Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heat Produced: Miami 106, New York 98

The Heat Produced Page has been updated with stats from last night's 106-98 win over the New York Knicks.

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:

While posting the update, I was listening to The B.S. Report: 12/29: "Bill Simmons and J.A. Adande discuss whether it's time to panic about the Lakers, the emergence of Blake Griffin and more from the NBA."

There were some interesting points made in the podcast that were not only relevant to the Heat-Lakers game, but the Heat-Knicks matchup last night, too.

  • Despite all the talk that the Lakers didn't try to win their Christmas game against the Heat, Adande admits that Phil Jackson went after the win by playing Kobe 40 minutes. I'm glad someone from ESPN finally told the truth about that game.
  • Of course, Adande then takes a shot at LeBron by saying his performance against the Lakers was disappointing because he didn't come out hell-bent on destroying the Lakers. The truth is that LeBron had his most productive game of the season against the Lakers with an estimated 0.745 WP48 and 0.593 wins produced. LeBron produced an estimated 0.667 WP48 and 0.417 wins produced against the Cavaliers. I give Simmons credit for defending LeBron's performance. I give Adande credit for reinforcing the notion that Kobe fans are delusional, misguided souls.
  • Simmons says the Heat made the Lakers look old and slow. 

This is an important point. While everyone was focusing on the Heat's weakness in the middle they missed the fact that the NBA changed over night. The last three titles were decided by size. Those days are over. The NBA is about speed now.

The only established team that noticed it before the season began was Gregg Popovich and the Spurs (oddly enough, they were the only team to congratulate the Heat on their off-season transactions).  The Magic caught on after their slow start and I believe that's why they made the trade for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas.  

The Heat have speed in spades. You cannot run with the Heat and that's why these games against the Knicks were important. 

The Celtics have struggled against the Knicks this year. They've won two games by a total of just six points. The Knicks are improved, but they shouldn't be good enough to play the Celtics to a -6 point differential after two games. The Knicks did to the Celtics what the Heat did to the Lakers - they made them look old and slow.

Imagine what the new Heat running game will do to the Celtics. I believe they will make them look old and slow when they play them on February 13th.

OK - now back to the Knicks. If this game wasn't over at halftime, it was definitely over after three quarters. The Knicks only produced an estimated -0.250 wins after two quarters. After three quarters, the Knicks' production increased to an estimated -0.216 wins produced while the Heat had produced an estimated 0.810 wins.

An estimated advantage of 1.026 wins produced after three quarters makes the fourth quarter "extended garbage time" as Marv Albert would say. No matter how close the final score looked, the Heat produced an estimated 0.946 wins to an estimated 0.054 wins produced by the Knicks. 

One other note on this game I'd like to make is Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Andres Alvarez has been posting about Perfect Wins Produced Games on the Nerd Numbers blog and last night Big Z had one of those type of games. His estimated WP48 was 1.250! He only played 14.2 minutes in the game but it was still enough to be the most productive Heat player on the floor. It was his best game of the season so far.

Wait, one last note - Chris Bosh outplayed Amare Stoudemire again. Much like the game itself, don't get fooled by the scoring totals. Bosh was much more efficient shooting the ball and had a better overall game.

The spreadsheet below contains the Wins Produced analysis of the box score for the game against the Knicks. You can also view it at Google Docs (click on the spreadsheet labeled KNICKS-122810).

You can find all of the updated stats for Estimated Wins Produced by Miami Heat players on the Heat Produced page.

Unless referenced otherwise, original game data used for this post was taken from and


  1. I'm not sure how broadly I agree with the "size is nothing, speed is everything now" analysis, but I'm tempted by it just because of your comment about the Spurs. It really can't be overstated just how much better at this whole running a basketball team thing the Spurs are over every other team in the league. That said, I'm not yet convinced that the Spurs increased pace isn't a case of convergent evolution rather than a direct reaction to the new-look Heat.

    I can't wait for the Spurs to play the Heat. The Spurs will be the underdogs, but I think it will be a competitive game.

  2. EJ:

    I think I did a bad job communicating my point. I don't think the Spurs reacted directly to the Heat but the state of the NBA instead. Fact of the matter is that no team's going to be able to acquire the amount of skilled big men the Lakers & Celtics have because Michael Heisley won't let Chris Wallace trade Z-Bo & Kevin McHale isn't a GM anymore. The only way to battle size is with speed and, right now, there's more quality speed in the league than size and the rule changes favor speed over size.

    The Spurs and Heat were the 1st two teams to take advantage of this reality and the Bulls & Thunder arere ready-made to exploit it, too. The Magic caught on after a disappointing start. The amazing thing is that Boston could've done the same thing, but chose to go the size route. I'd trust Rondo to spearhead a speed attack against any D in the league, but I think they chose to go big because their older players aren't going to want to push the pace. Hell, the Heat players didn't want to push the pace early in the season, either.

    I agree with you, though - Spurs-Heat will be a great matchup. I'm not sure the Spurs will be underdogs, though. The Heat will get more coverage by the media outlets, but if the Spurs keep winning at their current pace it will be tough for Vegas to balance the betting if the Spurs were underdogs.

  3. Man, 1st game between Spurs-Heat isn't until Mar 4th in San Antonio. Too early to call who'll be favored, there's a lot of basketball to be played between then & now.

  4. Ah, I see. Your explanation here clarified your argument for me a great deal. That trying to compete on size is a losing proposition this season is a stronger argument than the one I thought you were making. Rather than size not being important, size is already being done about as well as it can be by the Lakers and Celtics, so competing with them means optimizing a different variable. That makes sense.

    I was thrown off from understanding you in the post by this line, I think: "The last three titles were decided by size. Those days are over. The NBA is about speed now." Which seems to imply that size teams can't be effective anymore. It still can, teams just have to have as much size talent as the Lakers or Celtics to do it. I suspect that it would have read better as "The last three titles were decided by size, and those teams are still around. There isn't enough size remaining to compete on that axis, so for every other team the NBA is about speed now."

    It occurs to me that this is Berri's "short supply of tall people" effect being exacerbated by hoarding, to the extent that teams are now trying to find game plans that just do without the tall people.

  5. And I don't think it's too surprising that Boston chose to go the size route; size is the very deeply established wisdom in the NBA. Unless you are Mike D'Antonio or as freakish a combination of iconoclast and pragmatist as Gregg Popovich, chances are you at a fundamental level think that size is a potent answer to any basketball problem. (See Darko Milicic's extant career.) It would be a very rare coach or GM who, faced with a choice between being a running team and a size team, would let any contextual issues keep him from choosing size.

  6. E.J.:

    I actually don't think another team will win the NBA title in the next 5 years w/ size because there aren't any dominant big men in the league right now but there are dominant speed players like LeBron & Wade. Gasol can be an efficient & productive player but he's far from being a dominant big man and the same goes for Dwight Howard.

    The Lakers' size is flawed because Bynum can't stay healthy and nobody's scared of a frontline with just Gasol & Odom - it's the equivalent of Al Horford & Josh Smith. Yeah, it's nice, but you're not winning titles with it.

    Boston's size is flawed because they're big men stink (except for KG). That's why I don't understand why they chose to go the size route in the off-season. They were able to advance in the playoffs by exploiting matchups w/ the washed up big men they signed! Jermaine O'Neal played terrible against the Celtics in the 1st round of last year's playoffs. Shaq was terrible in the next round. Those decisions could only have been determined by one of two things - arrogance or misguided desperation. I think it's the latter. Either way, it was a mistake. They were able to beat the Heat in both games w/ their perimeter players - Rondo, Allen & Pierce. I covered that in an earlier article -

    As for the Magic, they have Dwight Howard, but aren't really a big team. In fact, without Rashard Lewis, they're smaller than the Heat (if you go by average lbs/in).

    To summarize a lengthy comment, no - I don't think a size team can be effective right now because there's just not enough quality size to beat teams that only have average size but quality speed. This is the reality Berri describes in the Short Supply of Tall People. There are a lot of stiffs in the NBA. Hoarding stiffs won't get the job done (*cough* Boston, *cough* Bynum). Teams would be better off spending that money on speed until the dominant big men return.

    I think this is all cyclical. The Lakers & Celtics had tremendous size in the 80s. Then the Pistons & Bulls came along w/ tremendous speed on the perimeter in the 90s. Shaq & Duncan dominated w/ their size in the 2000s and the Lakers & Celtics responded to that with their own size. In this new decade, speed is back. The marketing people at Adidas & Nike were prophets - "fast don't lie" and "quick can't be caught".