Saturday, May 24, 2014

HEAT Produced: 2014 Eastern Conference Finals Comes to Miami




The HEAT stole a game in Indiana without playing their best, but at home they will need LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh to get back to being themselves to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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.

Most Productive HEAT Players in Games 1 & 2
LeBron James, Birdzilla and Dwyane Wade are the most productive HEAT players in the Eastern Conference Finals after 2 games. The good news for HEAT fans is that the 2 hall-of-famers still have plenty room for improvement.

LeBron was twice as productive as an average forward in the series, but he's doing it mostly with defense. His defensive rebounding, steals and blocks are way above average without picking up cheap fouls. On offense, LeBron's shooting efficiency and assists are average, but his turnovers, offensive rebounding, scoring and free throw shooting (in terms of volume AND accuracy) are below average. LeBron should get to the line more in the AAA than he did in Indiana, so the free throws and scoring should pick up as long as he knocks them down.

Birdzilla was the most productive HEAT player in Indiana on a per-minute basis (nearly three times more productive than the average big man), but he only played 47 minutes. Zilla's minutes will always be limited, but there's an argument to be made for putting him in the starting lineup. If Erik Spoelstra could come up with a rotation that kept either Bird or Bosh on the floor with Udonis Haslem at all times but still allowed them to start and close the game out together, then it would completely change the series.

Wade increased the HEAT's chance of winning 13% each game in Indiana, but he's got the opposite problem of LeBron - all of his production is on offense with almost nothing getting done on the defensive end. Wade's offense is above average in scoring, shooting efficiency and offensive rebounding, but his defense is below average in EVERY category of the boxscore - defensive rebounds, steals, blocks and fouls. The HEAT will need Wade to be a 2-way player to win this series.

Least Productive HEAT Players in Games 1 & 2
Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh were the least productive players in Indiana. 'Rio decreased the HEAT's chance of winning by 7.5% per game with production that was below average in every category of the boxscore except blocks and assists. Bosh decreased the team's chance of winning by 6% per game with production that was below average in every category of the boxscore except shooting volume, defensive rebounds, steals, turnovers and assists.

The HEA's production is below average in every quarter of the Eastern Conference Finals except the fourth quarter. It's no coincidence the 4th quarter is when Chalmers and Bosh played the fewest minutes.

The HEAT can beat the Pacers without Bosh being productive, but they need to outplay the Pacers' backcourt and they can't expect to do that over a series relying on Norris Cole to pickup the slack while Chalmers struggles.

After 2 games, the Pacers backcourt increased their chance of winning 39% each game while the HEAT backcourt increased their chance of winning by 1% each game. Chalmers, Wade and Allen need to outplay the Pacers backcourt to protect homecourt in Miami.

Most Productive Pacers in Games 1 & 2
Lance Stephenson, Roy Hibbert and George Hill are the most productive Pacers in the series after 2 games. These 3 were also the most productive Pacers in last year's ECF, but the level of their production has changed.

Hibbert increased the Pacers' chance of winning by 20% every 48 minutes in the 2013 ECF and he's doing the same thing in this year's series, but Stephenson and Hill improved from increasing the Pacers' chance of winning from 20% every 48 minutes last year to 41% every 48 minutes this year. The HEAT defense will have to limit the Pacers backcourt to win this series. Stephenson and Hill are each shooting 20% more efficiently than they did in the 2013 ECF and are committing nearly half as many turnovers, thanks to Hill's ballhandling.

Least Productive Pacers in Games 1 & 2
Luis Scola and Paul George are the 2 least productive Pacers in the series so far.  George played terrible before getting a concussion in Game 2, but was productive in Game 1 against LeBron. Scola was unproductive in both games. The key takeaway is the Pacers only have 1 hole in their starting lineup's production right now while the HEAT have two big potholes. That will have to change moving forward.

The spreadsheet below lists he estimated wins produced in the Eastern Conference Finals.




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