Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heat Produced: One King, Two Losses After Game 4 of NBA Finals

The Miami Heat lost Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals 86-83 to the Dallas Mavericks and now the series is tied 2-2 despite another great game from Dwyane Wade who scored 32 points and grabbed six rebounds.

How did they do it?

LeBron James said it best in the mini-movie, “Personally, I need to play better to help our team win.” Let’s take a look at the Wins Produced stats to see what LeBron’s talking about.

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 an estimated 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (Est.WP48), a star player produces +0.200 Est.WP48 and a superstar produces +0.300 Est.WP48. 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

Game Notes:
This spreadsheet lists the Wins Produced stats estimated from the box score for Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals.

The game began with lineup changes by Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle.

He replaced DeShawn Stevenson in the starting lineup with Jose Barea at shooting guard. Stevenson had produced 0.233 est.WP48 in the first three games while Barea had only produced -0.404 est.WP48. Barea produced -0.044 est.WP48 in Game 4, which means he was more productive playing with the starters. It also means that his production was still terrible. Stevenson produced 0.180 est.WP48 in Game 4 as the backup small forward.

The other change was replacing backup forward Peja Stojakovic (-0.356 est.WP48 in three games) with Brian Cardinal (0.005 WP48 for the season). Cardinal was the least productive player in Game 4 with an estimated -0.076 wins produced in 7.4 minutes (-0.493 est.WP48) from one brick, one rebound, one turnover and one foul.

In the end, Barea and Cardinal combined to increase the estimated winning percentage for the Mavs by 14.2 points in Game 4 compared to the production the team received in Games 1-3.

Was Barea’s improved play enough for the Mavs to win Game 4? Yes. Was it the reason they won Game 4? No.

Tyson Chandler was the most productive player in the game with an estimated 0.418 wins produced in 42.9 minutes (0.467 est.WP48) from 13 points on seven shots and eight free throw attempts with 16 rebounds. As mentioned in the pre-game article for Game 4, Chandler’s production has increased every game of the Finals. His increased production was important since Dirk Nowitzki played a below average game (0.069 est.WP48) with a sinus infection and backup center Brendan Haywood was limited to playing three minutes with a hip injury.

Wade was once again the most productive Heat player in the game with an estimated 0.270 wins produced in 39.5 minutes (0.329 est.WP48) from 32 points on 20 shots and nine free throw attempts with six rebounds, two blocks, one steal, one turnover and three fouls. It was the first time this series that Wade produced less than 0.400 est.WP48. Had Wade gone over 0.400 in Game 4, then there would have been a 50/50 shot the Heat win that game.

How could Wade have produced more than 0.400 est.WP48 in Game 4? Well, if he didn’t lose the ball out of bounds with 4:48 left in the fourth quarter, nailed both free throws with 30.1 seconds left and nailed a three to beat the buzzer instead of dropping the inbounds pass from Mike Miller then Wade would have produced 0.449 est.WP48 and Game 4 would have gone into overtime. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. What did happen was that Wade produced -0.117 est.WP48 in the fourth quarter from seven points on five shots and two free throw attempts with one rebound, two spectacular blocks, one turnover and three fouls. Dirk, on the other hand, produced 0.437 est.WP48 in the fourth quarter from 10 points on six shots and six free throw attempts with five rebounds and two turnovers.

Here’s a different “What if?” What if LeBron and Chris Bosh weren’t the two least productive Heat players in Game 4? LeBron produced an estimated -0.045 wins in 45.7 minutes (-0.048 est.WP48) from eight points on 11 shots and four free throw attempts with nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals, five turnovers and four fouls. Bosh produced an estimated -0.053 wins in 42.1 minutes (-0.061 est.WP48) from 24 points on 19 shots and eight free throws with six rebounds and four turnovers.

LeBron has been reduced to an average player in the Finals with just 0.104 est.WP48 after four games. Bosh has been reduced to the least productive Heat player in the Finals with -0.105 est.WP48. This spreadsheet lists the Heat Wins Produced stats estimated from the box scores for the Finals.

People have criticized LeBron for not shooting the ball enough and he is averaging eight less shots per 48 minutes than he did in the regular season, but he has also been below average in every category except shooting efficiency, steals and assists. Bosh has been below average in every category except shooting volume, scoring, assists and fouls. Wade, on the other hand, has been above average in every category except free throw shooting and turnovers.

The math is simple: the odds are against the Heat winning if LeBron or Bosh don’t provide an above average performance to help Wade against the Mavs. The Heat are winning the battle at two positions in the Finals — point guard (0.222 est.WP48) and shooting guard (0.266 est.WP48). It’s easy to see the advantages at those positions watching the games because Jason Kidd can’t guard Wade and Barea can’t guard Mario Chalmers.

Chalmers was the second-most productive Heat player in Game 4 with an estimated 0.184 wins produced in 29.5 minutes (0.300 est.WP48) from five points on five shots and three free throw attempts with four rebounds, six assists and three steals.

The Mavs have dominated the power forward (0.230 est.WP48) and center (0.279 est.WP48) positions in the Finals the same way the Heat have dominated the backcourt. The swing position in these games has been small forward. The winner of that position battle (i.e. est.WP48 > 0.100) has won each game and Game 4 was no different as Shawn Marion produced an estimated 0.115 wins in 25.7 minutes (0.215 est.WP48) from 16 points on 12 shots and two free throw attempts with four rebounds.

Let’s rundown the small forward position battle in the Finals...

  • Game 1: Heat produced 0.310 est.WP48 at SF
    • LeBron: 0.275 est.WP48
    • Marion: 0.219 est.WP48
  • Game 2: Heat produced -0.069 est.WP48 at SF
    • LeBron: 0.061 est.WP48
    • Marion: 0.103 est.WP48
  • Game 3: Heat produced 0.209 est.WP48 at SF
    • LeBron: 0.144 est.WP48
    • Marion: -0.009 est.WP48
  • Game 4: Heat produced 0.066 est.WP48 at SF
    • LeBron: -0.048 est.WP48
    • Marion: 0.215 est.WP48

LeBron has produced 0.062 est.WP48 in six games against the Mavericks this season while Wade has produced 0.358 est.WP48. In the Finals, Wade has been the most productive player with an estimated 1.4 wins produced. The next three most productive players are on the Mavs roster — Chandler (1.0 est. wins produced), Dirk (0.8 est. wins produced) and Kidd (0.5 est. wins produced). LeBron ranks fifth in this series with an estimated 0.4 wins produced.

If the Heat win two more games in the NBA Finals, then Wade will likely win the Finals Most Valuable Player award but they won’t be able to do it without better production from LeBron. A return of the King would be invaluable for the Heat in Game 5 and the rest of the series.

For all the Wins Produced stats from the Finals, the playoffs and the regular season, see the Heat Produced Page.

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

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