Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 NBA Finals: Spurs Hyperdrive Was Too Weak To Leap With the HEAT in Game 2. Will They Keep Up in Game 3?



Miami HEAT went on a run that took Game 2 into rare air and the Spurs couldn't breathe. Will the Spurs take a deep breath in Game 3?

The HEAT let the Pacers know the Eastern Conference Finals were over in Game 3 when they took them to a place where most NBA teams can't go and blew them out. They took San Antonio to that place in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Danny Green put the Spurs up 62-61 with 3:50 left in the 3rd quarter. The HEAT outscored the Spurs 33-5 over the next 8:37 to put the game way. Mainstream media pundits will call it a "run" but it was more like a jump to lightspeed in Star Wars, a flash of brilliance that took the HEAT to another level and left the Spurs wondering what happened.



We can analyze what happened using a boxscore from NBA Stats for that 8-minutes and 37-seconds stretch and estimate the wins produced by HEAT players when they took the game to another level.

Estimated Wins Produced is a 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 Jump to Lightspeed
Six HEAT players increased the team's chance of winning Game 2 of the NBA Finals by 75% in 8-and-a-half minutes. That's a jump to lightspeed from losing to dominating in less than a quarter.

Est. wins produced by HEAT jump to lightspeed:
  • LeBron James: Increased HEAT chance of winning by 27% with 11 points, 5-5 shooting, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal, 1 block and 0 fouls in 8:05
  • Mario Chalmers: Increased HEAT chance of winning by 19% with 8 points, 3-4 shooting, 2-2 from the FT line, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 steal and 0 fouls in 8:05
  • Mike Miller: Increased HEAT chance of winning by 15% with 6 points on 2-2 shooting from the 3-point line, 1 assist, 0 turnovers, 1 steal and 1 foul in 7:35
  • Ray Allen: Increased HEAT chance of winning by 10% with 6 points on 2-2 shooting from the 3-point line in 7:58
  • Chris Bosh: Increased HEAT chance of winning by 3% with 1 rebound and 1 assist in 1:26
  • Chris Andersen: Increased HEAT chance of winning by 1% with 2 points from 2-2 FT shooting, 2 rebounds, 1 steal and 4 fouls in 6:39

Now that the we know what happened, there are only 2 questions remaining for this series:
  1. How often can the HEAT jump to lightspeed against the Spurs? Is it 3 times in 3 games or will it be 3 times in 4 or 5 games? They could only do it every other game against the Pacers.
  2. Can the Spurs keep up with the HEAT when they take the game to another level? 

The Spurs shot 42% in Game 1 and 41% in Game 2. If they shoot in the low 40s in Game 3, then the "getting the shots we want, just not making them" excuse isn't going to fly. The trio of older gods on the Spurs were on the floor for 64% of the HEAT's jump to lightspeed, but head coach Gregg Popovich tapped out when the lead hit 24 points with 7:43 left in the game and they never saw the floor again. Popobitch was happy with the split and forfeit. What will he do if the HEAT make another run with the series tied? What will the Spurs do if they trail in the series?

The jump to lightspeed only covered 8.6 minutes of the game. Let's take a look at the whole 48 minutes for some answers to those questions.

Most Productive Players in Game 2
Chris Bosh was the most productive player in Game 2 with 12 points, 60% shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 turnovers, 3 steals, 1 block and only 1 foul in 31.2 minutes that increased the HEAT's chance of winning by 33%. There were no dirty looks from LeBron for that kind of performance, but there could be plenty of dirty looks from Popobitch if Bosh continues to post double-doubles shooting 60% while Duncan only shoots 23%.

Chalmers also increased the HEAT's chance of winning by 33% with 19 points, 58% shooting efficiency, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 steal and 1 foul in 35.4 minutes. Rio singlehandedly won the starting backcourt battle for the HEAT after losing it in Game 1. Rio won the backcourt battle on offense by exploiting the pick-and-rolls he had some success struggled with in Game 1.

The HEAT starting backcourt increased their team's chance of winning by 19% while the Spurs starting backcourt only increased their team's chance of winning by 11%. The biggest reason for the change was Chalmers and the HEAT defense limited Tony Parker to just 13 points, 36% shooting efficiency and 5 turnovers that decreased the Spurs chance of winning by 11%. The Finals preview predicted Parker would be in trouble this series. That trouble was displayed in Game 2 without LeBron guarding him in the 4th quarter.

Chalmers' performance and Parker's poor production were enough to win the matchup of starting backcourts despite Danny Green being the most productive Spurs player. Green increased the Spurs' chance of winning 22% with 17 points on 6-6 shooting (5-5 from 3).

Least Productive Players in Game 2
While Green carried Parker in the Spurs' starting backcourt, Chalmers carried Dwyane Wade in the HEAT's starting backcourt. Wade decreased the team's chance of winning 15% by scoring only 10 points on 13 shots with 2 turnovers and 1 foul. 

Wade and Manu Ginobili are in a race to the bottom after 2 games. Ginobili was the least productive Spurs player with just 5 points on 33% shooting efficiency, 3 turnovers and 3 fouls in 17.9 minutes that decreased the team's chance of winning 11%.



The HEAT won't be able to reach their true "A" game in the Finals with Wade injured, but they can still jump to lightspeed when LeBron, Bosh, Chalmers and the shooters take them there. Can the Spurs do the same while carrying Ginobili?

3 Kings vs. The Older Gods
Bosh, LeBron and Wade combined to increase the HEAT's chance of winning Game 2 by 36%. Parker, Duncan and Ginobili combined to decrease the Spurs' chance of winning by 34%. Green and Kawhi Leonard's production is cute, but the Spurs aren't jumping to lightspeed with the older gods holding them back.

The better team usually asserts itself in Game 3 of a 1-1 series, which is why the winner of Game 3 has won 92% of those series. The 3 Kings have the better team so they should be motivated in Game 3 to make a jump to lightspeed. Let's see if the older gods can keep up.

The spreadsheet below lists the wins produced estimated for all players from the boxscore for Game 2 of the NBA Finals.



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

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