Game 4 By The Numbers
By Brian Martin
Here are the 20 numbers you need to know from San Antonio's 107-86 win in Game 4 of the 2014 NBA Finals.
A hallmark of the Heat's championship reign has been their ability to bounce back from losses. Their 13-game streak of wins following a playoff loss was snapped on Thursday, as was their 48-game streak of playoff games without back-to-back losses. The Heat had not lost back-to-back games in the playoffs since the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, when they dropped three straight to the Boston Celtics before rallying to win the series in seven games.
It wasn't just that the Spurs beat the Heat in back-to-back games, but it was the manner in which they did it that is historically significant. This is the first time in NBA Finals history that a team has won two straight games on the road by 15 or more points in a single Finals, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Spurs also become just the second team (along with the 1960 Celtics) to ever have three 15-point wins in a single NBA Finals.
In fact, the Spurs' average margin of victory in this series is 18.3 points as they have won games by 15, 19 and 21 points. The Heat's only victory in the series was by two points. The Spurs are +53 through the first four games of the series and are now +197 in the playoffs as a whole.
As John Schuhmann highlights in The Finals Stat from Game 4, the Spurs have outscored the Heat in the first quarter by a total of 38 points in the series. The Spurs are grabbing leads early and not looking back.
With their strong first quarters, the Spurs are constantly forcing Miami to play from behind and try to rally past the Spurs. While it worked in Game 2, the Spurs have dominated the past two games. In fact, the Spurs have held the lead in this series for 150 of 192 total minutes played. The Heat have led for just 28 minutes, with the other 14 minutes tied. Thanks to their back-to-back blowouts in Games 3 and 4, the Spurs have led by 16 points or more for more minutes (43) than the Heat have led in the entire series (28).
The Heat have lost the last two games by a combined total of 40 points (Game 3: 19 points; Game 4: 21 points). These are the worst back-to-back losses in the NBA Finals since the 1977 Philadelphia 76ers lost Games 3 and 4 to the Portland Trail Blazers by 22 and 32 points, respectively.
In the history of the NBA Finals, a team has faced a 3-1 deficit 31 times. No team has ever rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals. If the Heat are going to get their three-peat, they will need to make some history in order to do it.
Speaking of history, Tim Duncan entered the record books in two separate categories on Thursday night. With his 10-point and 11-rebound performance, Duncan recorded his 158th playoff double-double, breaking the tie with Magic Johnson for the most all-time. And by logging 31 minutes in Game 4, Duncan passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (8,851) for the most minutes played in NBA playoff history.
The Spurs are shooting 54.2% through the first four games of this series. Per Elias, it is the second-best percentage by a team through the first four games of The Finals in the shot-clock era, trailing only the 1984 Lakers, who shot 54.6%.
If the Spurs can continue this efficient level of shooting for the remainder of this series, they would enter the record books for the highest field goal percentage by a team in The Finals. Currently the record is 52.7%, which was done twice:
Detroit vs. L.A. Lakers, 1989 (4-game series)
Chicago vs. L.A. Lakers, 1991 (5-game series)
The Spurs followed up their incredible shooting efficiency from Game 3 (59.4%), with another outstanding shooting performance, hitting 57.1% of their shots in Game 4. Here is the breakdown:
|In the Paint (Non-RA)||7-10||70%|
|Above Break 3s||4-12||33.3%|
The player that had the worst shooting night for the Spurs was Tim Duncan, who shot 4-of-10 from the field. Every other Spur that attempted a shot, hit at least 50% of their attempts. With the game in hand in the fourth quarter, the Spurs were able to empty their bench and get contributions from literally every player that was on the active roster. All 13 Spurs scored in this game, 12 of which hit at least one field goal.
For the second straight game, Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs in scoring with 20 points on Thursday. After Leonard struggled through the first two games, Coach Popovich implored him to be more aggressive and Leonard responded with arguably the two best games of his Spurs career.
Leonard was a star on both ends of the floor on Thursday, scoring 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, grabbing 14 rebounds, blocking three shots, getting three steals and dishing three assists with only one turnover. Leonard now has 11 double-doubles in his young playoff career, five of them have come against Miami in the 2013 and 2014 Finals.
Manu Ginobili played just under 28 minutes in Game 4. When he was on the floor, the Spurs outscored the Heat by 27 points, the highest plus/minus of any player on Thursday. Similar to Boris Diaw in Game 3, who led all players with a plus-20 plus/minus, Ginobili's stat line is not overly impressive. He scored seven points on 2-of-4 shooting, including 1-of-2 from three, hit 2-of-3 from the free throw line, to go along with one rebound, two assists and committed four turnovers and three fouls. But when he was on the court, the Spurs were at their best. Ginobili posted a team-best 138.2 offensive rating and a team-best 76.7 defensive rating in Game 4, meaning the Spurs outscored the Heat by 61.5 points per 100 possessions with Ginobili on the floor.
LeBron James scored a game-high 28 points on Thursday, but got little help from his teammates in the Heat's Game 4 loss. James shot 10-of-17 (58.8%) from the field. The other four members of the starting lineup combined to score 28 points but shot just 11-of-34 (32.4%).
James had nine points in the first half as the Heat trailed by 19 (55-36) at the break. He came out in the third quarter and carried the Heat, scoring 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting (2-of-3 from three). His teammates combined to score two points (a rare bucket by Mario Chalmers) on 1-of-9 shooting. Meanwhile, the Spurs put together a 26-point quarter to extend their lead by five points heading into the fourth. At the end of the third quarter, James had 28 points, his teammates had 29 and the Spurs led by 24 (81-57).
While James scored 28 points, the other two members of the Big Three -- Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- combined to score just 22 points on 8-of-24 shooting. Wade struggled mightily in Game 4, scoring just 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-10 in the paint and 0-of-5 in the restricted area. Wade also struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 4-of-8 attempts on the night. As for Bosh, he shot 5-of-11 from the field after taking just four shots in Miami's loss in Game 3.
The Spurs outscored the Heat 46-30 in the paint in Game 4. Through the first four games of this series, the team that has won the points in the paint battle has also won the game. Going back to last year's Finals, the team that held the edge in points in the paint has won nine of the 11 games played, with the only exceptions being Games 6 and 7 a year ago.
Points in the Paint (Spurs-Heat), 2014 Finals
Game 1: 48-36 (+12), Spurs win
Game 2: 34-44 (-10), Spurs loss
Game 3: 48-42 (+6), Spurs win
Game 4: 46-30 (+16), Spurs win
"You move it or you die" were the words from Coach Popovich following the Spurs' only loss in the 2014 Finals. Popovich mentioned that the ball got stuck too often during the game, hindering the Spurs' beautiful offense that is full of player and ball movement. After back-to-back blowout wins, it's safe to say the Spurs are alive and well as the ball has constantly been on the move, finding open shooters all over the court.
In Game 4, the Spurs threw a total of 380 passes compared to just 267 for the Heat. The Spurs entered Game 4 averaging 345.3 passes in The Finals and 311.4 for the Playoffs as a whole.
Game 1: 337 passes, Spurs win
Game 2: 337 passes, Spurs loss
Game 3: 362 passes, Spurs win
Game 4: 380 passes, Spurs win
Of course more passes leads to more assist opportunities and the Spurs hold a huge edge in assists in this series. San Antonio led the NBA in the regular season with an average of 25.2 assists per game. Through the first four games of this series, they are right at that pace (25.5 assists per game). Meanwhile, the Heat ranked 11th in assists at 22.5 per game during the regular season and are down to 15.5 in The Finals. The Spurs have yet to have a game in this series with fewer than 21 assists, while the Heat have yet to have more than 17.
In Game 4, the Spurs tallied 25 assists and 14 secondary assists, which is a testament to their ball movement. The secondary assist is often referred to as a hockey assist and is essentially the pass that leads to assist, or the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the basket. The Spurs get secondary assists by swinging the ball on the perimeter to open 3-point shooters and especially around the rim, where their bigs execute quick passes for open layups and dunks.
Patty Mills passes to Danny Green on the wing; as two Heat defenders converge on him, Green passes it down to Tiago Splitter just outside of the paint; Splitter executes a perfect touch pass to Boris Diaw who is cutting toward the rim; Diaw makes the catch and rises for the dunk over Dwyane Wade. Green, Splitter and Diaw all touch the ball within a two-second span.
Diaw gets the bucket, Splitter gets the assist and Green gets the secondary assist. It was Green's pass to Splitter that started this scoring play and with the secondary assist he gets credit for it.
Game 4 featured just one tie (not counting 0-0) and one lead change -- both of which happened in the opening minutes as San Antonio nearly led wire-to-wire. The Heat scored the first two points of the game, a Chris Bosh layup at the 11:04 mark of the first quarter. Tim Duncan tied the game with a layup of his own with 9:56 play and the Spurs never trailed again. After Duncan tied the game, the Spurs got a jumper from Tony Parker to give us our one lead change of the night. It was part of a 13-2 run that the Spurs went on after Bosh's opening bucket.
The San Antonio Spurs have held a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series 10 times in the Gregg Popovich era. They have gone on to win the series all 10 times.