Tuesday, May 28, 2013

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Miami HEAT Let Pacers Know the Series Is Over

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade led the HEAT to a dominant Game 3 performance with indicators they can play even better in Games 4 and 5.

Before Game 3, it looked like defense and turnovers were the areas that needed improvement in order for the HEAT to win Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. They made some improvements in those areas but a big improvement on offense to score with 58% shooting efficiency and blow the Pacers off their home floor.

After all the White Noise that the HEAT were in trouble after Game 2, the real signal sent in Game 3 is they can still make improvements on defense against George Hill and do a better job of keeping Paul George off the free throw line.

That means the blowouts have just begun and this series is over. I'll let the numbers do the explaining...

This article uses the Estimated Wins Produced statistic created by sports economist David Berri. Average players increase a team's chance of winning 10% by producing 0.100 Estimated Wins per 48 minutes (Est.WP48) because an average NBA team produces a 0.500 winning percentage. See the HEAT Produced Page for more information.

LeBron was the most productive player in the game. He increased the HEAT's chance of winning Game 3 by 27% with an aggressive attack against Paul George on offense and defense.

Offensively, LeBron's shooting efficiency was below 50%, but he attacked George with at least 10 post-ups in Game 3 after posting him up just 3 times each in Games 1 and 2 (according to mysyngergysports.com). Most importantly, LeBron had 0 turnovers. He may not have another game without a turnover, but LeBron can definitely shoot better. His average shooting efficiency for the series was 65% in Miami.

Defensively, LeBron held George to 1 bucket and 3 turnovers in 8 plays with no fouls. Some of George's poor offense came down to just missing shots, but LeBron defended him more plays than any other HEAT player and the HEAT got the results they wanted. According to mysynergysports.com, LeBron guarded George on 8 plays, Wade 7 plays, Ray Allen 3 plays and Mario Chalmers 1 play. The end result was that George's poor production decreased the Pacers' chance of winning Game 3 by 1%. That's an 11% swing from the production George provided when the Pacers won Game 2.

Dwyane Wade was the 2nd most productive player in the game. He increased the HEAT's chance of winning Game 3 by 24% with 18 points, 57% shooting efficiency, 8 assists, just 2 turnovers, 2 blocks and 1 steal. While he was dominant offensively, on defense Wade continued to struggle keeping George off the free throw line. He committed 2 fouls for 4 free throw attempts in 7 defensive plays.

The other part of the HEAT defense that needed improvement was at point guard. George Hill's shooting efficiency was much higher than what the HEAT typically allowed from opposing PGs during the season. Hill scored 19 points with 65% shooting efficiency in Game 3, but he only increased the Pacer's chance of winning by 6% - that's a 28% drop from Game 2 when LeBron called him the X-Factor.

How did the HEAT limit Hill's impact on Game 3 if they didn't limit his shooting efficiency? Mario Chalmers did it by playing an even better offensive game than Hill did. 'Rio scored 14 points with 75% shooting efficiency and committed no turnovers to increase the HEAT's chance of winning Game 3 by 10%. Cole also committed no turnovers after leading the team in turnover rate the first 2 games of the series.

The biggest change from Game 2 to Game 3 was the production at power forward. HEAT PFs only increased the team's chance of winning by 4% in Games 1 and 2, but they increased the team's chance of winning Game 3 by 24% thanks to Udonis Haslem.

UD increased the HEAT's chance of winning by 21% by knocking down all but one of the open baseline jumpers Roy Hibbert gave him (89% shooting efficiency). UD may not shoot like that again, but the Pacers defense will have to adjust to him as an offensive threat on the floor. How UD and the HEAT attack those adjustments could lead to even more problems for Indiana in Game 4.

The spreadsheet below lists the wins produced stats estimated for all players from the boxscore for Game 3.

Boxscore and play-by-play stats from NBA.com and PopcornMachine.net.

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