Friday, June 14, 2013

2013 NBA Finals: The 3 Kings Returned in Game 4, Will the Older Gods Strike Back in Game 5?

When the Miami HEAT needed the 3 Kings the most, they were there in a Flash to take back home-court advantage in the NBA Finals. Will they be able to withstand the wrath of the San Antonio Spurs' Older Gods in Game 5?

Facing a 2-1 series deficit with their backs against the wall, the 3 Kings made the HEAT the faster, more physical and more focused team in Game 4. They won 3 of the 5 Factors needed to win this Finals matchup: Fast, Physical, Free Space, Fatigue and Foul Trouble.

The faster HEAT were +8 in steals and +8 in fastbreak points. The more physical HEAT grabbed 2 more offensive rebounds than the Spurs and outscored them 50-38 in the paint. The more focused HEAT outscored the Spurs by 11 points in the 4th quarter with 65% shooting efficiency while the fatigued Spurs committed 7 turnovers.

The HEAT's small lineups got them into some foul trouble and enabled the Spurs to create more free space for shooters as they struggled to defend Tony Parker and Tim Duncan in the paint, but those disadvantages weren't enough to keep the game close in the 4th quarter.

Fast: Advantage HEAT
Fast break points: HEAT 14, Spurs 6
Steals: HEAT 13, Spurs 5

Dwyane Wade had 6 steals. He and Isiah Thomas are the only players in NBA Finals history to total 30+ points and 6 steals in a game.

Physical: Advantage HEAT
Offensive rebounds: HEAT 7, Spurs 5
Points in the paint: HEAT 50, Spurs 38

Lebron James led the HEAT with 3 offensive rebounds. Wade led the HEAT with 20 points in the paint.

Free Space: Advantage Spurs
Jumpshooting: Spurs scored 32 points on 27 shots outside the paint, HEAT scored 44 points on 47 shots outside the paint

Gary Neal and Danny Green shot 6-9 from 3-point land. The HEAT invaded their space enough so they only took 9 threes in Game 4 instead of 19 like they did in Game 3.

Fatigue: Advantage HEAT
4th quarter execution
  • HEAT: 28 points, 65% shooting efficiency, 4 turnovers, 1 off. rebound, 2-2 free throw shooting
  • Spurs: 17 points, 37% shooting efficiency, 7 turnovers, 4 off. rebounds, 6-8 free throw shooting

In the 4th quarter, Spo gave LeBron three-and-a-half minutes rest, Bosh two-and-a-half minutes rest and Wade just 30 seconds to keep his knee warm. It worked. The 3 Kings combined to score 25 of the HEAT's 28 4th quarter points and increased the team's chance of winning by 48% over the last 12 minutes of the game.

Foul Trouble: Advantage Spurs
Fouls: Spurs 18, HEAT 26
Free throws per shot ratio: Spurs 23 FTs on 70 shots (33%), HEAT 15 FTs on 85 shots (18%)

Wade, Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen sent Old Man Riverwalk to the line for 10 free throws as the HEAT struggled to guard him with their small lineups.

Most Productive Players
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.

The story before the game was Spoelstra putting Mike Miller in the starting lineup. The story after the game was the Return of the 3 Kings. The new starting lineup played 11.4 minutes of the game and was outscored by 9 points (see, but Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh combined for 85 points, 30 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 turnovers, 10 steals and 5 blocks so it didn’t matter.

The 3 Kings combined to increase the HEAT's chance of winning Game 4 by 96%. The 3 Older Gods on the Spurs combined to increase their team's chance of winning by just 0.1%.

Dwyane Wade dominated the Spurs for a 10-minute stretch from 2:34 left in the 3rd quarter to 4:27 left in the 4th quarter that stretched a 6-point HEAT lead to 15 and put the game away. Wade scored 13 points on 6-8 shooting with 3 steals that increased the HEAT’s chance of winning by 30% and guaranteed a Game 6 in Miami. Wade started off aggressive with 8 points in the 1st quarter and ended it that way to swing home-court advantage back to the defending NBA champions.

Chris Bosh was the 2nd-most important HEAT player in Game 4 with 20 points and 13 rebounds for his 3rd straight double-double in the Finals. More importantly, it was the 3rd straight game Bosh outplayed Tim Duncan. Bosh increased the HEAT’s chance of winning 24% more than Duncan in Game 4, 5% more in Game 3 and 44% more in Game 2. Fuck the real estate rumors and trade talk. He’s welcome to stay in Miami as long as he wants to.

LeBron James fulfilled his promise and played much better in Game 4 than he did in Game 3. His jumper returned and he shot 8-12 outside the paint on his way to 33 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. So much for the Kawhi Leonard LeBron Stopper Theory. LeBron was back in MVP form with production that increased the HEAT’s chance of winning by 25% - right around his season average.

Tony Parker played a dominant 1st half on a strained hamstring, but he was dead man dribbling in the 2nd half. Parker increased the Spurs’ chance of winning by 15% in the 1st half with 15 points, 58% shooting and 6 assists, but he decreased it by 4% in the 2nd half with 0-4 shooting and just 3 assists.

Least Productive Players
Norris Cole's 0-4 shooting with 2 fouls made him the least productive HEAT player. He decreased the team's chance of winning by 4%. I'd still like to see more of the "no point guard" lineup with Wade running point and defending Tony Parker, but maybe Spo is saving that adjustment for an elimination game.

Charles Barkley doesn’t say many objective things when he’s covering a series that involves the Miami HEAT, but his analysis of Manu Ginobili was on-point last night. He’s been terrible in the Finals and seems to be playing worse as Wade starts to play better. Ginobili’s 5 points on 1-5 shooting with 4 fouls in 26 minutes decreased the Spurs’ chance of winning Game 4 by 15%.

If Parker's hamstring continues to hamper him while Old Man Riverwalk and Ginobili continue to get smashed in their matchups, then there's nothing the Older Gods can do to win this series except pray for HEAT arrogance and complacency to allow Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Gary Neal to steal two more games. I just don't see that happening. If the Older Gods don't return in Game 5, the Miami HEAT could end this series in Game 6 at American Airlines Arena.

The spreadsheet below lists the wins produced estimated from the Game 4 boxscore for all players.

Boxscore and play-by-play stats taken from and Shot location and lineup stats taken from

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