NBA.com/Stats

The Finals Stat: Game 5


VIDEO: Spurs’ Third-Quarter Clinic

Game 5 basics
MIA SAS
Pace 92.0 92.0
OffRtg 92.7 115.4
EFG% 44.7% 55.1%
OREB% 12.8% 14.3%
TO Ratio 12.8 8.9
FTA rate 0.360 0.295

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs are NBA champions for the fifth time, having defeated the Miami Heat four games to one in The Finals. One stat stood out from the rest as the Spurs closed it out with a dominant 104-87 victory on Sunday.

The stat

70 - Total point differential of The Finals.

The context

That’s the largest point differential in Finals history, surpassing the Boston Celtics’ plus-63 in the 1965 Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Heat won Game 2 by two points, while the Spurs won Games 1, 3, 4 and 5 by an average of 18.0.

The was a complete destruction of the two-time defending champions. The Spurs’ offense was an efficient machine, scoring 118.5 points per 100 possessions over the five games. They assisted on 66 percent of their field goals and averaged just 11.5 turnovers after committing twice that many (23) in Game 1. They got contributions from everyone in their rotation.

And if you got caught up in the precision ball movement and ridiculous perimeter shooting, you might not have noticed how good their defense was. You don’t beat a team by 70 points over five games with great play on just one end of the floor.

The Heat had the best offense through the first three rounds, scoring 113.7 points per 100 possessions in 15 games, including 114.3 in the conference finals against the No. 1 defense of the regular season. But in The Finals, they scored just 101.3. LeBron James averaged 28.2 points per game in the series, but only 4.0 assists. He didn’t get much help.

It was really on the Heat’s end of the floor where Game 5 changed. Miami had scored 29 points on its first 23 possessions, leading by 16 points midway through the first quarter. But they were then held to just 11 points over their next 26 possessions, as the Spurs took over the game and eventually built a 22-point lead.

For the Heat, it was death by execution.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO Ratio = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA

Heat defense pushes Spurs to pass


VIDEO: GameTime’s crew breaks down the Spurs’ pass-happy offense

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs’ offense has been a thing of beauty all season. But if the ball movement seemed like it reached a new level in Games 3 and 4 of The Finals in Miami … well, it did.

According to SportVU, the Spurs passed the ball 362 times in Game 3 on Tuesday, an average of 4.21 times per possession, their highest mark of the season. And in Game 4 on Thursday, they passed the ball even more, 381 times, or 4.54 times per possession.

This series is a race between the Spurs passes and the Heat’s rotations. And most of the time, it’s been like a race between Usain Bolt and Charles Barkley. Miami’s defense is meant to disrupt the opponent’s offense, but it has essentially pushed the Spurs to do what they do best.

In fact, before Game 3, the Spurs’ highest passes-per-possession mark came on Jan. 26 in … Miami. So the three games that they’ve moved the ball most have been the three games that they’ve played at American Airlines Arena.

Most passes per possession, 2013-14 Spurs

Date Opp. Res. Passes Poss. PPP PTS OffRtg
June 12 @ MIA W 381 84 4.54 107 127.4
June 10 @ MIA W 362 86 4.21 111 129.1
Jan. 26 @ MIA L 381 91 4.19 101 111.0
Jan. 28 @ HOU L 374 90 4.16 90 100.0
May 27 @ OKC L 370 92 4.02 92 100.0
Feb. 12 @ BOS W 364 91 4.00 104 114.3
Mar. 14 vs. LAL W 390 100 3.90 119 119.0
Mar. 24 vs. PHI W 373 96 3.89 113 117.7
Nov. 11 @ PHI W 360 93 3.87 109 117.2
Feb. 18 @ LAC W 381 100 3.81 113 113.0

via SportVU
PPP = Passes per possession
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

Tony Parker knows that he has to share the ball and trust his teammates more against the Heat than he does against other opponents. And once he gets rid of it, it can be like a hot potato, with Boris Diaw acting as a de facto point guard in the middle of the floor. The more the ball moves (especially from one side of the floor to the other), the more likely it is that the Spurs will get an open shot.

There’s no real correlation between how often the Spurs have passed the ball and how efficiently they’ve scored. Games against the Rockets and Thunder in the above list were pretty poor offensive games by San Antonio’s standards. And they’ve had games where they’ve scored efficiently (like Game 7 vs. Dallas and Game 1 vs. Portland) without moving the ball much (2.86 and 2.78 passes per possession, respectively).

But the Heat seem to bring out the Spurs’ best ball movement. If Miami can’t find a way to slow it down in Game 5 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), its season will likely come to an end.

The Finals Stat: Game 4


VIDEO: Charles Barkley feels the Miami Heat will lose this series

Game 4 basics
MIA SAS
Pace 84.9 84.9
OffRtg 99.1 128.9
EFG% 51.4% 63.6%
OREB% 15.8% 36.4%
TO Ratio 15.0 16.9
FTA rate 0.282 0.357

MIAMI – For the second time in three days, the San Antonio Spurs blew out the Miami Heat on their home floor, taking Game 4 of The Finals with an easy 107-86 victory. One stat stood out from the rest as the Spurs took a 3-1 series lead and gave themselves a chance to win a championship at home Sunday.

The stat

38 - Total point differential in the first quarter of the series.

The context

The Spurs have begun the second quarter with at least a six-point lead in all four games. They’ve won first quarters by six, seven, 16 and nine points.

It’s been dominance on both ends of the floor. The Spurs have scored a ridiculous 129 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter and have held the Heat to a paltry 87.

The first quarter has been the Heat’s worst all season and through the playoffs. In their first round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats, they won the first quarter by only one point. In their five-game series against the Brooklyn Nets, they won the first quarter by only three points. And in the conference finals, the Indiana Pacers outscored them in the first quarter.

Against lesser opponents, the Heat could deal with bad starts, climb themselves out of holes, and rely on fourth-quarter execution. But the Spurs are much better than any of the teams they faced in the first three rounds.

The Spurs were at their best in the first quarter in the regular season, outscoring their opponents by 10.4 points per 100 possessions. They had some early struggles in the Conference finals, but have otherwise been strong in the first quarter in the postseason.

Two nights after dropping 41 on the Heat in the first 12 minutes, the Spurs’ early success was more about defense. They held Miami to just 17 points on 23 first-quarter possessions. Their rotations were quick and sharp, and they just swarmed the Heat whenever they got near the basket. The team that led the league in field goal percentage in the restricted area began the game just 2-for-7 from there. Dwyane Wade finished the game shooting just 2-for-10 in the paint.

And the Spurs never let the Heat off the mat. The rout was on and San Antonio is just one win away from its fifth championship.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO Ratio = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA

For Spurs to win, Parker knows he needs to be pass-minded first


VIDEO: Sounds of the Finals from Game 3

MIAMI – After his 29-point performance in Game 3 of The Finals on Tuesday, Kawhi Leonard got several punches to the chest from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as he approached the bench.

Pop had actual words for Tony Parker, as we heard near the end of our “Sounds of the Finals” video (above).

“Great leadership,” Popovich told his point guard. “You didn’t get 30. You used great leadership and solid, solid play with the ball and your teammates. Great job.”

“I have to trust my teammates in this series,” Parker responded.

“Exactly,” Popovich said.

Parker was the Finals MVP the last time the Spurs won the championship, having torched poor Daniel Gibson for 24.5 points on 57 percent shooting in the 2007 Finals. If San Antonio gets two more wins before the Miami Heat get three in this series, Parker won’t be winning another MVP.

But he might be the Spurs’ most important player.

Back in October, before his team began its season by upsetting the Heat in its home opener, Philadelphia 76ers coach (and former Spurs assistant) Brett Brown was asked what the key would be for rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams in his first game against the Miami defense.

“Getting off the ball,” Brown responded.

Parker is no rookie, but the same holds true for him. The Heat defense is attacking him with a second defender when he comes off pick and rolls …

20140612_parker_dbl

… and the best thing he can do is get rid of the ball, so that it can eventually find the open man. And the faster he gets rid of the ball, the better shots his teammates will get.

“You have to move the ball against this team,” Brown said back in October. “The ball cannot stick.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Popovich talked about the ball sticking after the Spurs lost Game 2 on Sunday. And Parker was clearly the main culprit, having stopped the ball movement in attempts to go one-on-one too often.

In Game 3, Parker kept the ball moving. He had a couple of big games in last year’s Finals (including 26 points in a Game 5 win), but Parker knows that the offense generally has to come from somewhere else against the Heat, who are looking to get the ball out of his hands, either by doubling him on pick-and-rolls or defending him with LeBron James.

“It’s our key,” James told David Aldridge, “just to try to limit what he does.”

“For me the key is to find a happy middle between being aggressive or being patient,” Parker said Wednesday, “and looking at the advantage that we have. Because if LeBron’s guarding me, that means we have an advantage somewhere match-up-wise with Kawhi [Leonard] or Manu [Ginobili] or Danny [Green], so I have to be patient and make sure I call the right stuff.

“We talked about it with Pop after Game 2 because that’s the kind of series for me I just have to trust my teammates and move the ball. They’re trapping me on the pick-and-rolls, and then in the fourth quarter they’re putting LeBron. So I just have to be patient and look at what’s available for us, and just move the ball because Danny and Kawhi are going to have plenty of opportunities if LeBron’s guarding me.”

The numbers back up the notion that the Spurs are better when Parker is most willing to pass. His usage rate is lower in their five Finals wins against the Heat over the last two years (22.6 percent) than it is in their five Finals losses (26.8 percent).

And as he’s faced more aggressive defenses in this postseason, Parker’s usage rate has dropped every series, while the rate that he passes the ball has increased.

According to SportVU, Parker passed the ball 69 times per 100 touches in the first round against Dallas. That number stayed about the same in the conference semifinals against Portland. But it increased to 74 times per 100 touches in the conference finals against Oklahoma City and is up to 77 per 100 through three games against the Heat.

He still has the ball in his hands quite a bit. The offense still runs through him, but this is a trust-your-teammates series for Parker. The Spurs will have a better chance at another championship if he has little chance to be the Finals MVP.

Tony Parker by series

Round MIN TOP Poss% Touches Passes PP100T USG%
Reg. season 1,997 410.8 20.6% 5,136 3,767 73.3 26.6%
First round 231 48.4 20.9% 566 392 69.3 31.8%
Conf. semis 145 34.3 23.6% 364 251 69.0 30.4%
Conf. finals 167 31.4 18.9% 413 306 74.1 25.0%
Finals 105 21.4 20.4% 265 205 77.4 23.9%

TOP = Minutes with the ball
Poss% = TOP/MIN
PP100T = Passes per 100 touches
USG% = Percentage of team’s possessions used (via shots, assists or turnovers) when on the court.

Film Study: Spurs swing and attack


VIDEO: GameTime: Role players shape Game 3

MIAMI – The ball did not stick in Game 3. And the results were remarkable.

After his team lost Game 2 of The Finals on Sunday, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich remarked how the ball “stuck” too much in his team’s offense.

According to SportVU, the Spurs made exactly the same number of passes in Game 2 (337) as they did in Game 1, and on fewer possessions (88 vs. 95). But some passes are better than others, especially against the Miami Heat defense. When you say the ball sticks, you could mean that it sticks in one guy’s hands or that it sticks to one side of the floor.

In the first half of Game 2, the Spurs swung the ball from one side of the floor to the other with a pass just 19 times (on 46 possessions). They were passing, but they didn’t necessarily move the ball effectively. Here’s an example of a possession where the ball was passed four times, but stayed on the right side of the floor.

In the first half of Game 3, the Spurs swung the ball from side to side with a pass 30 times (on 44 possessions), which led to a relentless attack of the paint.

Monday’s Film Study noted the Heat’s ability to close out on shooters and force the Spurs’ into 23 mid-range shots in Game 2. On Tuesday, the Spurs attempted just eight mid-range shots, the same number as they attempted in their Game 1 victory.

When the ball is coming from the other side of the floor, closing out on shooters is tougher. The Heat’s weak-side defenders are generally in the paint, ready to help on a drive or cut. So when the ball is reversed, they have a longer distance to travel than if the ball is coming from the top of the key or the same side of the floor. They may get to the 3-point line, but their momentum keeps them from being able to stay in front of their man as easily.

And when the defender is coming from far way with that momentum, attacking those close-outs is easier. With the ball moving from side to side on Tuesday more than it did on Sunday, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green went right at the Heat’s recovering defenders.

Here are a few examples…

Play 1: Swing and attack

The ball movement wasn’t crisp on the Spurs’ third possession of the game, in part because they were trying to take advantage of a mismatch – Mario Chalmers guarding Leonard. But once they saw that they couldn’t get the ball to Leonard in the post, the ball swung from the right side of the floor to the left. And when the ball came back to the right side, Leonard had just enough of a lane to the paint…

20140611_leonard_1_1

Leonard drew a foul on Chalmers on the play, but also could have hit Tony Parker for an open 3 in the left corner…

20140611_leonard_1_2

Play 2: Got him with the rocker

A few possessions later, the Spurs quickly swung the ball from the left side of the floor to the right, and then reversed it back to Leonard at the top of the key. With 16 seconds left on the shot clock, the Heat were already scrambling, with LeBron James having totally lost contact with Leonard and Dwyane Wade forced to switch out …

20140611_switch_1

Leonard looked to swing the ball to Green, but James recovered well enough. Wade displayed some great awareness to see James on the baseline and know that he had to go guard Leonard. And because Leonard first looked to pass (and because Chris Bosh also hedged over), Wade was able to get in front of him. But a simple rocker move got Wade leaning to his left, and Leonard was able to get him on his hip, get into the paint, draw a foul on Bosh, and hit a nifty scoop shot.

Play 3: Green gets in the act

The ball stays on the right side of the floor on this play, but it’s another example of Leonard’s and Green’s attack-the-close-out mentality. After Parker gets a sideline screen from Tim Duncan and takes the ball toward the right corner, he reverses it to Green. Wade closes out and positions himself to force the ball to the sideline …

20140611_green_1_1

… but Green uses Wade’s momentum against him. He attacks that right leg and gets into the paint for a runner.

Play 4: Taking what they give you

The Heat are trying to push the ball to the sideline on their close-outs. They do not want the ball in the middle of the floor, where layups can be had and passes can more easily be made to whoever is open.

We were still in the first six minutes of the first quarter when Parker and Duncan ran a standard high pick-and-roll. A quick pass put the ball in Boris Diaw‘s hands with Ray Allen sinking down to the right block on the weak side…

20140611_green_2_1

Two passes and 1.5 seconds later, the ball was in Green’s hands on the right wing. Allen closed out and, just like Wade, positioned himself to force the ball to the sideline…

20140611_green_2_2

Unlike Wade in the play above, Allen has help in the presence of Duncan and Chris Andersen, who are preventing Green from attacking that right leg. But Green still uses Allen’s momentum to get to the basket. He just goes the other way.

Where the title will be determined

Green set a Finals record with 27 3-pointers in last year’s series. And Leonard’s mid-range shooting has improved quite a bit since he came into the league. But the pair were a combined 12-for-12 in the paint in Game 3, because of how well the Spurs moved the ball from side to side and because of how well they attacked the Heat’s close-outs.

There’s a reason all three Finals Film Studies thus far have been about the Spurs’ end of the floor. The Heat have been solid offensively throughout the series, especially when James has been able to stay on the floor. They’ve scored at least 105 points per 100 possessions in eight of the 11 quarters in which his body didn’t shut down.

In order to win their third straight championship, the Heat will need to get more consistent stops. They’re trying to be only the fourth team in the last 35 years to win a title after not ranking in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in the regular season. And there’s a reason why only three teams have done it in that span.

The Finals Stat: Game 3


VIDEO: The Spurs explode for 41 points in the first quarter

The basics
MIA SAS
Pace 90.7 90.7
OffRtg 104.9 116.3
EFG% 57.6% 61.2%
OREB% 16.8% 21.6%
TO Ratio 19.9 17.2
FTA rate 0.267 0.346

MIAMI – The San Antonio Spurs thumped the Miami Heat, 111-92, in Game 3 of The Finals on Tuesday. One stat stood out from the rest as the Spurs took a 2-1 series lead and regained home-court advantage.

The stat

1 - Number of times the Heat defense got consecutive stops in the first half.

The context

The shooting numbers were ridiculous. The Spurs shot 25-for-33 (76 percent) in the first half, hitting seven of their 10 3-point attempts. That’s an effective field goal percentage of 86 percent. Kawhi Leonard (6-for-7) and Danny Green (6-for-6) were on fire.

That’s obviously not sustainable, but the Spurs also got to the free-throw line (17 attempts) and took care of the ball (only five turnovers) in the first half. Their 71 points came on just 44 possessions. And it took 38 possessions (and more than 20 minutes) for Miami to finally get two stops in a row.

20140610_sas_1h_poss

After they did that, the Spurs proceeded to score 11 points on their final six possessions of the half. They hit some ridiculous shots, but also got good shots.

They had almost four times as many attempts in the paint (18) as they had from mid-range (5). For the game, San Antonio took just eight shots from mid-range, the same number they attempted in their Game 1 victory. In their Game 2 loss, they took 23 mid-range shots.

The Spurs made a change in the starting lineup, replacing Tiago Splitter with Boris Diaw. Their original starting lineup had played only 12 total minutes in the first two games, so it wasn’t a major adjustment. But the Spurs’ offense has always been better with Diaw on the floor, so the offensive explosion can’t be completely dismissed as a coincidence.

The Spurs aren’t going to shoot this well again, but the Heat do have to figure out a way to get stops. This was their worst defensive season since they came together in 2010, and they’ve got to find a new level soon.

Spurs’ first-half shot chart
20140610_sas_1h

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO Ratio = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA

The Finals Stat: Game 2


VIDEO: Nightly Notable: LeBron James

The basics
MIA SAS
Pace 90.5 90.5
OffRtg 108.6 105.7
EFG% 58.6% 51.2%
OREB% 16.1% 25.0%
TO Ratio 17.7 12.1
FTA rate 0.300 0.244

SAN ANTONIO — The Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs 98-96 in Game 2 of The Finals on Sunday. One stat stood out from the rest as the Heat evened the series at one game apiece as it heads to Miami for Games 3 and 4.

The stat

8 - Baskets by LeBron James from outside the paint, all in the second half.

The context

James got out on the break and got to the basket in the first half of Game 2, shooting 6-for-9 in the restricted area and 0-for-2 from mid-range. In the second half, the Spurs were able to cut off the paint, forcing him to take all 11 of his shots from the outside.

But he made eight of them. He was 5-for-8 from mid-range and 3-for-3 from 3-point range. That was more baskets from outside the paint than the rest of the Heat (7-for-28) had all game. James’ 35 points were the second most he’s scored in 24 Finals games, only topped by the 37 he scored in Game 7 last year.

James’ eight baskets from outside the paint were his most in 31 games (since he scored 43 points in a win in Cleveland on March 18). When his jumper is falling, there’s not much the defense can do.

It wasn’t falling through the first six games of last years Finals. As the Spurs sagged off him and dared him to shoot, James was just 21-for-62 (34 percent) from outside the paint in those six games. And if Chris Bosh doesn’t get that rebound and Ray Allen doesn’t hit that three at the end of regulation of Game 6, that would be that.

But in Game 7 last year, James was 9-for-20 from outside the paint. And he’s now 12-for-21 from outside the paint in this series. He’s had as many baskets from the outside in his last three Finals games as he had in his previous seven (he was 0-for-4 in Game 5 vs. Oklahoma City in 2012).

James still isn’t nearly as dangerous on the perimeter as he is in the paint, but if he’s hitting from outside, the Spurs have no choice but to play him closer. And that can open up lanes to the basket or shots for his teammates.

And as long as James is on the floor, the Heat offense is dangerous. Since halftime of Game 1, Miami outscored San Antonio by 22 points with James on the floor and has been outscored by 30 with him on the bench.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO Ratio = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA

Film Study: Spurs get good looks inside


VIDEO: Nightly Notable: Tim Duncan, Game 1, NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs suddenly have turned into the Houston Rockets.

Through their first 17 playoff games, the Spurs took 30 percent of their shots from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line), the most inefficient area of the floor. That rate is higher than the league average (27 percent) for the postseason.

But in their last two games (Game 6 of the conference finals in Oklahoma City and Game 1 of The Finals on Thursday), the Spurs have attempted just 12 percent (19/162) of their shots from mid-range, a rate that’s very Rockets-like. Since Game 2 of the Oklahoma City series, the Spurs have attempted 27 3-pointers per game. And on Thursday, they shot 13-for-25 from beyond the arc. They also shot 24-for-35 (69 percent) in the paint, their second-best percentage of the postseason.

All 10 of Tim Duncan‘s shots were from inside the paint. He made nine of them to lead the Spurs with 21 points. Tiago Splitter shot 5-for-6 in the paint. When their teammates were able to get them the ball, the bigs were able to finish.

“It’s where my shots come,”  Duncan said Friday. “We have a lot of shooters and I’m not going to stretch the court in that respect. Every once in a while I get a jumpshot from 15 to 18 feet, but mostly my effective range is in there right now. I’m going to pick‑and‑roll and try to get to open spots and try to take advantage of the rotation if they’re trapping.”

The Spurs committed 22 turnovers in Game 1, 14 of the live-ball variety. The Heat’s rotations were on point most of the night, but the Spurs were also very sloppy, failing to connect on some simple passes. But they executed well enough to score 110 points on 95 possessions. And much of that execution resulted in layups for their big men.

Pick, roll, and finish

Duncan’s final basket of the game, one that gave the Spurs the lead for good, was a simple pick-and-roll with Manu Ginobili on the left sideline. Chris Andersen stepped out to contain Ginobili, and Dwyane Wade gave him just enough space to deliver a pocket pass to the rolling Duncan…

20140606_roll1

And when Duncan made the catch, the only person between him and the basket was little Ray Allen. When a team is faced with this …

20140606_roll2

… the Spurs either have a layup or a wide-open Danny Green in the corner. Duncan chose the layup.

Four of Splitter’s five layups were pick-and-rolls, with him scoring over a smaller Miami help defender. San Antonio is smart, putting a guard in the weak side corner, so that it’s his man – a Miami guard – who’s rotating over to help on the roll man. That makes it easier for the Spurs’ big to finish over top.

“That’s by design,” Shane Battier said Friday. “We know it. And if we’re sharp in our rotations and meet the roller early, it can mitigate some of that.”

Drag, swing and drive

Layups don’t necessarily come one pass after the pick-and-roll. And the Spurs are the best team in the league at keeping the ball moving until the open shot can be found.

Duncan’s first basket of the second quarter was a result of a drag screen from Boris Diaw, which Tony Parker used to pull Rashard Lewis out to the sideline and give him a long distance to recover back to Diaw…

20140606_drag

Diaw drove past Lewis’ close-out, drew Chris Bosh‘s attention, and fed Duncan under the basket.

Pick-and-seal

Duncan’s second bucket of the game was a result of a pick-and-roll, but wasn’t him scoring over a guard. Instead, it was him refusing to let Bosh get back into position.

Bosh came out high on a Parker/Duncan pick-and-roll out of the corner…

20140606_seal1

When Bosh recovered, Duncan got his body between his defender and the basket and pushed Bosh out to the foul line. The Big Fundamental executed a perfect seal.

20140606_seal2

It was just a matter of getting him the ball. Green’s pass allowed Bosh to get back between Duncan and the basket, but Duncan still had good enough position to get a good look.

Around the front

The smaller Heat mostly front the low post, forcing their opponent to make difficult passes. This scheme works very well against the bigger Pacers, because the Pacers are bad passers.

But the Spurs have guys that can find the right angle on entry passes. One of those guys is Ginobili.

Here, Duncan got a cross-screen from Kawhi Leonard, but Lewis was still able to beat him to the block.

20140606_front1

A more timid passer would swing the ball to the other side. Ginobili found the proper angle…

20140606_front2

… and thread the needle for a Duncan layup. Duncan got another on a similar play late in the second quarter.

He’s good. Know where he is.

A couple of Duncan layups where just a result of a lack of recognition from Bosh. The Spurs’ first basket of the game came when Bosh had his head turned after getting back in transition. And another in the third quarter came when Bosh was on the weak side block and was astoundingly slow in recognizing Duncan’s cut to the basket.

The Heat defense certainly could be better. They need to be more aware, they need to pressure the ball to make those passes more difficult, and their help defenders need to meet the roll man farther from the basket.

“It starts with ball pressure,” Battier said. “I thought they had a lot of straight-line passes into the paint, which is really death for us. If you put two on the ball, you have to affect the tempo and the timing of the pass. We didn’t do that well enough. And B, we have to trust the rotator.”

“We have to do some things better, more committed, five‑man against a very good passing team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra added. “They’re well schooled. Some things that we need to adjust on. That’s what we’ll figure out in the next couple of days.”

The Spurs’ could certainly execute better, too. Their offense was a feast-or-famine situation in Game 1. And they won, because the fourth quarter, when they shot 14-for-16 (6-for-6 from 3-point range), was mostly feast. They may not shoot as well in Game 2 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), but they can certainly cut down on the turnovers and keep Miami from easy baskets on the other end of the floor.

The Finals Stat: Game 1


VIDEO: Spurs Light It Up In 4th

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 110-95 in Game 1 of The Finals on Thursday. One stat stood out from the rest as the Spurs took a 1-0 series lead.

The Game 1 basics
MIA SAS
Pace 94.8 94.8
OffRtg 101.2 115.0
EFG% 55.1% 68.4%
OREB% 17.1% 18.5%
TO Ratio 19.2 24.0
FTA rate 0.141 0.324

The stat

106% 

The Spurs’ effective field goal percentage in the fourth quarter.

EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA


The context

The Spurs got more than two points per shot in the fourth quarter, turning what was a seven-point deficit (after Chris Bosh converted a four-point play with 9:38 left) into a 15-point win. It had been the Heat who were dominant offensively in the fourth quarter over the last two rounds, but on Thursday, San Antonio scored 36 points on just 20 fourth-quarter possessions.

The Spurs drew a loose-ball foul on Dwyane Wade on one of their misses, and followed that up with a 3-pointer. So, on only one of their 20 possessions did they not score (15) or turn the ball over (4).

Twelve of the 14 buckets were assisted and 15 of the 16 shots were either from the paint or from behind the 3-point line. Danny Green shot 4-for-4 (3-for-3 on threes), Tony Parker shot 3-for-4, and Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter all shot 2-for-2.

Spurs fourth-quarter shot chart
20140605_sas_4thq

Did LeBron James‘ absence have something to do with it? Sure. They outscored the Heat 33-12 in 10:09 with James off the floor in the second half. But the Spurs’ fourth-quarter run started before he left the game with 7:31 left and they still had to make the shots they were given.

And they made all but two of them.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO Ratio = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA

Numbers preview: The Finals


VIDEO: GameTime: Finals Preview

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Considering how dramatic last year’s Finals was, now’s the perfect time for the first rematch in 16 years. The last time two teams faced each other in The Finals in back-to-back years was the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998.

We’re also returning to the 2-2-1-1-1 format for the first time since 1984. In the 29 years of the 2-3-2 format, the lower seed won all three games at home only three times (though the Heat did it in 2006 and 2012).

In these playoffs, the Spurs (9-1) and Heat (8-0) are a combined 17-1 at home, each scoring more than 116 points per 100 possessions. That’s ridiculously good offense, and we’re sure to see some more of it over the next 4-7 games.

These were two of the top six offensive teams in the regular season and have been the two best offensive teams in the playoffs. Comparing their offensive efficiency in each round with their opponents’ regular-season defensive numbers, both the Spurs and Heat have improved offensively during the playoffs.

The Heat (11th) are the first team since the 2006 Mavericks (11th) to make The Finals after not ranking in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in the regular season. And they’re aiming to be the first team since the 2001 Lakers (19th) to win the title after not ranking in the top 10.

The Spurs ranked in the top four defensively for the second straight season after sliding out of the top 10 the previous two. That they played more consistently on that end of the floor over the last seven months could give them the edge, as the team that can most consistently slow down the other over the next two weeks will win the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

But postseason series are often about matchups, and the Heat have the ultimate trump card in LeBron James. If it seems like this series could be decided by a possession or two, you only have to look back at last year’s to confirm that it certainly could.

Here are some statistical nuggets regarding these two teams’ paths to The Finals, their two regular season meetings, and last year’s scintillating series.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Stats and rankings are for the playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs (62-20)

First round: Beat Dallas in 7 games.
West semifinals: Beat Portland in 5 games.
West finals: Beat Oklahoma City in 6 games.
Pace: 96.2 (4)
OffRtg: 111.2 (2)
DefRtg: 101.0 (2)
NetRtg: +10.1 (1)

Regular season: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Miami: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
Playoffs: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Spurs by round

Round Opp. OffRtg Rank AdjO DefRtg Rank AdjD
First round DAL 110.2 3 +4.3 106.8 9 -2.2
Conf. semis POR 112.3 2 +7.5 93.9 1 -14.3
Conf. finals OKC 111.4 2 +10.4 100.7 1 -7.4

AdjO = OffRtg – opponent’s regular-season DefRtg
AdjD = DefRtg – opponent’s regular-season OffRtg

Playoff notes:

  1. Opponents have attempted just 25 free throws per 100 shots, the lowest opponent FTA rate of the playoffs. But their opponent free-throw rate has increased in each round, from 0.217 against Dallas to 0.233 against Portland and 0.303 against Oklahoma City.
  2. Their defensive rebounding percentage has improved each round.
  3. Their rate of 9.7 turnovers per 100 possessions in the conference semifinals against Portland has been the lowest turnover rate for any team in any series so far.
  4. According to SportVU, they lead the postseason with an effective field-goal percentage of 59.5 percent on catch-and-shoot opportunities.
  5. They’ve scored 124.0 points per 100 possessions in the second quarter, more than any other playoff team has scored in any quarter.
  6. The Spurs have outscored their opponents by 15.2 points per 100 possessions with Danny Green on the floor. That’s the best on-court NetRtg of any player that has logged at least 20 minutes per game in five or more playoff games.
  7. Kawhi Leonard has the best raw plus-minus of the playoffs at plus-111.
  8. Marco Belinelli is the only Spurs rotation player with a negative plus-minus. They’ve been outscored by 42 points in his 296 minutes on the floor and are a plus-186 in his 572 minutes on the bench. In the regular season, Belinelli had a better on-court NetRtg (plus-7.3) than Tim Duncan (plus-6.6) or Tony Parker (plus-6.7).
  9. Green has an effective field-goal percentage of 63.4 percent in the playoffs, a jump of 7.2 percent from his regular season mark (56.2). That’s the biggest EFG% jump of any player who has attempted at least 75 shots in the postseason.
  10. Duncan had 14 more rebounds than any other player in the conference finals.
  11. Manu Ginobili shot 15-for-30 (50 percent) from 3-point range in the conference finals after shooting 2-for-14 (14 percent) in the conference semifinals.
  12. The usage rates of Ginobili (28.9 percent, 25.9 percent, 23.8 percent) and Parker (31.8 percent, 30.4 percent, 25.0 percent) have decreased in each round. The usage rates of Duncan (19.9 percent, 20.2 percent, 25.4 percent), Boris Diaw (14.4 percent, 16.2 percent, 21.4 percent) and Green (11.7 percent, 17.1 percent, 17.8 percent) have increased in each round.
  13. Parker leads the postseason with 195 drives and 10.8 drives per game.
  14. The Spurs have outscored their opponents by 27.1 points per 100 possessions in 114 minutes with Ginobili, Leonard and Tiago Splitter on the floor together, the best three-man NetRtg among 194 trios that have logged at least 100 minutes.
  15. Patty Mills has traveled at the fastest average speed in the playoffs, 4.9 miles per hour.

(more…)