Saturday, November 13, 2010

Miami Heat Check: It Was All Good Just A Week Ago, Part 1

A week ago, the Miami Heat were in New Orleans with a 4-1 record and a winning streak. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers had enjoyed a good dinner with Chris Paul the night before and it was all good.

A week later, the Heat are home in Miami with a 1-3 record and two-game losing streak since that meal with Chris Paul in New Orleans. And it ain't all good after being involved in tough games with some Eastern Conference bodiers and Western Conference cap peelers. What happened?

This article will use Win Score and Estimated Wins Produced, statistical models created by Professor David Berri from the Wages of Wins Journal, to measure how much a player's box score statistics contributed to their team's performance. An average player produces an estimated 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (EWP48), a star player produces 0.200+ EWP48 and a superstar produces 0.300+ EWP48. More information on these stats can be found at the following links:

Simple Models of Player Performance
Wins Produced vs. Win Score
What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say
Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Jazz 116, Heat 114
The week got off to a bad start with an amazing loss to the Utah Jazz who entered the game with just a 1.3 percent chance of winning. Paul Millsap squeezed out every drop of that 1.3 percent by scoring a career-high 46 points, including an unbelievable 11 points in the last 28 seconds of the fourth quarter, to lead a successful comeback from a 19-point halftime deficit. In hindsight, the prediction for that game looked silly and the good people of Bleacher Report let me know how silly they thought it was (see HERE and HERE).

The Heat have outscored opponents by 81 points in the third quarter and produced 3.6 more wins in that quarter over nine games for an average margin of 0.4 wins in the third quarter so far this season. It was the opposite story against Utah on Tuesday night. The Heat were less productive than their opponent in the third quarter for the first time this season. The Jazz produced an estimated 0.445 wins in the third quarter compared to an estimated 0.004 wins for the Heat.

Millsap owned the third quarter. He scored 18 points and produced an estimated 0.852 WP48. The second-most productive player in the quarter was Deron Williams with an estimated 0.680 WP48. The only Jazz starter that was below average in the third quarter was Raja Bell with an estimated -0.017 WP48.

Dwyane Wade (estimated 0.762 WP48) and Joel Anthony (estimated 0.313 WP48) were the only players on the Heat that came out of the locker room ready to play the second half. The other three starters were below average and combined to produce -0.133 wins in the third quarter.

As bad as the third quarter was for the Heat (it was their fourth-worst quarter this season), they were almost able to match that level of ineptitude in the fourth quarter as they put together their fifth-worst period of the season. The Jazz entered the fourth quarter trailing by 13 points but over the next 12 minutes they produced 0.4 more wins than the Heat.

When it was winning time, Millsap and Deron Williams went to work. They combined to produce an estimated 0.3 wins in the last five minutes of regulation and put Millsap in position to send the game into overtime with a put-back at the buzzer.

The Heat also gave Millsap a chance to win the game by missing seven free throws in the fourth quarter that were worth 0.1 wins. The Jazz produced an estimated 0.523 wins for the game compared to an estimated 0.477 wins for the Heat. Those free throws were crucial.

In overtime, Andrei Kirilenko won the game for the Jazz by stuffing the stat sheet AK-47 style. He scored five points without missing a shot, grabbed two rebounds and assisted a Kyrylo Fesenko layup. Kirilennko provided 83 percent of the team's production in overtime with the rest coming from two Francisco Elson free throws with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.

Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 10 points, two rebounds and two fouls that produced an estimated 0.110 wins for the Heat in overtime. That would have been enough to win but the rest of the team produced an estimated -0.165 wins to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

When it was all said and done, Utah's three-man Jazz band outplayed the Three Kings from Miami. Deron Williams, Millsap and Kirilenko all played like superstars and combined to produce an estimated 0.771 wins while LeBron James, Wade and Bosh only combined to produce an estimated 0.583 wins.

Dethroned: Comparing Utah's 3-Man Band to Miami's Three Kings
Deron Williams (0.318 EWP48) vs. Dwyane Wade (0.331 EWP48)
Andrei Kirilenko (0.313 EWP48) vs. LeBron James (0.279 EWP48)
Paul Millsap (0.343 EWP48) vs. Chris Bosh (0.099 EWP48)

The spreadsheet below contains the Wins Produced analysis of the box score for the game against the Jazz. You can also view it at Google Docs (click on the spreadsheet labeled JAZZ-110910).

Celtics 112, Heat 107
Two nights after the Musical Miracle By Biscayne Bay, the Heat lost their second game to the Celtics and their second consecutive game at home. The Heat came into the game with a 64.3 percent chance of winning but it didn't look like it after the opening tip.

The obvious problem for the Heat was that the Three Kings were outplayed by the Celtics' Big Three. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh only combined to produce an estimated 0.054 wins while Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined to produce an estimated 0.699 wins. If Paul Pierce took his talents to South Beach, it didn't really show up in the box score because his production was well below average. A comparison of each team's Big Three is below.

Dethroned: Boston's Three-Leaf Clover vs. Miami's Three Kings
Ray Allen (0.386 EWP48) vs. Dwyane Wade (-0.400 EWP48)
Paul Pierce (0.025 EWP48) vs. LeBron James (0.364 EWP48)
Kevin Garnett (0.450 EWP48) vs. Chris Bosh (0.070 EWP48)

If you squint past the star power, the most productive player on the floor was Udonis Haslem who scored 21 points by only missing one shot, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked one shot and had one steal with an estimated 0.558 WP48. The only other player with above average production was Eddie House (0.314 EWP48) who outplayed his replacement in Boston through three quarters, but Nate Robinson went off in the fourth quarter and ended the game with 0.679 EWP48.

One of the best things this Miami Heat team has brought back to the NBA for me this season was a hatred of the Boston Celtics. I grew up with the NBA in the '80s as a huge Magic Johnson fan and I felt weird rooting for the Celtics to keep Kobe Bryant from winning titles in two of the last three years. But from Paul Pierce's tweet to Big Baby's post-shower declaration, the Celtics' arrogance, trash-talking and bullying have brought back that hatred and that's why the two losses to Boston are frustrating (my little brother, who's a huge KG fan, doesn't help).

Eight players in the Heat's nine-man rotation have provided above average production (EWP48 > 0.100) this season, and the ninth player, Joel Anthony, is very close with 0.097 EWP48. The Celtics have cut that number in half. The spreadsheet below details Miami players' production against the Boston defense.

Haslem (0.453 EWP48) has been dominant against Boston and House (0.201 EWP48) has played like a star. LeBron (0.159 EWP48)  and Joel Anthony (0.126 EWP48) have both been above average, but the rest of the team has been horrific with an average EWP48 of -0.098 in the first two games with the Celtics.

It looks like the Heat's former video coordinator will have to look at a lot of video to figure out how to get Haslem and LeBron some help for their next game against the Celtics.

The spreadsheet below contains the Wins Produced analysis of the box score for the game against the Celtics. You can also view it at Google Docs (click on the spreadsheet labeled CELTICS-111110).

Who is next up for the Heat? A Toronto team that just defeated Orlando.  What is next up for the Miami Heat Index? Part 2 of this article, which will analyze the bigger picture of what, if anything, is wrong with the Miami Heat.


  1. As good as the Heat can be, I think the interior bigs need to be a point of concern as Bosh is not an elite rebounder. Bigger front lines like those of the Lakers and Celtics can possibly bully the Heat bigs and create a huge advantage on that front. I thought the Heat were going to be a super team, but it appears that will not be possible without Mike Miller.

  2. Good question, Prof. Silly. I'm going to answer it in a separate post.

  3. Prof. Silly:

    I addressed your comment in this post -