Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heat Produced: Benched by the Bulls but Wade Was Spellbinding with Wizards

The Heat Produced Page has been updated with stats for games played through February 25th against the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.

The Heat lost to the Bulls 93-89 with an efficiency differential of -7.1 and an expected winning percentage of 0.260. Miami produced an estimated 0.290 wins against Chicago.

The next night, the Heat beat the Wizards 121-113 with an efficiency differential of +5.3 and an expected winning percentage of 0.644. Miami produced an estimated 0.661 wins against Washington.

Who was responsible for the estimated production of wins (or lack thereof) in both games? Let's take a look at the estimated wins produced by the players.

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 efficiency differential and wins. An average player produces 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (WP48), a star player produces 0.200+ WP48 and a superstar produces 0.300+ WP48. More information on these stats can be found at the following links:

Bench Plays Worse Than Bosh In Loss to the Bulls
The big story after the Heat's loss to the Bulls was Chris Bosh's 1-18 shooting. Yes, it was the worst shooting performance in the last 25+ years, but it wasn't the worst performance for the Heat in Chicago. To illustrate this point, here's a spreadsheet with the estimated wins produced by each player in the Heat-Bulls game.

Bosh negatively impacted the Heat's chances of winning with an estimated -0.107 wins produced from seven points on 1-18 shooting with nine rebounds and it was his third-worst game of the season. His worst games of the season came against the Bobcats on February 4 (-0.150 est. wins produced) and the Hornets on November 5 (-0.110 est. wins produced).

As bad as Bosh was, Eddie House was worse. House produced -0.154 estimated wins in 14.9 minutes from two points on 1-5 shooting with four fouls. James Jones also came off the bench to play worse than Bosh with an estimated -0.132 wins produced from 0-3 shooting with one steal and two fouls. Joel Anthony came off the bench and was about as bad as Bosh with an estimated -0.103 wins produced from one rebound, one block, one turnover and three fouls in 17.9 minutes.

When it was all said and done, the Heat reserves played their worst game of the season with -0.405 est. WP48. To make matters worse, that terrible performance came against a Bulls team that had the third-best bench in the NBA with an average of 0.093 WP48 when I ran the numbers in January. The Bulls bench was even better against the Heat with an estimated 0.144 WP48.

Fans can focus on Dwyane Wade's defensive mistake that left Luol Deng wide open or LeBron James' rushed, fall-away three-point shot on the next, but the benches were really the story of the game. The Heat starters produced an estimated 0.679 wins in 193.9 minutes (0.168 est. WP48) as Coach Erik Spoelstra shortened his lineup to eight players as if it was a playoff game. The Bulls starters only produced an estimated 0.455 wins in 154.9 minutes (0.141 est. WP48) as Coach Tom Thibodeau stuck with a typical regular season rotation of 10 players.

The Heat starters played well enough to win. LeBron and Mario Chalmers played like superstars with productivity estimated to be greater than 0.300 WP48 and Wade played like a star with an estimated 0.223 WP48. Even if Bosh was average (0.100 est. WP48), then the Heat would have still had an efficiency differential slightly below zero and would have only produced an estimated 0.497 wins. If the Heat reserves played as well as the average NBA bench (which was 0.038 WP48 in January), then the Heat would have produced an estimated 0.716 wins.

With all of the focus on shooting, the most important aspect in the game was a little overlooked - rebounding. The Bulls outrebounded the Heat 53-39. In the first quarter, they were tied with 13 rebounds apiece and the Heat were turning defensive rebounds into fast break at blinding speeds and ended the period with an estimated 0.522 wins produced on 13-22 shooting. They were outrebounded in every other quarter and only shot 19-57 from the floor.

The bench and rebounding deficiencies illustrated how much the Heat need Mike Miller or Udonis Haslem in order to be effective. With either of those players coming off the bench, the Heat have one of the top five most productive groups of reserves. A key part of Miller and Haslem's production is their rebounding. Haslem was the leading rebounder with an average of 14.8 rebounds per 48 minutes and Miller is tied with Zydrunas Ilgauskas for third with an average of 12.6 rebounds per 48 minutes.

None of those three played against the Bulls and the Heat got killed on the boards in a game against Joakim Noah and Omer Asik, two of the top-25 per minute rebounders in the NBA. Spoelstra has been experimenting with Erick Dampier in the starting lineup since the All-Star break, but the problem is that he's a worse rebounderAsik grabbed 11 rebounds in 20.7 minutes.

In two games, Bulls centers are averaging 14.5 rebounds per 48 minutes while Heat centers are only averaging 6 rebounds per 48 minutes. Big Z has only played 7.9 minutes against the Bulls this season while Asik is averaging 20.3 rebounds per 48 minutes against Miami.

As a result of Asik's dominance on the glass, he has been the second-most productive player for the Bulls against the Heat in two games and has produced as many estimated wins as Wade. This spreadsheet breaks down the production of each player in the Heat-Bulls season series.

One last note about Heat-Bulls... The Bulls have produced an estimated 1.1 wins in the second half against the Heat while Miami has only managed to produce an estimated -0.4 wins in the second half. I don't know if the issue is Thibodeau making better adjustments at halftime than Spoelstra (the Heat have had the lead in both games at halftime) or if the Heat players have fatigued in the second half. Either way, it's something the Heat need to correct before next Sunday when the Bulls come to Miami.

Young Fro vs. Agent D3
For the second time this season, Wade went for 40+ points on the second night of a back-to-back set of games. As shocking as that was, it was even more shocking that the Wizards played hard to try and win their second game on the road this season.

Despite changes to their roster after the trade deadline, the Wizards were almost as productive against the Heat as they were when the Heat had to pull off a miraculous comeback for a 95-94 win in D.C. This time the Heat did a better job of keeping the lead, and the score, much more comfortable. This spreadsheet illustrates which players stepped up for Washington after the trade deadline and which Heat players came up big on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Wizards' Nick Young scored 38 points on 19 shots to produce an estimated 0.423 wins as he battled Wade to a virtual standstill. Agent D3 produced an estimated 0.407 wins from 41 points on 27 shots with five rebounds and two steals. Young's performance was the third-best game by a Heat opponent this season. For some reason, nine of the top 10 performances against the Heat this season have come from centers and shooting guards.

While Young was having a great game in a losing effort, Josh Howard was the least productive player for the Wizards with an estimated -0.187 wins produced. Jones was the least productive player for the Heat with an estimated -0.189 wins produced. Hopefully, Jones isn't experiencing the same post All-Star break decline that Daequan Cook had two seasons ago after winning the three-point shootout. Jones shot 60 percent (that's adjusted shooting percentage) from the floor before the All-Star break but is just shooting 39.5 percent from the floor in three games since.

Like the Bulls game, Jones wasn't the only sub-par player off the bench. The reserves turned in their third worst game of the season with an estimated -0.166 WP48. The difference against the Wizards was that their bench was also terrible (-0.105 est. WP48) and the Heat starters (0.238 est. WP48) were far superior to the Washington starters (0.141 est. WP48).

Speaking of starters, Bosh bounced back against the Wizards with an estimated 0.233 wins produced in 40.2 minutes for 0.278 est. WP48.

Finally, some notes on the Wizards-Heat season series:
  • After three games, the Heat have outplayed the Wizards at every position except center. Miami centers only average an estimated 0.019 WP48 against Washington. 
  • Oddly enough, the Heat's most dominant position against the Wizards has been point guard, where they average 0.254 est. WP48. That's probably a result of John Wall only playing in one of the three games. Wall was a little below average with an estimated 0.080 WP48, but Kirk Hinrich was terrible in the first two games with an estimated -0.036 WP48. Chalmers has averaged an estimated 0.223 WP48 against the Wizards this season.
  • For the season series, the Heat have outplayed the Wizards in every quarter.

A full statistical summary of the Wizards-Heat season series can be found in this spreadsheet.

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

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