, this series would have been easy for the Miami Heat.

  6. Spurs plan says:

    Limit Manu and Splitter to 10 mins.

    spurs have a deep bench

    • Jay says:

      Yeah and let Nando de Colo, Diaw, Joseph and Bonner in. That’s a nice bench compared to Birdman, Ray Allen, Norris Cole, Shane Battier and Mike Miller. The Heat have a deeper bench.

  7. Patty says:

    Manu needs to play less minutes in Game 5. Does Manu have enough in his belly?

    Pop needs to make decision who he is going to play for Game 5.


  8. chaka says:

    I think Allen should start on sunday, he deserves it and he has proved his mentle. what do you gusy think?

    • Jay says:

      Nah I don’t think Coach Spoelstra would like to rearrange that. Ray Allen specifically comes off the bench, that’s what they have done all year. Any adjustments made by Coach Spo would be from Miller, Battier, Haslem or Cole

  9. jay says:

    jump off the heat bandwagon!!! The spurs are a much better team.

  10. yo says:

    Nobody’s talking about SA Big 3 though.
    They strongly unattended our hopes, as basketball fans.
    For Manu, nuff said, the guy, having a very thight perimeter defense and a good baseline movement from miami bigs struggled during the series.
    Parker did a great job in game 1, but for the rest I haven’t seen him at MVP standards he used to show me this year: he runs too fast, he’s always pressed, always scared about what to do. And he’s ALWAYS on the floor. He can’t shoot one open jumper that he falls. Not really an example in terms of how to play ball.
    But my biggest disappointment is Big Fundamental. In Game1 there was no story whatsoever. Tim burned ’em all, But for 3 games he was evanescent, not at his high level of play and especially not a threat in the paint. Splitter neither, and we can say that having Miami playing small all year (Pop’s words) the SA bigs must step up. The mismatch in favour for them is at the point (pick&roll) and on boards/going to the free throw line.
    Pop said they missed too many free throws and they turned the ball over too much, but I think that you cannot rely on perimeter shooting and penetration from a dull Parker and even worse Ginobili and expect to win 4 out of 7.

    • yo says:

      keep in mind, the 36 points win is obviously a team effort, but i’ve seen 54 (?) and more points from role player that shooting guards, shooting 70% from 3..
      This can happen once in a season, not repeated in a 7game series.

  11. roy says:

    Remember! Miami won the game without Lebron and Wade. Without Birdman in game 4? Heat coach must be crazy or genious?

  12. Steven Yong says:

    This Heat team is clearly loaded with talent and have a solid bench. Love the option of Miiler starting to spread the floor, but where was the offense from him? Heat won with barely any 3s made in G4! I suppose the threat of the 3s created more space of the lane. Heat must maintain the same level of intensity with defend to take G5. I can’t understand why they don’t bring the same level of intensity they are capable of to every game?? If they do, they will win in 6.

    • Jay says:

      Mike Miller may have not made 1 shot, but his threat is absolutely there. That’s the dilemma in facing the small ball approach. Yeah Mike Miller may not have shot but if he is open you just can’t leave him. And that allows the Spurs defense to be honest and stay with the shooters. With that, Lebron and D-Wade would have an easier time attacking the hole since the help defense would stay on the shooters. They can do it against San Antonio because they are not as big as the Pacers and Splitter is not a real threat offensively,

  13. JAY says:

    The officiating is DISGUSTING! Why is Bosh the only one who got fined? The whole Miami Heat team should be fined for flopping! The officiating will definitely decide who wins the series and they have a goal in mind.

  14. bottom line is whoever plays better defence and minimise their turn over, will WIN. just look at the stats of the past 4 games..
    Miami won by getting spurs to turn over more. plus they also matched or sometimes dominate the rebounding.

  15. COMANDANTE says:

    Wow!!! Flash is back at it again… It’s amazing and satisfying to see my favorite play this way….

  16. Louie says:

    How about the plays in the first half where the officials gave momentum to the HEAT by calling their flops? where would you rate that? I saw second half and yes it was a clean half (for the most part) but anyone that saw the game can tell that it was clear the officiating staff had a goal in mind. to get the HEAT going and it worked….. Disgusted by the officiating on this one.

    • Jay says:

      Refs gave the momentum? Wow if anything the refs were in the Spurs favor. How would you also rate the foul called on Wade when he blocked Duncan? That was all ball you saw it in the replays. That was actually Wade’s 4th foul in the 3rd quarter. And the Spurs had more free throw attempts than Miami, its just that they bricked a lot of them. Miami had 17 FT attempts, San Antonio had 31!!!! Yeah there was the flop by Bosh but that’s pretty much it. If you’re gonna notice the small things that went for Miami, at least be fair and also see the things that went San Antonio’s way. Oh yeah why don’t you blame the referees for the 18 turnovers by the Spurs. That’s ignorance and bias at its highest.

  17. Frankie says:

    I’m still waiting on any one to talk real about HOW the REFEREES are calling the game. It’s as if they are seeing what that want to see, as well as not caring about the out right wrong call and they and only they will decide the outcome of a game. And not the skills of the team.

  18. ill says:

    Wow It’s because of that kind of article that we love and this game! Thanx John it’s very instructive.
    HEAT IN 6! Remember.

  19. BHST says:

    NBA officers manipulate the game. This game stinks.

  20. Miami - Cuba connection says:

    Mais oui ,mon ami….attendez vous a jour plus et vous allez voir…..Miami Heat the Champs !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. soldierheat says:

    best part of this article is looking at the still frame of video 2 and seeing a hater recognize greatness and telling Dwayne Wade he is number one

  22. Spurs78255 says:

    First of all congrats, Miami outplayed the Spurs and won. It happens though. This is why the series is tied 2 & 2. Few to many turnovers again, sloppy play killed us in the end. As for Miami, they finally played like the team that was bought in 2010. There is truth to no stopping James, he is a dominant player, if not the most dominant. However, to go ahead and say that Wade and Bosh are back to their old self is a bit anticipated. They had one good game. They have been just as, if not more inconsistent than any other player in the playoffs. Spurs need to re-group, stay focused, and it will all be ok. Spurs In 6!

  23. AG says:


    Lebron and Wade sort of faked that they weren’t at their best, so that in a few games, the Spurs will slowly stop putting effort into guarding them. Then they got an outburst and scored like a thousand bullets being fired in 1 second.

  24. ani says:

    I don’t know why people think the spurs would win look @ Green and and Neal’s 3pt percentage. That kind of production from role players is equivalent to LBJ and Flash dropping 25-30 each

  25. ver says:

    If big 3 continued what they played on Game 4 – Heat will take their Back to Back

  26. Michael says:

    I pray for you guys and came strong….Thanks Miami. May God lead you to another 2013 championship cause you desrve it. Thanks wade for the come back…u guys made my day.

  27. HeatWillWin says:

    This was a great win for the HEAT, its nice to see D-Wade back to his glory days, the spurs are a really good team but when miami wants to play ball, there is no team that can beat them, they just need to bring the effort and energy in the upcoming games because the talent will always be there. MIAMI HEAT 2013 CHAMPS BABY!!!!!!!!

  28. Bu says:

    Clearly there’re many Heat fans here. The fact is, like Pop & Manu said, if they execute their stuff, even if Heat’s big 3 on a roll, the game should be close. Then it comes down to the role players, loose balls,…etc.

    But I strongly agree that Manu is the culprit of the drop in level of play. He made turnovers after turnovers & did not play his game. It has less to do with the Heat’s traps & defense but more to do with Manu himself. It’s clear.

    So if Manu plays his A game, while Green & Neal continues their superb D & Off, Spurs has a good chance to play evenly with the Heat & even win.Game 4 Spurs also didn’t win their match-ups with Duncan & Splitter

    • alp says:

      i strongly disagree. because if manu is playing his A game gary neal/danny green won’t be getting as much playing time and if they are, then spurs will have a small lineup and they will get KILLED on the boards. besides like i keep saying, it’s over for danny greens little wide open 3 coming out party(NOT a heat fan, just a angry thunder fan) miami closed out on him so hard hes scared to take 3’s now its only a matter of time before he loses confidence and starts bricking them. gary neal is a different story because he has far more skill than green. also in spite of all thats happened we’ve yet to see chris bosh bring his A game as well.. he played well last night, but thats NOT his A game. Miami as a team played OK but d wade and Lebron played out of their minds. we’ve seen san antonio at their best in this series, but truthfully we haven’t seen miamis best yet. when they closed my thunder out last year, THAT was when they were at their best. when they closed out indiana, THAT was their best. i’d be VERY afraid if i was a spurs fan right now. heat in 6

    • Game Time says:

      Clearly you haven’t seen how everyone was trolling Heat fans the other day. No duh there will be fans here to talk about the game.

  29. hipster says:

    Heat out-played the Spurs last night. They hustled more, shot better, played inspred defense.

    If the Spurs can’t muster up any more energy than that, they are in trouble.

  30. Clarence says:

    The key why the heat won last night is because of there small ball defense,Very smart strategy by Coach spo for using Miller,battier and haslem as part of there defense. With the use of those guys they can easily switch back to double the prime scorers of the spurs like Duncan and Tony. I’m gonna stick on my prediction. Heat in 6. Spurs will be the first team to lost a back to back game because of fatigue health and there young core.

  31. Yue says:

    I have to say manu is done

  32. SM says:

    What a game by Miami. Excellent.
    You are the best and should continue playing hard. SA is no where close to you when you play hard. They are not as good as Oklahama. Game 3 was your own fault letting them to shoot those 3 pointers
    Play hard and Finish them in game 5 and 6.

  33. LOL says:

    There is a guy giving the middle finger to WADE as he drives for the and1 and NBA didnt notice it LOL

  34. ThatGuy says:

    First and foremost I’d like to extend my condolences to the Spurs fans, who had to watch that beat down. Second off, the Spurs have never had an answer for James, or Wade. If you watch the first 3 games, James settled for shots and not playing like the aggressive monster that he is. All that 3-point shooting is good, hell it carried them to a big win in Game 3, but we all know the motto: “Live by the 3, die by the 3”. Neal and Green didn’t know what to do with Wade and Lebron in their face. Bottom line, when the game matters your star players have to show up. Heat won Game 2 with role players, Spurs won Game 3 with role players. When your main core doesn’t play well, you will fail at the end of the 4th. Heat proved that.

    • alp says:

      your on point my man. if d wade plays like he did in game 4, it’s all over for san antonio. because all of a sudden he forces danny green to guard him, and danny green WILL lose his legs trying to D up 06 d wade, therefore his jumpshot will be off AND we must take into account he miami is accounting for him now, so no more wide open 3’s. i was far more impressed with gary neal’s performance in game 3 because he was hitting 3’s in EVERY way, off the dribble with hands in his face. Danny green was just wide open, and i have yet to see him even TAKE a 3 off the dribble in this series. probably because he can’t do it. hes a one trick pony. anyways, now that lebron and wade have gotten going, im very interested to see how san antonio responds, because you cannot beat miami if lebron AND wade are playing like this.

  35. Look out for the Bleh Bleh Bleh says:

    Why is there a 30-sec commercial for each short video? That’s very annoying.

    • KLBJ says:

      Just like what Van Gundy said of JAMES, get yourself going and everything will fall in place.. what a great coaching advice. LBJ has to get to a great start this is not POST season.. you have to get yourself going at first… AMAZING how he attacked, posted up and most of all the way he played defense. This is MIAMI heat basketball,.. I still think coach Spo has some things to learn, he should be making a play book for Lebron and wade and have Bosh concentrate on rebounding, he take too many jump shot… Regardless this was an amazing display of team work and grit..

    • Ford Blunt III says:

      I agree that the commercials are too long. Butyou must admit, that commercial with Kevin Durant and Asian mom and son is the best. I crack up ever time that one comes on. “He looks fine to me….finish eating and go out and play..your Mom and Dad have some things to do.” Then she has him putting up light bulbs and cleaning the gutters. Not what anyone expected…

  36. BIGMoment says:

    This is the moment that i’ve been waiting for THE BIG THREE, Mr. Cade, you think the heat didn’t pay attention to those guy? review the video and watch how the heat defend the three pointers and you could see, that they respect the three pointers of the spurs, the problem is they focus to much on lebron james and they forget wade and boss, because LBJ carring the heat from the first round. i will expect a tight game on sunday how they defend the big three and i think wade and bosh are healthy so watch out spurs fans 😉 WIN OR LOST Im a miami heat fan.

  37. I'llbebether.I'llbebetter says:

    Miami a gagné, les Spurs ont perdu et du coup 8 commentaires à peine.
    Ils sont où les grands professionnels du basket ?
    Heat in 7

  38. Cade says:

    They say nothing succeeds like success. Therefore why were the 3-point fast shooters not released to continue doing their thing? Remember they showed in the early part of last night’s game that they were still on their streak.
    So I’m thanking Coach Pop for holding dem dogs back as I was quaking in my shoes that those guys would put on a repeat performance of Game #3.

    Hey Coach, can you please hold dem dogs back for one more time on Sunday night?

    • The difference in the game was the backcourt play of Wade and when he turned up the heat the likes of Green and Neal have no chance of guarding him despite him being injured. Since they both have to play defense they never got into any rhythm even though they were in lock target mode.

      • lerock says:

        yah..right,those raining three’s were not just that easy to do it again as u watch,bcoz they probably done it last night if it were that easy,remember, the heat never lost back2back n 5 months bcoz they know how to respond that quick,if the spurs want to make again those three,they must figure it again to break the heats defensive strategy they showed in last night’s game

      • alp says:

        i think gary neal still gonna get his buckets though, unlike danny green who can ONLY spot up shoot WIDE OPEN, gary neal has that ability to make shots with a hand in his face, make shots of the dribble and score in other ways off the dribble. but i agree with you. dwayne wade played INSPIRED ball yesterday. i had counted him out and thought it was gonna be the lebron james show, but the spotlight was shared, chris bosh also put in work, but dwayne wade TURNED BACK THE HANDS OF TIME. and his defense was AMAZING. i think at this point miami has figured out how to beat the spurs, ESPECIALLY if tony parker is having a lackluster game… close out HARD on the shooters, as almost all of them except gary neal in my opinion lack the ability to take you off the dribble… i see miami winning a MAYBE closer game sunday, then closing it out in game 6. D wades confidence in his jumper is back, hes playing great defense, lebron is lebron, chris bosh is…..aggresive? ray allen is starting to knockdown shots now. i think it’s over for san antonio. like OKC last year it seems…. THEY ARE A JUMPSHOOTING TEAM, but with alot more, better shooters. some of those threes neal and green hit at the time they did prevented the game from being a full fledged blow out. MIAMI IN 6

    • alp says:

      im 100% sure pop had the on que to fire whenever they could, but your taking away far to much credit from miami… they were closing out on shooters VERY hard. so hard the could barely get a shot up. unless san antonio changes up their gameplan they can’t beat the miami heat team we saw last night…. well, no team can.

  39. J says:

    still hate this system
    heat in 6!!!

  40. cesar says:

    I hope wade can do this again in game 5 if they realy want to repeat … Spurs has the ability to comeback… i realy think the performance of wade depends of how miami can win this…

  41. Ren says:

    Steve Smith said it right… Activity Level….. Many spurs tonight activity is low even their game is off. Tiago especially… Really need to get the mental approach

    • KunJay says:

      I don’t quiet agree, the Spurs were great specially first half they started 15 to 5. I say the Spurs are somewhat lucky they’ve been red hot from 3, like record of all time red hot in that 3rd game. If it wasn’t for that 3 point shooting i think this could be 3-1 in favor of Miami. Aside from Parker in game 1 and some decent contribution from Duncan they have nothing going.

      • Game Time says:

        I totally agree. Not taking anything away from the Spurs because wins are wins, but looking at them in terms of what will be consistent they don’t have anything that will overwhelm Miami.

  42. TSK TSK TSK says:

    Manu destroyed the gameplay..too much dribbling n poor deciscion making on the offensive end..He’s been inconsistent eversince d playoffs began..on the otherhand, Parker tried to do it by himself in the second half thou Green n Neal have been shooting their 3s…

    • Its not all Manu’s fault as Parker Splitter also committed turnovers at crucial part of the game. HEAT PLAYED ONE HELL OF A GAME. Their game plan was to attack from the beginning and make Spurs play defense. They were too concerned about stopping LBJ they forgot about Flash and he made them pay for laying off him while Spurs trying too much to keep LBJ in check. Bosh was a beast patrolling the paint rebounding blocking shots. This is the best game the BIG THREE had since joining forces in Miami. Heat in 6.

      • Asian Boy!!! says:

        ….and maybe the last best game of the Miami BIG THREE….. hahaha… Spurs will win the next two games… LeBron Fans (Miami Bandwagoners) will cry a lot….

      • WHITE HOT says:

        ………………..sure, we are looking forward to see it. Let’s Go Heat!

      • atafj says:

        its cute how everyone says that people who like LeBron and Miami are bandwagoners, when you can say the same thing about people who liked kareem and the lakers, magic and the lakers, jerry west and the lakers, bill Russell and the Celtics, larry bird and the Celtics, pierce allen garnett and the Celtics, shaq kobe and the lakers, kobe gasol artest and the lakers, steve nash and the suns, barkley and the suns, drose and the bulls, Jordan pippen and the bulls, Stockton Malone and the jazz, Dwight and the magic, shaq and the magic, paul and the hornets\

        good job guys, I suppose the only way to not be a bandwagon fan is to buy yourself a bobcats jersey and move to charlotte

    • judy says:

      Oh stfu moron! Manu didn’t destroyed their game play. He’s just struggling with his shots. Miami played great, you got to give them credit. With wade being the 06 wade is pretty hard to stop. Neal and green played great but the bigs needs to step up. Tiago, man up!

    • alp says:

      Manu has been inconsistent but the reason they lost this game is because tony parker had a goose egg in field goals and maybe points in the second half. he was shut down, hes probably gonna use his leg as an excuse if he gets asked the question to why he had no field goals made in the second half..

  43. Theholyspectator says:

    Wow what a game! Miami heat basketball has to be the most exciting thing to watch. The big 3 finally came together to play for the first time in the 2013 post season.. Miami seems to respond when they have their backs against the wall. If they win game 5 on sunday its a wrap for spurs. Manu has been mia this whole series. They figured out how to shut down tony p.. Doesnt look good for the texas team.