Big Or Small — Does It Matter?

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SAN ANTONIO – Not only did the Miami Heat change their starting lineup in Game 4 of The Finals, but they played small (with only one big man on the floor) for the full 48 minutes. The result was a 16-point victory.

Over the course of the series, the numbers make it clear that the Heat have been better, particularly on offense, when they’ve played small.

Heat pace and efficiency, 2013 Finals

Lineups MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Big 50 89.0 80.1 101.0 -20.9 -23
Small 131 90.3 119.3 105.5 +13.9 +29
Garbage time 11 89.5 68.9 116.3 -47.4 -11
Total 192 89.9 106.6 104.9 +1.7 -5

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

The Spurs’ big lineups have played better (+2.0 points per 100 possessions) than their small lineups (-13.8), but that discrepancy is less than half that of the Heat’s. So you could say that the series has been determined more by what kind of lineup Miami has played than by what kind San Antonio has played. The Heat’s offensive advantages when playing small are obvious. The extra shooter either makes defenses pay for paying extra attention to LeBron James, or gives James more space to operate.

So, is staying small the key to winning two more games? Not according to Dwyane Wade, who said that the lineup change “had no big impact” on the Heat’s performance in Game 4.

“I don’t think that had anything to do with the reason we played better,” Wade said before the Heat practiced on Saturday. “I think we just played better, for one, because there was some … if we lose that game, it’s trouble. We might not make it back to Miami. So in a sense, we had a little nervousness in us. We played with that nervous energy. And we did what we normally do. We respond where we need to.

“So I think we were going to play a better game, not matter who is on the floor.”

Whether they’re playing big or small, Wade believes it’s about the Heat’s mentality. We saw Thursday how good they can be when the Heat’s Big Three play active and aggressive on both ends of the floor. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday that the team’s last few wins have come when James, Wade and Chris Bosh “had our three highest defensive grades, the way we chart it.”

The problem, of course, is that the Heat have only had that nervous energy – or urgency, if you will – in games following a loss. And to win two straight championships, they’re going to have to win two straight games.

That could happen in Games 6 and 7 back in Miami if the Spurs win Game 5 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), but James believes the time is now.

“I think it’s time,” James said. “I think we’re well overdue when it’s time for us to win consecutive games. I think we’re at 11 or 12 straight consecutive win loss, win loss, win loss. I think it’s time. Enough is enough for our team. I’m not saying it’s going to result in us having a win, but we need to play with the same sense of urgency as if we were down 2-1 or whatever the case may be tomorrow night. And we can’t wait around.”

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40 Comments

  1. reynante ypil eyac says:

    please use d BIRDMAN, i will no longer be a HEAT fan f u fail diz championship…

    • still a fan says:

      Don’t worry and have confidence in your team . It might take some time to things “go right” , but if you are fan then loss is a loss and meybe next time . Still miami got future if they want grab it . Personaly I am chering for San Antonio ( I like worketic , hart and organization of “they”) , but back to championschip topic “my” team lost it (after 9 consecutive titles) in 1 round of play off . Hard ? Yes , but team “fall apart” in midst of seson after main sponsor retrat from basketball :( . Still team fight to end , some key players left ,
      but these who stay “left theier harts on flor” ,while lacking of subs they fight to end . Puting such efort to point when they barly can move in 4 qt sometimes can be awe-inspiring you know , they were great even when tey lost they lost like a champions . In play offs we didn’t boo them , insted we were proud of them . I don’t know where players will land (organization finance problem) , but I wish them best luck . Ps . Looking foward for Motiejunas development , D-Mo has A talent so he should be in starting five at some point , but he need confidence , I remember when arrive in Gdynia , how he play , when he isn’t down he can be real beast in there (it will come :) ) Good luck D-Mo :)

  2. Awesome win in gm 5 Spurs-yet still need to stop/cut way down the turnovers. I knew Ginobiliiiiiiiiiii would get hot-now he’ll stay hot-making plays is when he’s @ his best. TP & TD can just keep being themselves & everyone else Leonard, Green, Neal & the rest all have the confidence & fortitude to finish the job & win the next gm!
    GO SPURS!
    SPURS ALL THE WAY!!!

  3. THE HAMMER says:

    the question is, is Miami going to start crying already? they did it before and they will do it again. Miami is doom because they are not a team they are a pack of stars put together to win media blitz, in fact they got lucky they made it last year. Spo will be fired immediately after they loose the series and they will hail to LBJ blah blah blah. the fact is that LBJ is really an avg player and no more. Wade is better than him and the team captain.

  4. bsketballfan says:

    what is your basis to call a coach a great coach? if you dont consider spo as a great coach because LBJ is in his team, then if pop coach lebron then his not a great coach also?same for other coaches. and stop saying heat bought its current team to be in finals. every great teams created from trading players and getting free agents. there is no team that won championship that their players come only from the draft. they trade players and acquired some free agents.

  5. I could’nt agre more with Miamiheatfan; Popo is a fantastic coach and that is the only reason why the Spurs have not been swept by the Heat; if LBJ had not been benched at the start of 4th period of game #1, we very likely woul’nt have the pleasure to watch a 5th game tonigth.
    Let’s go Heat!!!

  6. MiamiHeatFan says:

    Hey guys you should not forget about Gregg Popovich he is the real reason why Erik Spoelstra is having a hard time making his team win. Pop has coached the Spurs since 1996 and has already won 4 NBA titles in the process…I like Miami to win the series but it will not be easy as they are playing against Pop and the Spurs…

  7. Jo says:

    Ok brazilian fan then coach the lakers and make them to the finals

  8. Suppa Hot Fire says:

    i like pie

  9. At least I created an atmosphere for some constructive discussions.
    I’d like to make three remarks:
    1. Spo was not the head Coach, when the Heat won the title in 2006.
    2. Spo , so fart won just one NBA title, despite coaching the best team of the league.in the past three seasons.
    3. It’s his duty to win the 1203 title, as the Spurs does’nt have the quality level ( old team ) to win a title any longer.
    Concerning Pat Riley’s role in this series, I read it in between the lines in the US media.
    Keep mocking me, but at the end you will agree with my judgement.
    LOL!!!

    • ryu says:

      just play foolball man…… yeah, you’re right coach spo is a very bad caoach, very bad soccer coach that’s he’s a basketball coach coz it’s where he is good at.. c’mon man open your mind and think a little bit.

  10. ksa says:

    i agree with makran…just go out and play volleyball brazilian fan.

  11. makran says:

    Mr Brazilian, you don’t want someone to under estimate your knowledge of the game but that’s what you do with Eric Spo….

  12. Basketball fan says:

    if SPOELSTRA is a poor coach, then why the he** the heat is in the finals for the 3rd consecutive times? just play football brazilian boy :))

    • Larry says:

      the heat are in the finals for three straight seasons ONLY because Lebron. Spoelstra isnt that great of a coach, and you can bet your a** that Pat Riley has a HUGE input on any coaching decisions.

  13. heat fan says:

    i’m 100% agree w/ you brazilian fan about ray allen as heat 1st 5. but i think you talk too much about SPO.

  14. heat fan says:

    yes

  15. J says:

    i dont think it matters for the heat big or small they are winners ……..but!!!

    this would be good in any situation
    pg curry
    sg dwade
    sf lbj
    pf love
    c javale mcgee for athleticicam or roy hibbert or dwight and bosh 6th man
    oviously that would never happen but imagine the record like 75 and 7 and more depth yes i said more

    heat in 6!!!

  16. Pinoy FAN says:

    ey brazilian fan..which coach is poorer than you think? spo or mike brown or any other coach?having big stars is not an easy task to do…coach spo is not a nba player but what kind of respect did he get from the stars? its amazing how he can handle the big three and adjusting the game of nba.come to think of the lakers vs the heat when they come together to create all star team..did the lakers survive in the playoffs.they almost lost the last spot on the west..now think before you blog.

  17. If Spoelstra was a reasonable capable coach, the Heat would’nt had lost game#1, since he benched LBJ and DWade during the start of 4th qter, that is when the Spurs gained momentum and succeded to take control of the game; don’t try to understimate my knowledge ot this game, and just to make things clearer to you, Pat Riley is the brain behind the changes being introduced at this poit of the finals, after the stupid errors Spoelstra committed in the 3rd game.

    • Gossiper says:

      Brazilian, So you work now in pat riley’s office that you heard all of these?

    • miami fan says:

      you know nothing….mike is there because he can defend and rebound and shoot 3′s….if allen instead of miller… james will be force to defend low…about game 1… its a best of seven series not just one game….they just tried something that might work that’s all..if its not and they lose..then okey…. atleast they know that it will not work…so please please please don’t act like you are a genius of this game because you know nothing

    • alien-life-form says:

      pat riley is trying to fulfill a prophecy he had when he was still coaching the lakers, that is “there will be a time when a team will be comprised of 6’9″ guys playing from point guard to centre” and thats exactly what he’s done with the heat

    • Mike says:

      James said after the game that he needed a breather and asked to be taken out, because Spo usually starts him in the fourth. Wade wasn’t playing that amazingly, but he probably wanted to rest both of them so they wouldn’t be tired down the stretch. It’d be nice to play the best 5 players for 48 minutes, but humans need rest.

    • enteng says:

      second demotion to MAKRAN, hey Brazilian Fan, Do you even know the meaning of POOR Coaching?

    • Saeed says:

      Do not say that Spoelstra is a bad coach. I guess, by a bad coach, you mean that idiot Luiz Felipe Scolari.
      Don’t you remember the game in regular season between San Antonio and Heat in San Antonio where in the final seconds of the game, the heat were down by 1 and coach Spoelstra, in a VERY BRAVE DECISION, DID NOT TAKE A TIMEOUT after gaining possession to decrease the chances of Spurs’ defense to set and they won Spurs in San Antonio with Bosh’s buzzer beating three pointer with LBJ and Dwade sitting on the bench for the whole game?
      You might know things about basketball but you have to be fair in your judgement of the coaches.

    • realist2013 says:

      Honestly the line ups dont matter. This series has been about who makes the most stupid turnovers. Putting Miller/Allen in is a gamble. Neither are good defenders. Thats why Haslem is typically in. Difference was Wade and Lebrons shots started falling and Parker lost his explosive step in the second half. Then no one wanted to attack for the Spurs amd when they did they crowded the lane.instead of spreading tge floor

    • realist2013 says:

      Honestly the line ups dont matter. This series has been about who makes the most stupid turnovers. Putting Miller/Allen in is a gamble. Neither are good defenders. Thats why Haslem is typically in. Difference was Wade and Lebrons shots started falling and Parker lost his explosive step in the second half. Then no one wanted to attack for the Spurs and they crowded the lane instead of spreading the floor to drive and kick or swing that ball like they usually do. Less focusing on Parkers injury and more on the task at hand.

    • Erwin says:

      The entire NBA is giving lots of credits to Spoelstra. If you’re not, you are alone in this. Good luck with your opinion. I’d stick to soccer if I were you.

    • Donski_ski says:

      Mr Brazilian Fan, Wow.. I think you are a soccer fan not a basketball fan-lol well a trying hard fan ::) What knowledge do u possess? Spo may have his reasons – Say he saw them tired and need a rest for some minutes as they are on a lead anyway etc. which we may not know. :) I do believe he is not yet as great as Pop as of now but he is going on there(remember making Heat a playoff team even Wade only as his star?) but not a poor coach as you speak of,and what,do u have an insider on Miami org to know it’s Riley’s order? Lol. Stay on your sport buddy. It irritates me to see people acting as if he knows something yet… urgh nevermind. :))

    • sander says:

      Mr.brazilian if spo is poor as wat u said how about u?

      • realist2013 says:

        Think its the argument they have a team of ringers and seem to play sporatic even so. Not siding with anyone but they pretty much bought their roster using a loop hole. Thats another story. Phil Jackson also had ringer teams but at least the Bulls were built and had the cohesion over the years to get better and get a few role players to forge the dynasty they had. Spolestra is just starting out and his team will look very different after next season due to the new CBA tgat wont make keeping their roster affordable. Lebron Wade and Bosh only have one more run in them. After which you’ll see what Spolestra can do.

    • Ching says:

      spoelstra did not “bench” wade and james because he wanted to…. the stars wanted the rest, and they said it in their after-game interviews.

    • terry p says:

      YOURE RIGHT SPO GOTTA USE COMMON SENSE WHN COACHING

  18. If Spoelstra wants to have a confortable lead over the Spurs right from the tip off, he should line up Ray Allen, as a starter in lieu of Mike Miller. He would continue to play a small line up, but far more efficient and technically better. But, as he is a very poor Head Coach he very likely will not dare to make this kind of change, risking to loose the 5th game.

    • makran says:

      POOR Head Coach? Do you really know this game?hello Mr. Brazilian you are watching basketball not Football… Ok, Spo is not a Top Coach compared to Pop and Jackson (as of now) but he is neither that POOR as what you have said, He is not doing things the way you wanted, he is making the things which the team needs in order to win the game, he knows how to adjust, if he is a POOR coach LOL he’s already out even before the big 3 was formed, damn he even help this team bring to the playoffs with wade as their lone star…How about Del Negro what kind of coach he is if you consider Spoelstra as POOR?

    • Next Man Up says:

      Miller is a better defender then Allen and dont forget the hot streak Miller was on, something like 9 of 10 from 3′s. love Ray but i think mike starting is a better option

      • AL says:

        I think he should start with Battier, he is a better defender & Miller has been more efficient coming off the bench. I am aware of Battier ‘s recent struggle offensively but Miller has not scored either & defensively Battier is much better than Miller or Allen & they can both come off the bench & have an impact offensively. They won the championship with him as a starter, they changed that because they had to go big. It is time to go back.