Friday, June 7, 2013

Loose Balls Had a Big Impact on Game 1 of the NBA Finals

San Antonio Spurs took advantage of loose balls to win Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The statistical recap posted after Game 1 at 2:43 AM reported the HEAT lost a game they had a 55% chance of winning. That stat was based on the estimated wins produced formula developed by sports economist David Berri (see the HEAT Produced Page for more information).

A key difference between estimated wins produced and Berri's formula for wins produced from the book Wages of Wins is that estimated wins produced doesn't include team turnovers and team rebounds because it's based solely on individual player stats.

Once team turnovers and team rebounds were factored into the player stats from the Game 1 boxscore, the HEAT's chance of winning decreased from 55% to 49% because they had 2 less team rebounds on offense and 1 more team turnover from a shot clock violation in the 4th quarter.

Why were team rebounds so important in Game 1? Because the Spurs had 21 second chance points but only grabbed 6 offensive rebounds - which is impossible unless team rebounds are included in the equation. According to the NBA Stats blog, the Spurs scored 14 second-chance points from offensive rebounds and 7 second-chance points from team rebounds.

What the fuck is a team rebound? Essentially, it's a loose ball.

Here are two examples of offensive team rebounds from the NBA Stats blog:
  • a blocked shot that goes out of bounds without any other player touching the ball after the block
  • a missed shot that is deflected out of bounds by a defensive player trying, but failing, to secure a rebound

Coach Erik Spoelstra commented that the Spurs 21 second-chance points in Game 1 must have been "some kind of record" and it wouldn't have been possible without those loose balls that went their way.

The spreadsheet below lists the wins produced stats estimated for both teams in Game 1 updated with team rebounds and team turnovers (highlighted in yellow).

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