A Final(s) Look Back
As we prepare for the rematch between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, we take one more look back at their epic 2013 championship series. Here are 10 numbers you need to remember.
PPG, LeBron James
In the first three games of the Finals, San Antonio's strategy to pack the paint and force LeBron James to shoot from the perimeter was working beautifully. James averaged just 16.7 points on 38.9% shooting (23.1% from three) as the Spurs built a 2-1 series lead.
In those three games, James still shot 80% in the restricted area, but only got there a total of 15 times, compared to his nine paint shots outside the restricted area, his 17 mid-range shots and 12 3-point attempts. That is the shot distribution the Spurs wanted and with LeBron struggling to knock down outside shots, the strategy was working as planned.
Then Game 4 happened. And LeBron found his jumper. He went 15-of-25 for the game, hitting 8-of-12 (66.7%) shots from outside the paint and 7-of-13 (53.8%) from inside the paint. The result was a 33-point night for LeBron, the first of three 30-point games to come over the four contests (Games 4, 6, and 7).
|LeBron James, Games 1-3
||LeBron James, Game 4
In the final four games of the series, James averaged 31.8 points on 47.9 percent shooting (42.9 percent from three), along with 9.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists.
Heat Losing Streak
Here is how the NBA Finals played out for the Miami Heat: L, W, L, W, L, W, W.
One thing you do not see are back-to-back L's on that list. The Heat went on a remarkable run in 2013, which included a 27-game win streak and no back-to-back losses since Jan. 8 and 10 (games 33 and 34 of the 82-game regular season). In their last 47 regular season games and 23 playoff games, they never suffered back-to-back losses.
The streak carried over to the 2013-14 regular season, but didn't last long as the Heat lost back-to-back games in just their second and third contests of the season.
3FGM, Danny Green
Danny Green hit an NBA Finals record 27 3-pointers during the NBA Finals. He shot 27-of-49 for the series -- a scorching 55.1 percent. Green did nearly all of his damage from long range as he shot just 5-of-23 (21.7%) on 2-point shots in the series.
Green actually broke the Finals record for 3-pointers made (the old mark of 22 was held by Ray Allen while he was with the Boston Celtics in 2008) in Game 5, which is key to remember. Through the first five games of the series, Green shot a ridiculous 65.8 percent (25-of-38) from 3-point range.
But as hot as Green was through the first five games of the series, he cooled down dramatically in San Antonio's two potential series-clinching games -- shooting just 2-of-11 (18.2%) from three and 2-of-19 (10.5%) overall in Games 6 and 7.
|Danny Green, Games 1-5
||Danny Green, Games 6-7
3FGM, Ray Allen
Ray Allen hit 12 3-pointers in the 2013 NBA Finals, including the game-tying, overtime-forcing, season-saving, get-those-yellow-ropes-outta-here corner 3 with five seconds remaining in Game 6.
Allen was one of five Heat players to hit at least 11 3-pointers in the 2013 Finals with Mike Miller pacing the group at 61.1%, Allen a close second at 54.5% and LeBron James as the only player under 40% at 35.3%. As a team, the Heat shot 43.2% from beyond the arc -- well above their season average of 39.6%.
The Spurs shot 40.7% as a team and had two players leading the way -- Green at 55.1% (27-of-49) and Gary Neal at 46.7% (14-of-30). It should be noted, that like Mike Miller being out of Miami, Gary Neal is no longer with San Antonio.
Plus/Minus per game, Dwyane Wade
If you were to only look at his series averages, it appears that Dwyane Wade was a solid contributor throughout the 2013 Finals. He averaged 19.6 points on 47.6 percent shooting from the field and 77.3 percent from the line, 4.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists with only 2.3 turnovers, 1.9 steals and 1.3 blocks. However, when you look at his plus/minus for the series, he averaged a negative-7.7.
Hat tip to the great John Schuhmann for this stat from his massive Finals Numbers Preview: The Spurs outscored the Heat by 54 points in Wade's 254 minutes on the floor. The Heat outscored the Spurs by 49 in Wade's 86 minutes on the bench.
Wade injured knees hampered him throughout the season and the playoffs, and led to the Heat using a maintenance program with Wade for the 2013-14 season. Wade missed a total of 28 games during the regular season, with the goal to keep him fresh and injury free come playoff time. The strategy appears to be working as planned as Wade has performed well in the 2014 playoffs thus far -- 18.7 points, 51.9 FG%, 79.7 FT%, 3.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists against 2.4 turnovers, 1.5 steals, 0.3 blocks and a plus/minus of plus-3.7 per game (plus-56 in 520 total minutes).
TOV, Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili will make spectacular plays, gorgeous Euro Steps, remarkable passes and ... head-scratching turnovers. Looking at his 2012-13 stats, Ginobili had 3.4 turnovers per 36 minutes, tied for the sixth-most in the league among players that played at least 50 games and 20 minutes a game. This season, his 3.2 per 36 minutes tied for 16th using the same parameters.
But turnovers against the Miami Heat are particularly dangerous. The Heat are fueled by transition opportunities and Ginobili was a primary provider for points off turnovers. In Miami's four wins, they outscored the Spurs on Points Off Turnovers 18.5 to 10.8 and on Fast Break Points 9.3 to 7.0.
Ginobili averaged 3.1 turnovers per game against the Heat in the Finals -- 2.0 in San Antonio's three wins and 4.0 in their four losses. In the final two games of the series -- both San Antonio losses -- Ginobili committed eight (Game 6) and four (Game 7) turnovers.
NetRtg, Mike Miller
While most of the players from last year's Finals matchup are back for this year's rematch, there is a notable omission from the Miami Heat -- Mike Miller.
Another Schuhmann hat tip for this stat: The Heat offense scored 119.7 points per 100 possessions in 152 minutes with Mike Miller on the floor and only 95.3 in 189 minutes with Miller on the bench.
Miller averaged just 15 minutes in 59 games during the regular season with Miami and just eight minutes in the Heat's first 10 playoff games leading up to the Finals. But against the Spurs, Miller averaged 21.8 minutes and while he only scored 5.3 points per game, his outstanding perimeter shooting (11-18, 61.1% from three) helped spread the floor and opened things up for LeBron and Co.
The Heat offense was 24.4 points better with Miller on the floor than when he was on the bench in last year's series with San Antonio. Can Rashard Lewis fill that role this year? Can Lewis hit a huge 3-pointer in the fourth quarter of an elimination game with only one shoe on like Miller did in Game 6? Lewis' shot did heat up (no pun intended) in the closing games of the East Finals against Indiana, but all shots were taken with both shoes on.
Offensive Rebounds, Heat, Game 6
The Spurs held the rebounding edge throughout the Finals on both ends of the floor. For the series, the Heat averaged just under 10 offensive rebounds per game (9.9). However, in the final 28 seconds of Game 6, the Heat grabbed two consecutive offensive rebounds that led to 3-pointers -- the first, a LeBron James three (after a Mike Miller offensive rebound) with 20 seconds left to pull the Heat within two points; the second, the famous Ray Allen corner three (after a Chris Bosh offensive rebound) with five seconds left that tied the game and sent it to overtime.
The Heat finished Game 6 with 12 offensive rebounds -- two above their series average. If the Spurs track down just one of those rebounds, they would almost certainly be the 2013 NBA champions.
Raw Plus/Minus, Full Series
While the Heat won the series four games to three, the Spurs outscored the Heat by five points over the duration of the series -- 684 to 679.
|1||San Antonio Spurs 92, Miami Heat 88||4 (SAN)|
|2||San Antonio Spurs 84, Miami Heat 103||19 (MIA)|
|3||Miami Heat 77, San Antonio Spurs 113||36 (SAN)|
|4||Miami Heat 109, San Antonio Spurs 93||16 (MIA)|
|5||Miami Heat 104, San Antonio Spurs 114||10 (SAN)|
|6||San Antonio Spurs 100, Miami Heat 103 (OT)||3 (MIA)|
|7||San Antonio Spurs 88, Miami Heat 95||7 (MIA)|
While the series was close in the score totals, the game-by-game win margins were rather large, in particular, the Spurs' 36-point win in Game 3. Aside from Game 1 (a four-point win by San Antonio), the final two games of the series were the closest and Miami won both -- a three-point overtime win in Game 6 and a seven-point win in Game 7.
One final hat tip to Schuhmann for this nugget on Tim Duncan, who was 0-of-6 on clutch time shots in the series, including a point-blank hook shot and put-back in the final minute of Game 7 that left the normally stoic Duncan slapping the floor in frustration for the missed opportunity to tie the game.
The 2013 Finals was the last to use the 2-3-2 format in which the higher seeded team plays the first two and last two games at home while the lower seed hosts the middle three games. Beginning with the 2014 Finals, the format will be the traditional 2-2-1-1-1 that is used throughout the other three rounds of the playoffs.
The Heat held home-court advantage in the 2013 Finals and after trading wins through the first five games of the series, the Heat won both Games 6 and 7 at home to clinch the title. They became just the fifth team to do so under the 2-3-2 format -- joining Syracuse over Fort Wayne in 1955; the Lakers over Detroit in 1988; Houston over New York in 1994; and the Lakers over Boston in 2010.
The Spurs have home court advantage in this year's Finals and will host Games 1, 2, 5*, and 7* (*if necessary).