NBA Stats

Jun 4 2013 2:00AM

NBA.com/Stats Number Crunch

Throughout the playoffs, NBA.com/Stats is constantly crunching numbers to dig deep into each series to provide insights into what we're watching on the court.



Game 7 By The Numbers

June 3, 2013 -- 11:00PM

By Brian Martin

The Miami Heat are headed to their third straight NBA Finals after defeating the Indiana Pacers, 99-76, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night in South Florida. Led by LeBron James (32 points, 8 rebounds) and a resurgent performance from Dwyane Wade (21 points, game-high 9 rebounds), the Heat dominated the Pacers and move on to face the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

Prior to Game 7, we mentioned three winning indicators to watch for and the Heat swept all three -- winning the third quarter (24-18), winning the points in the paint (30-30 for the game, but 28-16 in the first three quarters before shifting into cruise control) and for the first time in the series, winning the rebounding battle (43-36).

Here are 15 numbers that stood out from Monday's Game 7.


2
For the second straight year, the Miami Heat are moving on to the NBA Finals after winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals (vs. Boston, 2012). The Pacers were also attempting to beat the Heat for the second straight game on Monday. The Heat have not lost consecutive games since January 8-10.

3
The Heat are moving on to their third straight NBA Finals and will attempt to defend their title against the San Antonio Spurs. Miami is the first Eastern Conference team to make three straight NBA Finals since the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls from 1996-98.

4
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem are all making their fourth appearance in the Finals, which equals Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili from San Antonio. Tim Duncan leads the way with his fifth Finals appearance. He has yet to lose in the Finals.

7
Paul George was the breakout star of the playoffs, but had a Game 7 performance that will haunt him this offseason. He finished with 7 points (while missing 7 of his 9 field goal attempts), 7 rebounds and 6 fouls in just under 34 minutes on the floor. George finished the series averaging 19.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists and has a very bright future ahead of him.

10
Ray Allen scored 10 points in Game 7, all in the first half, which bested his output in five of the first six games of the series. He finished the half 3-for-3 on 3-point attempts after hitting just 7-of-24 attempts in the series prior to Game 7. Dwyane Wade scored 10 of his 21 points from inside the restricted area (5-of-7 in Game 7). He had averaged just 5 points from there through the first six games of the series (15-of-26 in Games 1-6). Wade also got to the free throw line 7 times and made all of his attempts. He had averaged just 4.5 free throw attempts prior to Game 7.

21
The Pacers committed 21 turnovers in Game 7, including 9 in the opening quarter 15 in the first half. The Heat scored 15 points off of the Pacers' miscues. The Heat had only 12 turnovers, which led to 11 Pacers points.

21 & 9
Dwyane Wade finished Game 7 with 21 points and 9 rebounds, which was more than he had in his last two games combined (20 points, 8 rebounds). Wade picked the perfect time to have his first 20+ point game since April 23.

22.3
After four losses this postseason, three to the Pacers, the Heat have followed it up by winning the following game by an average of 22.3 points. Monday's 23-point win in Game 7 was Miami's standard response. From the Elias Sports Bureau, Miami's 23-point win is the second-largest win in Division/Conference Finals since 1958.

24-18
The Heat held a comfortable 15-point lead at the half (52-37) and did not come out of the locker room complacent. The team that won the third quarter had won five of the first six games in the series, and the Heat made it six of seven as they won the quarter 24-18 to take a 21-point lead into the fourth quarter and cruised the rest of the way to the Eastern Conference title.

29.0
LeBron James averaged 29.0 points in the East Finals, more than any other player in the series. LeBron was followed by a trio of Pacers -- Roy Hibbert (22.1), Paul George (19.4) and David West (16.6). LeBron's average was more than Dwyane Wade (15.4) and Chris Bosh (11.0) combined.

30
Both teams scored 30 points in the paint in Game 7. The team with the edge in points in the paint had gone 5-0 in this series leading up to Game 7. The Pacers won Game 2 when the teams previously tied with 40 points in the paint each. Miami won this tie. However, Miami dominated the paint when the game was on the line, outscoring the Pacers in the paint 20-10 in the first half and 28-16 through the first three quarters of the game. The Pacers held a 14-2 edge in the fourth quarter, when the Heat never led by less than 18 points. A clear win for the Heat.

33.8
With a game-high 32 points on Monday, LeBron James is now averaging 33.8 points in Game 7s in his career. That is the highest average among all players with at least two Game 7s played. LeBron's 32 points also moves him within seven points of tying Magic Johnson (3,701) for 11th on the all-time playoff scoring list. Michael Jordan leads the list with 5,987 points in just 179 games (33.4 average).

43-36
The Heat outrebounded the Pacers for the first time in this series, with a 43-36 edge on the boards. A key heading into Game 7 was whether or not the Heat could stay close to the Pacers on the glass. Miami was 3-1 entering Game 7 when staying within 10 rebounds of the Pacers. They didn't just stay close, they destroyed the Pacers at one of their biggest strengths, part of a top to bottom dominant performance.

15-8
The Heat also won the battle of the offensive glass 15-8. The seven-rebound edge on the offensive boards helped Miami score 22 second chance points, compared to just 12 for the Pacers. Dwyane Wade tied his season high with six offensive rebounds for the Heat. Ten of LeBron James' 32 points were second-chance points. Miami shot under 40 percent for the game, but had an additional seven shot attempts thanks to second chance opportunities and Pacers turnovers.

+46 & -74
The Indiana starting five was the most used lineup of the series and the most successful for the Pacers by far. That group finished with a scoring margin of plus-46. All other lineups combined for a minus-74.



The Three Indicators

June 1, 2013 -- 11:50PM

By Brian Martin

We're less than 48 hours away from the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers tipping off Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to decide which team will face the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

After six games, three clear indicators have emerged to determine which team will end up victorious. When these two teams clash for the final time this season, keep an eye out for which team wins the third quarter, which team score more points in the paint and the rebounding margin.

Third Quarter

GameThird QuarterMarginFinal ScoreMargin
GM 6IND 29, MIA 15IND +14IND 91, MIA 77IND +14
GM 5MIA 30, IND 13MIA +17MIA 90, IND 79MIA +11
GM 4IND 29, MIA 23IND +6IND 99, MIA 92IND +7
GM 3MIA 21, IND 20MIA +1MIA 114, IND 96MIA +18
GM 2MIA 27, IND 23MIA +4IND 97, MIA 93IND +4
GM 1MIA 27, IND 23MIA +4MIA 103, IND 102MIA+1

The team that has won the third quarter, has gone on to win all but one game of this series. The only exception to this rule was Game 2, when the Heat won the quarter by four points, but the Pacers came away with the four-point win.

In the first four games of the series, the third quarter was decided by six points or less, But in the last two games, both the Heat (Game 5, 17 points) and the Pacers (Game 6, 14 points) have traded dominant performances in the third period that proved too great to overcome.

With LeBron James stepping out of a time machine after halftime of Game 5 and emerging in Cleveland-mode, the Heat won the third quarter 30-13, with LeBron personally outscoring the entire Pacers squad 16-13 and posting four rebounds and four assists. Udonis Haslem chipped in 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting in the period.

Miami's third quarter explosion turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 13-point lead heading into the fourth. The Heat would go on to win by 11 to take a 3-2 series lead.

On Saturday night, Paul George and Roy Hibbert flipped the script on Miami and posted a game-changing third quarter of their own. After Miami took a one-point lead into the locker room, the Pacers owned the third quarter, outscoring the Heat 29-15 with George and Hibbert posting nine points apiece.

The Pacers took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter, held off a Miami rally and finished with a 14-point win to extend their season at least one more game.

A closer look at the series shows that, with the exception of Miami's Game 3 blowout win, the third quarter scoring margin nearly replicates the margin of the final score. In Game 1, the Heat won the third quarter by four and went on to win the game by one.

In Game 6, the Pacers won the third quarter and the game by the exact same margin of 14 points. Indiana nearly did the same in Game 4, winning the third quarter by six and the game by seven.

Points in the Paint

GamePoints in the PaintMarginGame Winner
GM 6IND 44, MIA 22IND +22IND
GM 5MIA 34, IND 32MIA +2MIA
GM 4IND 50, MIA 32IND +18IND
GM 3MIA 52, IND 36MIA +16MIA
GM 2IND 40, MIA 40EvenIND
GM 1MIA 60, IND 48MIA +12MIA

Here at NBA.com/Stats, we have documented the importance of points in the paint throughout this series. And it has held true in every game -- the team that scores more points in the paint goes on to win the game.

Miami held the edge early, winning Games 1 and 3 while winning the points in the paint battle by 12 and 16 points, respectively. In the Pacers' Game 2 win, the teams played to a draw in the paint, both scoring 40 points. Miami also won a game that featured a near-tie, edging the Pacers 34-32 in points in the paint in their Game 5 win.

But it has been the last two wins by the Pacers -- in Game 4 (+18) and Game 6 (+22) -- that have featured the most dominant victories in the paint in this series.

Rebounding

GameTotal ReboundsMarginGame Winner
GM 6IND 53, MIA 33IND +20IND
GM 5IND 33, MIA 32IND +1MIA*
GM 4IND 49, MIA 30IND +19IND
GM 3IND 45, MIA 36IND +9MIA*
GM 2IND 39, MIA 32IND +7IND*
GM 1IND 43, MIA 38IND +5MIA*
*Rebounding margin less than 10

The third quarter and points in the paint indicators are easy to see, whichever team wins that category goes on to win the game.

Rebounding is not that simple, since Indiana has won the rebounding battle in each game of the series and has only won half of the games. But that is to be expected. Miami was one of the worst rebounding teams in the league (league-worst 38.6 rebounds per game, 21st ranked 49.0% rebound rate) during the regular season, while the Pacers were the best (league-best 45.9 rebounds per game, league-best 52.9% rebound rate). Miami does not have a match for the size and strength of Indiana's frontline and the result has been an edge in the rebounding battle for the Pacers.

So when looking for our indicator, we're not looking for Miami to outrebound Indiana, we're merely looking for Miami to stay within striking distance of Indiana on the boards. It's safe to assume that if the Heat do not get blown out on the glass, their chances of winning dramatically increase. And the numbers reflect this.

Miami is 3-1 in this series when keeping the rebounding margin within 10 total rebounds. However, in Indiana's last two wins (Games 4 and 6), the Pacers have rebounded the Heat by 19 and 20 total rebounds, respectively.



The Numbers on Game 5

May 31, 2013 -- 2:00 AM

By Brian Martin

Thanks in large part to a performance by LeBron James that had many people thinking back to his days in Cleveland -- including LeBron -- the Miami Heat pulled away from the Indiana Pacers in the third quarter and went on to secure a 90-79 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to move within one win of a return trip to the NBA Finals, where the San Antonio Spurs await.

Here are 10 numbers that stood out from Thursday's pivotal Game 5.


16-13
LeBron James single-handedly outscored the Indiana Pacers 16-13 in the decisive third quarter. The Heat won the quarter 30-13. The Pacers won the other three quarters 66-60, but could not overcome the dominant third quarter by James and the Heat. James also posted more assists (4) on his own than the Pacers (1) in the third quarter. The Pacers also had more turnovers (5) than made baskets (3) in the quarter.

29
Roy Hibbert (14) and Paul George (15) scored the Pacers' first 29 points of the game, including all 23 of their first quarter points. Hibbert and George combined to shoot 9-of-14 in the first quarter, while the other Pacers went 0-of-4. The first player other than Hibbert of George to score for the Pacers was Tyler Hansbrough, who hit a free throw with 9:02 remaining in the second quarter.

26
LeBron James' Game 5 performance was reminiscent of his days as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers as he dominated the offense for the Heat. Part of that dominance was putting up 26 shot attempts, the most by James in this postseason. The last time he had 26 shot attempts in the playoffs was Game 6 of the last year's Eastern Conference Finals, when he had one of the single greatest playoff performances (45 points, 19-26 FG, 15 rebounds, 5 assists) ever to keep Miami's season alive and force a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics.

3
LeBron James had his third 30+ point performance of this series and fourth of the playoffs. The Heat are 3-1 when LeBron scores 30 or more with the only loss coming to the Pacers in Game 2 when LeBron posted 36 points.

5
Combined points for Indiana's starting backcourt of George Hill (1 point, 4 fouls) and Lance Stephenson (4 points, 6 fouls). The duo had twice as many fouls as points in Game 5.

8-9
In a carbon-copy of his Game 3 performance, Miami's Udonis Haslem hit 8 of his 9 shot attempts in Game 5, including a perfect 5-for-5 in the third quarter. Haslem finished with 16 points, with four of his makes coming at the rim and the other four from his favorite spot on the floor -- the left baseline jumper, where he hit 4-of-5 on the night.

6
The number of offensive rebounds for both teams. This has been a category dominated by the bigger Indiana Pacers squad in this series, so playing to a near draw on the boards (6-6 on the offensive glass, 33-32 Indiana overall) is a win for the Heat.

34
Another key to this series has been points in the paint. The team that has led the points in the paint battle has won each game, with the Pacers winning the only game that featured a tie (Game 2). The Heat narrowly edged the Pacers, 34-32 on points in the paint on Thursday.

13
Outside of their front court of Roy Hibbert (22), David West (17) and Paul George (27), the other Pacers scored just 13 points in Game 5. The frontline shot a combined 26-of-49 (53.1%), while the other Pacers went 5-of-20 (25.0%).

15-8
The Heat held a 15-8 edge in bench points, led by Ray Allen's seven points. The Heat's reserves combined to shoot 6-of-13 (46.2%) compared to 3-of-9 (33.3%) for the Pacers. Heat reserve Chris Andersen kept his streak alive as he has yet to miss a shot in this series in 15 attempts. Game 5 featured his first shot from outside the restricted area in the series, as he hit a 14-foot jumper during the fourth quarter. Other the other hand, Shane Battier continued to struggle with his shot, missing both of his attempts (both 3-pointers). He is shooting just 12.5% from the field and 13.3% from three in the series.



Dwyane Wade's Impact

May 30, 2013 -- 3:00 PM

By Brian Martin

When Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have struggled in this series, the Miami Heat have lost. A look at their numbers shows not only a drop off in points per game, but over a 20 percent drop in their field goal percentage in Miami's two losses, compared to their two wins.

Dwyane Wade -- Wins vs. Losses -- East Finals

WadePTSFG%
Wins18.558.6%
Losses15.037.9%

Chris Bosh -- Wins vs. Losses -- East Finals

BoshPTSFG%
Wins16.057.1%
Losses12.035.0%

LeBron James on the hand has actually posted stronger numbers in Miami's losses than he has in Miami's wins. However, the discrepancy between his performance in wins and losses is far less than that of Wade and Bosh.

LeBron -- Wins vs. Losses -- East Finals

JamesPTSFG%
Wins26.048.8%
Losses30.057.9%

NBA.com's Steve Aschburner looks closer at Chris Bosh's performance and what Miami needs from him. So let's concentrate here on Wade.

First, let's get this out of the way. Wade is hurt. He may not speculate to the severity of the injury, but he is definitely not the same player that he was for the entire regular season. His numbers reflect this.

Dwyane Wade -- Season vs. East Finals

Time PeriodFG%STLPTS+/-OffRtgPIEPITP%PTS (2PT-MR)%PTS (PITP)
Regular Season52.1%1.921.28.3112.315.3%11.819.7%55.8%
3rd Round (IND)48.3%1.316.8-2.0109.111.3%9.526.9%56.7%

When we look closer at the Wade's performance in the East Finals, the difference in his play in wins and losses goes far beyond just point production and shooting percentage. The type of shots he is getting has changed as well, with Wade settling for more mid-range jumpers and scoring less points in the paint.

Dwyane Wade -- Wins vs. Losses -- East Finals

W/LFG%STLPTS+/-Off RtgPIEPITP%PTS (2PT-MR)%PTS (PITP)
Wins58.6%2.018.50112.214.4%14.016.2%75.7%
Losses37.9%0.515.0-4106.08.0%5.040.0%33.3%

In Miami's two wins in this series, Wade has scored 75.7 percent of his points in the paint. In the two losses, that percentage drops to 33.3 percent. As we discussed in our five keys to Game 5, Miami has dominated the points in the paint in their two wins in this series. In Game 4, they were limited to 32 points in the paint as a team, with eight coming from Wade. A closer look at his shot chart show that Wade has gone 5-of-13 (38.5%) in the restricted area in Miami's two losses and 13-of-19 (68.4%) during their wins. He's getting more attempts at the rim and converting at a higher rate when Miami wins.

Dwyane Wade, East Finals, Wins

Dwyane Wade, East Finals, Losses

While Wade is playing through this knee injury, the more rest he can get the better. Unfortunately, the schedule only permits one day of rest between each game of the Conference Finals. Since the Heat dispatched of the Bulls early in the second round, the Heat had a full week off before Game 1 of the East Finals. The extra rest served Wade well, as you can see by his numbers below.

Dwyane Wade -- With Days Rest

RestGPFGMFGAFG%REBSTLPTSPIEPITP
1 Day36.314.344.2%4.30.716.010.6%7.3
6+ Days191560.0%631913.8%16

The remainder of the East Finals will have just one day off between games. If the Heat are able to get past the Pacers and advance to the Finals, it would be in Wade's best interest to do so quickly. If this series in ends in six games, the Heat would have four days off before the Finals open on June 6. If it goes to a Game 7, that goes down to two days.



Improved Pacers Offense

May 30, 2013 -- 5:00 PM

The Pacers offensive rating has risen from 101.6 in the regular season, to 111.3 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Indiana's offensive rating would have led the league if posted during the regular season. Going through the numbers there are a few indicators that may point to the reason for this rise.

Shot Distribution (% of all shots taken)

First and foremost, the Pacers shot distribution has moved towards taking higher percentage shots. The guards are penetrating and getting in the lane more frequently, leading to better shots and open looks. Here is a chart showing the difference:

Season SegmentRestricted AreaIn the Paint (non RA)Total In the PaintMid-Range3 Pointer
Regular Season31%17%48%27.8%24.2%
Rounds 1 & 232.6%15.9%48.5%22.7%28.8%
Conference Finals34.6%21.9%56.9%25%18.5%

Regular Season

Playoffs Rds 1&2

East Conf Finals
Note: Click Images for Larger Version

Shot Distribution (field goal percentage)

The main thing to see here is the increase of shots in the paint, and decrease in three pointers and mid-range jumpers (for the regular season). Not only are they taking higher percentage shots, but they also are shooting the shots In the Paint (Non-Restricted) at a much higher clip -- 38.5% in the regular season, up to 45.3% in the Conference Finals.

Season SegmentRestricted AreaIn the Paint (non RA)Total In the PaintMid-Range3 Pointer
Regular Season59%38.5%51.8%37.4%34.7%
Rounds 1 & 259.5%41.7%53.7%31.7%31.1%
Conference Finals57.4%45.3%52.7%37%37%

Regular Season

Playoffs Rds 1&2

East Conf Finals
Note: Click Images for Larger Version

Points per attempt on 3s

By drawing defenders into the paint, the Pacers are creating open looks for their three point shooters. They have taken much smarter shots, and shooting a higher percentage from three point land. Even though they are taking less three's per game, they are scoring more points per attempt:

Season Segment3FGM -- 3FGA Per Game3FG%Points Per Attempt
Regular Season6.9 -- 19.734.7%1.05
Rounds 1 & 26.8 -- 22.231.1%0.92
Conference Finals5 -- 13.537%1.11

Four Factors

Finally, the Pacers' Four Factors have drastically improved from both the regular season, and the previous two series. They are getting to the line more (getting the ball down low and drawing fouls) and improved their offensive rebounding (creating more shots in the paint). Their eFG% has also risen:

Season SegmentOffensive RtgeFG%FTA RateTO RatioOREB%
Regular Season101.647.9%.29316.2%30.3%
Rounds 1 & 2100.346.5%.38317.3%31.2%
This Series111.349.3%.48317.2%39.9%



The Man in the Middle

May 28, 2013 -- 10:00 PM

By Brian Martin

The Miami Heat do not have anyone that can match the size of Indiana big man Roy Hibbert. The 7-foot-2, 280-pound center has presented matchup problems for the likes of Chris Bosh (6-11, 235), Udonis Haslem (6-8, 235) and Chris Andersen (6-10, 228), the Heat's primary interior players.

Hibbert posted 23 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday's Game 4, which Indiana won 99-92 to even the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2 as the series shifts back to Miami for Thursday's pivotal Game 5.

For Hibbert, it was his third straight game, posting 20+ points and 10+ rebounds, a feat he had never done in his five-year NBA career in the regular season or playoffs. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Hibbert and Dirk Nowitzki (2011 NBA Finals) are the only players that have posted three straight 20-10 playoff games against the Heat during the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh era.

Roy Hibbert -- 2013 Playoffs

RoundOpponentGMPTSOREBREBBLKFG%FT%DD
1Atlanta614.73.88.81.847.8%82.8%1
2New York613.35.310.33.246.8%78.6%2
3Miami422.86.512.01.054.1%78.6%3

Hibbert averaged 14.7 points and 8.8 rebounds as the Pacers defeated the Atlanta Hawks in six games in the opening round of the playoffs. He followed that up by averaging a double-double (13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds) in the Conference Semifinals against the New York Knicks.

But it has been the East Finals vs. Miami that has brought out the best of the Georgetown alum. He is averaging 22.8 points and 12.0 rebounds in the first four games of the series. He has posted three double-doubles -- matching his total from the first two rounds -- and is shooting 54.1 percent from the field.

There is a strong correlation between the Pacers' success in the postseason and strong performances by Hibbert. A look at his statistics in Pacers wins and losses during the 2013 Playoffs shows that his rebounding has been consistent, but his scoring and shooting from the field and free throw line have been far greater in Pacers wins. He also has double-doubles in half of Indiana's 10 postseason wins.

Roy Hibbert -- 2013 Playoffs

Win/LossGamesPTSREBFG%FT%DD
Pacers Wins1018.310.252.0%83.6%5DD
Pacers Losses612.710.244.4%74.1%1DD


  • When Hibbert scores 21+ points, Pacers are 4-0
  • When Hibbert scores 15+ points, Pacers are 8-2
  • When Hibbert shoots 55%+ FG, Pacers are 4-0
  • When Hibbert has 10+ rebounds, Pacers are 6-2
  • When Hibbert has 3+ blocks, Pacers are 4-1

This is the second straight year the Pacers and Heat have met in the postseason, and the second time the series has been tied at two games apiece after Game 4. One thing that hasn't been the same from last year to this year is the play of Hibbert.

Roy Hibbert vs Miami -- Playoffs -- Per-Game Stats

YearGMMINFGM-AFG%FTM-AFT%PTSOREBDREBREBBLKDD
2012632.44.8-10.247.52.5-3.768.2%12.33.87.711.52.52
2013439.48.3-15.354.1%6.3-7.880.6%22.86.55.512.01.03

Last year, Hibbert averaged 12.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and shot 47.5 percent from the field in Indiana's six-game series loss in the Conference Semis. In this year's Conference Finals, Hibbert's numbers are up to 22.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 54.1 percent. He has also been a monster on the offensive glass, averaging 6.5 offensive rebounds in the series (grabbing 21.8 percent of all available offensive rebounds), after averaging 3.8 (and 13.8 percent) a year ago.

Roy Hibbert vs Miami -- Playoffs -- Advanced Stats

YearOffRtgDefRtgNetRtgOREB%DREB%REB%eFG%TS%USG%PIE
2012101.697.14.513.8%27.1%20.5%48.4%52.3%19.2%14.2%
2013112.8110.42.421.8%17.3%19.5%54.1%61.0%25.4%16.6%

Part of Hibbert's greater offensive output has been better shot selection and conversion in the paint and restricted area.

Through four games in this year's series, Hibbert has matched the 61 shot attempts he had last year exactly. He has attempted only eight midrange shots, and only three have come from beyond 15-feet (1-of-3).

Last year he attempted 15 mid-range shots, and a 3-pointer (he made it!), with seven shots coming beyond 15 feet (2-of-7). Instead, Hibbert has taken advantage of his size against the Heat and pounded them in the paint.

Roy Hibbert vs Miami -- Playoffs --Shot Locations

YearRestricted AreaPaint (non-RA)Mid-RangeOverall
201216-25 (64.0%)7-20 (35.0%)5-15 (33.3%)29-61 (47.5%)
201320-29 (69.0%)11-24 (45.8%)2-8 (25.0%)33-61 (54.1%)

Roy Hibbert vs Heat, 2012 Playoffs

Roy Hibbert vs Heat, 2013 Playoffs



Protecting the Paint

May 28, 2013 -- 3:30 PM

By Brian Martin

The Indiana Pacers were the best defensive team in the league this season, allowing just 96.6 points per 100 possessions. They also led the league in allowing the fewest points in the paint (35.5 per game) and fast break points (10.1 per game).

During the first two rounds of the playoffs (against the Hawks and Knicks), their overall defense allowed an additional 1.5 points per 100 possessions (up to 98.3), but their ability to protect the paint (33.5 per game) and stop the fast break (8.1 per game) actually improved.

Then the Miami Heat arrived and changed everything.

During the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers' defensive rating has skyrocketed to 110.8 points per 100 possessions. And while they are still slowing down Miami's fast break (8.3 per game), they are allowing 50.7 points in the paint to the Heat -- an increase of 17.2 points per game from the first two rounds of the playoffs.

SeasonOffRtgDefRtgNetRtgOpp PITPOpp FBPtsOpp PtsTOOpp 2ndPtsDREB%
Regular Season101.696.65.035.510.116.013.074.6%
First 2 Rounds100.398.31.933.58.116.012.778.3%
3rd Rd (vs MIA)108.6110.8-2.250.78.319.714.371.7%

Each member of Indiana's starting five saw a slight increase in the amount of points in the paint they allowed during the first two rounds of the playoffs, despite the team allowing less PITP overall, which is explained by the fact that the starters are playing more minutes in the playoffs. But the leap from the first two rounds to the Conference Finals is alarming.

PlayerOpp PITP
(Regular Season, per game)
Opp PITP
(First 2 Rounds, per game)
Opp PITP
(Conf Finals, per game)
Paul George27.528.742
George Hill25.124.941.3
David West24.224.041.3
Lance Stephenson21.123.836
Roy Hibbert20.322.838
Team35.533.550.7

Miami is scoring 49.0% of its total points in this series in the paint, up from 40.3% in the regular season and 41.3% in the first two rounds of the playoffs. When we break it down by player, you can see that power forwards Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem have scored the lowest percentage of points in the paint as they have primarily been jump shooters in this series. [Give John Schuhmann's blog post about the importance of Miami's bigs to the Heat's Pace and Space philosophy a read for more on this.] Chris Andersen, on the other hand, has been attacking the rim and has yet to miss a shot in this series, scoring 81.3% of his total points from inside the paint.

Player%PITP
(Regular Season)
%PITP
(First 2 Rounds)
%PITP (Conf Finals)
LeBron James47.9%49.1%54.5%
Dwyane Wade55.8%61.5%58.8%
Chris Bosh40.4%31.9%36.7%
Mario Chalmers25.8%34.8%53.3%
Udonis Haslem57.9%60.7%40.0%
Chris Andersen64.7%66.7%81.3%

So, is it just the matchup with the Heat that has caused this huge leap in the amount of points the Pacers have given up in the paint? No.

The Heat averaged 41.5 points in the paint during the regular season (14th in the NBA), and in the three-game season series with the Pacers, Indiana held them to an average of 30.7 points in the paint. That means from the season series (which Indy won 2-1) to the playoffs, the Pacers are allowing the Heat an additional 20 points in the paint per game.

SeasonOffRtgDefRtgNetRtgOpp PITPOpp FBPtsOpp PtsTOOpp 2ndPtsDREB%
3rd Rd (vs MIA)108.6110.8-2.250.78.319.714.371.7%
Season (vs MIA)105.3105.00.330.74.319.38.083.5%
Difference+3.3-5.8-2.5-20.0-4.0-0.4-6.3-11.8%

Part of this increase in points in the paint also comes with an increase in second chance points. In the regular season, the Pacers held the Heat to 8.0 second chance points per game. That is up to 14.3 in the East Finals. Why? They are allowing 11.8% more offensive rebounds in the playoffs than they did during the regular season.

The Heat were among the worst rebounding teams in the league during the regular season -- ranking 22nd in rebounding percentage (49.0%) and 25th in offensive rebounding percentage (grabbing just 22.2% of available offensive rebounds) -- and the third worst in scoring second chance points (10.4 per game). In the regular season, the Pacers limited the Heat's offensive rebounds to 16.5%, but have allowed that to increase to 28.3% in the East Finals.

For the Pacers to get back into this series, they need to resemble the team that held the Heat in check during the regular season, rather than the one that's shown up through the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals.



The Adjustment Bureau: LeBron in the Post

May 27, 2013 -- 5:30 PM

By Brian Martin

Playoff basketball is all about adjustments -- both in-game and between games -- and typically the team or coach that makes the best adjustments wins.

During Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, coach Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat made the strategic move to put LeBron James in the post and have him either create a shot for himself or his teammates.

NBA.com's Steve Aschburner has a great feature on LeBron's post game in Game 3 that you should definitely check out.

Here are NBA.com/Stats, we want to see the numbers behind the adjustment. So we went to the video tape to investigate.

LeBron James -- Game 3

Play TypeFGM-AFG%FTM-AFT%PTSAST
Overall8-1747.1%6-6100.0%223
Post Ups6-966.7%4-4100.0%162
Others2-825.0%2-2100.0%61

During the first four minutes of the game, LeBron stayed on the perimeter as the Heat offense was more perimeter based and led by their bigs -- Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh -- hitting jumpers.

Then with the Pacers leading by one with 7:30 to play in the opening quarter, the switch happened. LeBron went straight to the paint, setting up on the left block against the defense of Paul George, who LeBron has at least a 30-pound advantage over.

On the first possession, as James backed down George, David West came down from the top of the key to provide help, leaving Chris Bosh wide open on the 3-point line. LeBron found him and Bosh drained the long ball.

Two minutes later, James was back on the left block -- his favorite location of the night -- against George, who he backed down into the paint, spun to his left and put up a lefty one-hander off the glass for his first points of the game. If there was a signature play from LeBron on Sunday, this was it, as he went to the left hand multiple times throughout the night.

These were the first two of six post ups for James in the opening quarter. He went two-for-four and got fouled on a fifth attempt, scored six points and had the assist to Bosh. In total, those six post ups accounted for nine points.

The second quarter brought more of the same right from the start. Miami's first two possessions of the period featured James posting up on the left hand side of the floor. The first possession of the quarter was nearly a carbon copy of LeBron's first bucket. He backed down George on the left side, help started to come toward the middle of the key, he spun left for the lefty bank shot.

The second possession added another wrinkle to LeBron's post game. He grabbed rebound off a Tyler Hansbrough miss that was blocked by Chris Andersen and initiated the fast break. However, the Pacers recovered in transition, forcing Miami to set up in the half court. Rather than pull the ball out and initiate a set, James kept the ball and immediately started backing down Sam Young in the post. He passed to Shane Battier on the perimeter, reposted and got the ball right back. He faced up on Young, drove and missed the runner. Although the possession came up empty, it was clear that LeBron was not moving out of the post anytime soon.


LeBron James -- First Half Shot Chart

The baskets and assists kept coming throughout the remainder of the period. A lefty layup with 9:04 to play, an assist on a Udonis Haslem three-point play (4:13), another layup (3:39), a potential assist missed after Bosh missed a wide open three (3:12) and finally a pair of free throws off a foul (3:00). Seven LeBron post ups in the second quarter, led to eight points for LeBron and three points on the assist to Haslem for a total of 11 points.

That's 20 of Miami's 70 first-half points coming directly off of LeBron James post ups -- 14 for LeBron and six for his teammates on two assists. James finished the half with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with all of his shot attempts coming inside 14 feet, including 3-of-3 inside the resticted area and 3-4 in the paint outside the resticted area.

Knowing that the Pacers were going to have to LeBron's post game in the second half, Spoelstra and the Heat countered their own move as a preemptive strike. LeBron continued to spend a lot of time in the paint in the second half, but was not the target of many direct post ups -- he only had two in the half.

Instead, LeBron was setting screens in the paint to free up teammates and get open rolls for himself going to the basket. He split his two post ups, with the make accounting for his only made field goal of the half (1-of-6 total). Instead it was Wade (4-of-7 for eight points) and Mario Chalmers (3-of-5 for 10 points) that led the Heat offense in the second half. While they only scored 44 points, compared to their 70-point explosion in the first half, they were able to keep the Pacers at bay and closed out the game for a 114-96 victory.

GameW/LFGM-AFG%3FGM-A3FG%FTM-AFT%PTSREBASTSTLBLKTO+/-
Game 1W12-2450.0%2-633.3%4-757.1%301010034+3
Game 2L14-2070.0%3-742.9%5-771.4%3683315-7
Game 3W8-1747.1%0-10.0%6-6100.0%2243000+22

LeBron's Game 3 performance is also a lesson on need to look beyond the box score to evaluate a player's game. A look at LeBron's game logs would show that he shot his lowest field goal percentage, and had his fewest points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals of any of this series.

But watching the game -- the first half, in particular -- you saw that this was one of his most dominant performances. The Pacers had no answer for his post game. Now it is time for Frank Vogel and the Pacers to make their own adjustments for Game 4 if they want to even this series before heading back to Miami.



Overtime=Timmy Time

May 25, 2013 -- 10:30 PM

By Brian Martin

For the second consecutive game, Tim Duncan was at his best when his team needed him most -- dominating the overtime period to lead the Spurs to victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals.

He scored seven of his 24 points in the extra session on Saturday to lead the Spurs to a 101-93 victory in Memphis and a 3-0 series lead as the Spurs are one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals.

"He was huge the other night in overtime, he got it done for us and he did it again tonight," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "That's why he is, you know, considered as great as he has for the past 17 years. He's been unbelievable.

"He feels a responsibility to carry us in those kinds of times and he did it again tonight. I don't know what else to say; he was fantastic."

Duncan has scored 31.7 percent of his points in the last two games -- 13 out of 41 total points -- during overtime.

In Game 2, the Spurs led by as many as 18 points (14 in the fourth quarter), only to see the Grizzlies rally to force overtime as they tried to get a split in San Antonio.

Duncan, playing with five fouls, scored six of his 17 points in the overtime period on 3-of-5 shooting on an otherwise cold shooting night (6-of-14 for the game).

Game 2: Memphis at San Antonio

PeriodMINFGM-AFTM-APTSREBASTSTLBLK
Overall31:086-145-7179324
Regulation26:233-95-7117313
Overtime4:453-50-062011

In Game 3, it was the Spurs that had to rally from an early 18-point deficit as the Grizzlies outscored the Spurs 29-13 in the opening quarter. It got so bad that Popovich sat his entire starting five just seven minutes into the game with the Grizzlies leading 16-5 and the Spurs having more turnovers (7) than points (5).

But the Spurs began chipping away in the second quarter, outscoring the Grizzlies 27-15 to trail by just four at the half. Duncan had seven points and four rebounds in the quarter.

The Spurs ended up building a lead of their own in the second half, but the game was back and forth down the stretch. With the game tied at 82, the Grizzlies had the ball for the final shot of regulation. After Mike Conley's wild running shot missed badly, the game was headed for overtime.

Game 3: San Antonio at Memphis

PeriodMINFGM-AFTM-APTSREBASTBLK
Overall44:0711-192-5241052
Regulation39:458-151-417942
Overtime4:223-41-17110

The Spurs pounced on the Grizzlies from the opening tip of the extra session, and it was Duncan leading the way. He scored the team's first five points as the Spurs never trailed for the remainder of the game. But, as always, Duncan contributed more than just points.

With the Spurs ahead by four with just under three minutes remaining, Duncan set a great screen on Conley to free Parker for a jump shot from just inside the free throw line.

After a miss by Marc Gasol on the other end, Duncan found Tiago Splitter at the rim with a beautiful no-look pass. Splitter put up a high-arching layup over the outstretched arm Tayshaun Prince to put the Spurs up by eight and in complete control.

Conley and Parker traded shots over the next minute with Conley's layup bringing the Grizzlies within seven with just over a minute to play. On the next trip down the floor, Parker pulled up for a tough jumper on the left side that missed, but Duncan was there for the putback to score his final points of the night and seal the victory for San Antonio.

That last rebound (his 10th on the night) proved to be historically significant as it secured Duncan's 144th double-double in the playoffs, moving him past Wilt Chamberlain for second place on the all-time list. He trails only Magic Johnson's 157 double-doubles for the most in NBA Playoffs history.

After being held to 13 points in the entire 12-minute first quarter, the Spurs scored 18 points in the five-minute overtime.

A look at Duncan's per-quarter statistics in this series shows that The Big Fundamental has been at his best during the second quarter and overtime periods, boasting ridiculous on-court net ratings of 49.7 and 55.6, respectively.

Tim Duncan vs. Memphis -- Per Quarter

PeriodMINFG%FT%PTSREBASTBLKSTL+/-On-Court NetRtg
18.628.6%50.0%1.72.30.70.70.3+2.0+7.9
28.860.0%60.0%5.03.01.31.00.0+7.7+49.7
38.337.5%50.0%2.72.70.70.30.0-0.7-5.9
45.537.5%0%2.00.71.00.30.0+1.0+10.8
OT4.666.7%100%6.51.50.50.50.5+6.0+55.6

Duncan's dominance in overtime has brought the Spurs within one win over their fifth trip to the NBA Finals during his brilliant tenure in Silver and Black.



For the second time in this playoffs, the Grizzlies are staring at an 0-2 series deficit.

Familiar Territory

May 25, 2013 -- 4:30 PM

By Brian Martin

In the history of the NBA Playoffs, only 16 teams have ever come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. The Memphis Grizzlies will attempt to become the 17th team to accomplish this feat, beginning tonight when they host Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

This is familiar territory for the Grizzlies, who earlier in this playoffs became the 16th team to rally from an 0-2 deficit, knocking off the Los Angeles Clippers in six games after dropping the first two on the road. They became the 10th team to win four straight games to close a series after falling behind 0-2 and the first to do so by winning all four games by double digits.

And it's not just the Grizzlies players that have overcome a 2-0 deficit on the court. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins was a member of the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers team that overcame an 0-2 deficit to win the NBA Finals over the Philadelphia 76ers.

This is also familiar territory for the Spurs, who just last year gave up a 2-0 lead to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

The Spurs entered the 2012 Playoffs on a 10-game winning streak and swept through the first two rounds over the Jazz and Clippers. After winning Game 2 over the Thunder in the Conference Finals, the Spurs had extended their winning streak to 20 games and looked unstoppable. The series then shifted to Oklahoma City and the Spurs never won another game that season.

The Grizzlies know they can overcome an 0-2 deficit -- they just did it less than a month ago.

The Spurs can give up a 2-0 lead -- they just did it last year, in this same round of the playoffs.

Team (Opponent)SeasonPlayoff Round
Boston (vs. L.A. Lakers)1969NBA Finals
L.A. Lakers (vs. San Francisco)1969Western Division Semifinals
Baltimore (vs. New York)1971Eastern Conference Finals
Portland (vs. Philadelphia)1977NBA Finals
Chicago (vs. New York)1993Eastern Conference Finals
Houston (vs. Phoenix)1994Western Conference Semifinals
Houston (vs. Phoenix)1995Western Conference Semifinals
L.A. Lakers (vs. San Antonio)2004Western Conference Semifinals
Dallas (vs. Houston)2005Western Conference First Round
Washington (vs. Chicago)2005Eastern Conference First Round
Miami (vs. Dallas)2006NBA Finals
Utah (vs. Houston)2007Western Conference First Round
Cleveland (vs. Detroit)2007Eastern Conference Finals
San Antonio (vs. New Orleans)2008Western Conference Semifinals
Oklahoma City (vs. San Antonio)2012Western Conference Finals
Memphis (vs. L.A. Clippers)2013Western Conference First Round

In fact a look at the history shows that before the Spurs were a victim of the 0-2 deficit rally to win the series in 2012, they were the last team to accomplish the rare feat -- beating the New Orleans Hornets in the 2008 Western Conference Semifinals in seven games after dropping the first two on the road.

The Spurs are one of three teams that have been involved in three or more of these situations in NBA history, and they have the worst record among them, having lost to the Lakers in 2004 after holding a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Teams involved in most 0-2 series rallies (winner or loser)
Houston Rockets: 2-2
Los Angeles Lakers: 2-1
San Antonio Spurs: 1-2

The team with the worst luck in these situations is New York and Phoenix, who have squandered a 2-0 lead twice in their franchise history without ever pulling off the feat themselves. The Suns did it in back to back years (1993 and 1994), to the same team (Houston), in the same round (Western Conference Finals).

Teams that have given up 2-0 leads twice
New York Knicks (1971, 1993)
Phoenix Suns (1993, 1994)
Houston Rockets (2005, 2007)
San Antonio Spurs (2004, 2012)

The Lakers and Rockets have both overcome this situation twice in their history. So has the Baltimore Bullets/Washington Wizards franchise, with wins in 1971 over New York and 2005 against Chicago.

Teams that have overcome an 0-2 deficit twice
L.A. Lakers (1969, 2004)
Houston Rockets (1994, 1995)
Baltimore Bullets/Washington Wizards (1971, 2005)

This is the list Memphis is hoping to join as they stare down their second 0-2 deficit of these playoffs. If they are able to defy the odds and rally once again, they will set their own piece of history -- they would be the first team to accomplish this feat twice in the same postseason.

Memphis has a tall task ahead of them, but there are signs for optimism with Game 3 set to tip off at the Grindhouse on Saturday night. First, the Grizzlies are 1-5 in Games 1 and 2 during this year's postseason, but 7-0 in all other games.

The Grizzlies are also undefeated in five games at home in this year's playoffs, joining the Indiana Pacers (6-0) as the only teams without a home loss this postseason. Going back to the regular season, the Grizzlies have won 19 of their last 20 home games overall. And the Grizzlies beat the Spurs in two regular season games in Memphis during the regular season.

While Memphis can cling to their recent history in hopes of winning four of the next five games of this series, the predominant history favors the Spurs, who are 19-2 all time when holding a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series.


LeBron Joins Elite Company

May 23, 2013 -- 3:00 PM

While the majority of the day-after discussion of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals has surrounded Frank Vogel's decision to keep Roy Hibbert on the bench for two of the Heat's final three possessions of the game, don't forget to praise LeBron James for making the plays in the final seconds to lead Miami to victory.

First, after a defensive switch forced George Hill to guard James rather than Paul George, LeBron drove past the Pacers point guard for a layup with 10.8 seconds to play to put the Heat ahead 101-99.

But that was just a preview of what was about to come. After Paul George was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to put Indiana up by one with 2.2 seconds to play, the Heat called timeout and coach Erik Spoelstra called James' number again. And once again the MVP delivered.

As Shane Battier set to inbound the ball, the Heat spread the floor wide open for James, with Ray Allen and Chris Bosh headed to the corners and Norris Cole above the 3-point line on the right side. Battier found LeBron straddling the 3-point line on the left edge of the key. As James caught the ball, he had already begun to shift his weight toward the basket as he exploded with a quick first step. One dribble later he was at the rim and laying the ball off the glass as time expired.

Career Playoff Triple-Doubles
Magic Johnson30
Jason Kidd11
Rajon Rondo10
Larry Bird10
Wilt Chamberlain9
LeBron James9

The game-winning basket accounted for James' 29th and 30th points of the night, as he finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists -- his ninth career triple-double in the playoffs, tying him with Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time list.

LeBron has a ways to go to make a run at Magic Johnson's 30 playoff triple-doubles, but he does have the distinction of being the first player in NBA playoff history to have a triple-double and a buzzer-beater game winner in the same game.

He also became just the second player in NBA history to post at least 26 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks in a playoff game, joining Ralph Sampson, who posted that ridiculous line back in 1986. LeBron also joins Oscar Robertson as the only players to post 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game at least four times. LeBron is now halfway to catching the Big O, who posted eight of those performances in his career.

Finally, the date May 22 looks to be taking on special meaning for James, as Wednesday's buzzer-beating game winner came exactly four years after his first playoff buzzer-beating game winner. On May 22, 2009 LeBron hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 96-95 victory over the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.


The Eighth Quarter

May 23, 2013 -- 1:00 PM

Western Conference Finals
Game 11234TOT
MEM1423202683
SAN31202232105
Box Score

Game 21234OTTOT
MEM13183321489
SAN1531309893
Box Score

Through the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs have won five quarters (as well as the series' only overtime period).

In those five quarters, they have outscored the Grizzlies by a total of 40 points, with margins of 17, 2, 6, 2 and 13.

In the three quarters that Memphis has won, they have outscored the Spurs by a total of 18 points, with margins of 3, 3 and 12 -- the largest of which came in the fourth quarter of Game 2, the eighth quarter of the series.

After being outscored by 34 points in the first seven quarters of the series, the Grizzlies finally broke through in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night, outscoring the Spurs 21-9 to tie the game and force overtime. Did they figure something out strategically or did they just execute at a higher level and cut out the mistakes.

Grizzlies vs Spurs (Averages)

PeriodFG%3FG%FT%PTSOREBREBASTTOSTLBLK
Overall38.0%34.5%69.6%86.014.547.519.512.07.56.0
1st 7 Qtr39.9%42.9%70.0%21.03.310.44.92.71.31.4
8th Qtr38.1%33.3%66.7%211145142
OT16.7%0.0%0.0%4580220

Grizzlies vs Spurs (Totals)

PeriodFGM-A3FGM-AFTM-APTSOREBREBASTTOSTLBLK
G132-745-1214-20831035201266
G2 1st 3 Qtr23-644-914-2064133814734
1st 7 Qtr55-1389-2128-4014723733419910
8th Qtr8-211-34-6211145142
OT2-120-50-04580220

The 21 points the Grizzlies scored in the period matches the average quarter for the first seven quarters of the series. Their shooting was actually worst across the board (FG%: 38.1, 3FG%: 33.3, FT%: 66.7%), they grabbed fewer offensive rebounds and their assists were nearly the same. So what was the key?

A few things stand out:

1. They only committed one turnover, compared to an average of 2.7 per quarter in the series.

2. They had four steals, compared to their per quarter average of 1.3, part of holding the Spurs to a nine-point quarter

3. They had 13 defensive rebounds, compared to their per quarter average of seven, helping limit the Spurs' second chance opportunities.

4. Zach Randolph awoke from the slumber he was in for the first six quarters of the series, and hit 3-of-5 shots in the fourth after hitting 2-of-2 in the third on his way to 13 points and six rebounds in the second half.

5. The strategic move by Lionel Hollins to replace Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen with Quincy Pondexter and Jerryd Bayless for much of the period. The duo combined for nine points (4-of-8 shooting), five rebounds and two steals in the fourth.

After struggling to find the right combination through the first seven quarters, Hollins finally got a lineup working when he had Pondexter and Beyless playing alongside Mike Conley for much of the quarter. "We finally found a combination, we finally found something we could use to attack," Hollins said. "We played a little faster."

Look for more of that combo as the series shifts back to Memphis.


Where's the Big Three in the Big Quarter?

May 22, 2013 -- 8:00 PM

An interesting note coming after Game 2 of the West Finals between the Spurs and Grizzlies. In the fourth quarter, when the Grizzlies outscored the Spurs 21-9 to force overtime, the Spurs Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were only on the floor together for three minutes.

And this seems to be a trend.

During the postseason, the Big Three is only playing together for 10.7 minutes per game, which is 13th among Spurs 3-man lineups that have been used in five games or more. The most used trio for the Spurs in the playoffs has been Duncan, Parker and Kawhi Leonard at 25.8 minutes per game.

In the fourth quarter, the Big Three are on the floor together for just 2.4 minutes per game, which is 26th among Spurs 3-man lineups that have been used in five games or more. The most used trio for the Spurs in the fourth quarter during the playoffs only includes one member of the Big Three -- with Parker joined by Leonard and Danny Green for 5.9 minutes per game.

The overall minutes played numbers are consistent with the regular season, where the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili trio averaged 11.0 minutes on the court together in 45 games and the Duncan/Leonard/Parker line lead the way with an average of 22.6 per game. The latter group has increased its average by nearly three minutes per game in the playoffs.

But in the fourth quarter, the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili trio averaged 4.7 minutes per game in 22 appearances during the regular season, nearly double their current playoff average of 2.4. It was the 21st most used trio during the regular season in the fourth quarter -- a list that is populated with deep bench trios, indicating plenty of garbage time for the Spurs this season as they sat on big leads in the fourth and got their stars rest.

When we rewind to the 2007-08 -- the earliest season that we have lineup data, and a year removed from the Spurs' last NBA title -- things look much different.

During the 2008 playoffs, the Big Three played together for 22.1 minutes per game, second for Spurs 3-man lineups, trailing only Duncan, Parker and Bruce Bowen at 24.3 minutes per game. And in the fourth quarter, the Big Three led all Spurs trios with an average of 6.4 minutes per game in 13 games.

The first question that comes to mind is why? Yes, Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are all older than they were in the prime of their run together, but it does seem strange that the cornerstones of the franchise are on the floor so little together, especially in the fourth quarter.

Has there been a change in philosophy from coach Popovich? Is it strictly an age-related decision to make sure everyone is getting proper rest? Is there a greater trust in the team's younger players (Green, Leonard, Splitter)?

We're reaching out to coach Popovich to see what kind of light he can shed on this topic. Check back for an update.