Saturday, June 16, 2012

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh Did Not Play Like 3 Kings in OKC

The Miami HEAT's Three Kings played like Children of a Lesser God instead of immortals in Oklahoma City and still left with the NBA Finals tied 1-1. Is that a good or bad thing?

Estimated Wins Produced in Games 1 and 2
The wins produced for the first two games of the Finals were estimated from the box scores of Game 1 and Game 2 (see the spreadsheets below). The  HEAT Produced Page will be updated with summary stats for The Finals and the 2012 White HOT playoffs after Game 3.

Since an average team's winning percentage is 0.500, an average player produces 0.100 estimated wins per 48 minutes (est.WP48). A star player produces 0.200 est.WP48 and great players produce 0.300 est.WP48.  See the HEAT Produced Page for more information on Estimated Wins Produced.

HEAT & Thunder Production in the 2012 Finals
In Game 1, Mario Chalmers and LeBron James were the most productive players and Chris Bosh was the least productive player. In Game 2, Bosh and Shaved Monkey Nuts aka Shane Battier were the most productive players and Norris Cole was the least productive player.

When you put it all together, LeBron has been about half as productive as he's been in the 2012 playoffs while Wade and Bosh's production has been below average. The table below summarizes the HEAT's production in the 2012 Finals.

L James 2 88.1 0.151 0.277
S Battier 2 83.7 0.149 0.260
M Chalmers 2 74.9 0.088 0.138
D Wade 2 82.0 0.076 0.130
C Bosh 2 74.0 0.032 0.049
M Miller 2 11.4 0.103 0.024
J Jones 1 5.6 0.155 0.018
J Anthony 1 2.1 -0.052 -0.002
U Haslem 2 45.0 -0.063 -0.059
N Cole 1 13.3 -0.266 -0.074

Despite having an average lead of 10 points in Game 2, the HEAT only produced a 50.8% chance of winning while the Thunder produced a 49.2% chance of winning. That's bad.

What was good in Game 2 is that Kevin Durant was only 1/3rd as productive as he was in Game 1. If that continues, then it's good for the HEAT. Durant's problem in Game 2 was that shooting was the only thing he did well and he didn't do that well in the 1st half when the Thunder got buried under what turned out to be an insurmountable lead.

What's bad for the HEAT is that Durant and Russell Westbrook have been the two most productive players in the 2012 Finals so far. That probably needs to change for the HEAT to win this series. The table below summarizes the Thunder's production in the 2012 Finals.

K Durant 2 84.4 0.225 0.396
R Westbrook 2 83.9 0.192 0.335
T Sefolosha 2 65.9 0.174 0.239
N Collison 2 35.8 0.253 0.189
K Perkins 2 44.3 0.073 0.067
S Ibaka 2 56.5 0.033 0.038
J Harden 2 57.1 0.016 0.019
D Fisher 2 49.1 -0.011 -0.012
D Cook 1 3.1 -0.498 -0.032

What's bad for the HEAT is that LeBron's production is well below his season and playoff averages for the second consecutive Finals appearance with Miami. LeBron's only the third-most productive player in the 2012 Finals after two games. That would be fine if Wade was playing like he usually does in The Finals, but that's not the case, either. That's bad.

In Game 2, Bosh and Wade were more productive than LeBron and carried the HEAT in the 1st half until the MVP took over the 2nd half. If the 3 Kings can put together complete games in front of the White HOT HEAT crowds at American Airlines Arena, then that will be good.

Series Outlook
I predicted the HEAT to beat the Thunder in 5 games and still feel confident about that. It's reasonable to expect LeBron, Wade and Bosh to be more productive (at the least, they'll get to the FT line more) and it's also reasonable to expect Udonis Haslem to shoot a better percentage at home.

As for the Thunder, I think their adjustments would be harder. It's reasonable to expect Harden to play better. Maybe Durant can better in the 1st halves, but he and Westbrook's production has been pretty good so far. At best, the Thunder could force Coach Spo to put LeBron on Durant more often.

As for Scott Brooks, the only impactful adjustment he could make with his rotation is to give Nick Collison more minutes than Fisher and Perkins. I'd actually welcome that change because it would force Spo to play UD more minutes. I'll take my chances in a battle between UD and Collison.

After 2 games, I still don't think this series goes back to OKC, but it's up to the Three Kings to make sure that doesn't happen.

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