NBA Stats

Jun 21 2013 4:54AM

NBA.com/Stats Number Crunch: The Finals

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



Miami Shoots its Way to the Title

June 21, 2013 -- 1:10AM

By Brian Martin

All series long the San Antonio Spurs dared LeBron James to beat them with jump shots. In Game 7, LeBron James beat them with jump shots.

The Spurs defenders constantly sagged off of James when he had the ball on the perimeter, packing the paint to prevent him from penetrating the lane and getting to the basket. Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Boris Diaw drew the assignment of checking James throughout The Finals and played the strategy perfectly.

Of course LeBron had flashes of brilliance during the first six games -- his headband-less explosion in Game 6 could not be stopped -- but for the most part the strategy was working. The Spurs were not going to allow the best player in the world to beat them with high percentage shots.

In the first six games of The Finals, LeBron shot 34-of-65 (52.3%) inside the paint and just 21-of-61 (34.4%) outside the paint, including 7-of-23 (30.4%) from 3-point range.

That all changed in Game 7. On Thursday, LeBron took only three shots inside the paint (all in the restricted area) and made all three. His shots in the paint (3) and his free throws (8) accounted for 14 of his game-high 37 points.

His other 23 points came from outside the paint, where he shot 9-of-20 (45.0%) on the night, going 4-of-10 on mid-range shots and 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. After hitting just seven threes in the first six games combined, LeBron dropped five on the Spurs in Game 7.

LeBron James, Games 1-6

LeBron James, Game 7

Shot LocationGames 1-6Game 7
Restricted Area30-46 (65.2%)3-3 (100%)
Paint (Non-RA)4-19 (21.1%)0-0 (0%)
Mid-Range14-38 (36.8%)4-10 (40%)
Corner 31-5 (20.0%)2-2 (100%)
Above Break 36-18 (33.3%)3-8 (37.5%)

James posted the best shooting numbers of his 10-year NBA career during the regular season -- posting career-bests of 56.5% from the field and 40.6% from 3-point range. When it comes to shots outside the paint, LeBron shot 43.2% on mid-range shots, the second highest percentage of his career.

"I watched film, and my mind started to work and I said, 'okay, this is how they're going to play me for the whole series.' I looked at all my regular-season stats, all my playoff stats, and I was one of the best mid-range shooters in the game. I shot a career high from the 3-point line.

"I just told myself 'don't abandon what you've done all year. Don't abandon now because they're going under [screens]. Don't force the paint. If it's there, take it. If not, take the jumper.'"

James began to find his outside shot in Game 4 of the series, when he went 15-of-25 (60%) overall, 7-of-10 on mid-range shots and 1-of-3 from three. That was followed by a 3-of-8 performance from outside the paint in Game 5 and 3-of-13 in Game 6.

But with one game for the championship, LeBron was at his best. He finished Game 7 with 32 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. The 37 points ties him with Tom Heinsohn for the most points ever in a Game 7 win in The Finals and is the fourth-best scoring performance in a Finals Game 7 of all-time, just five points behind the record 42 points posted by Jerry West in 1969.

This was the fifth Game 7 of LeBron's career, and his first in The Finals. In those winner-take-all games, James is averaging 34.4 points, which is the highest average in NBA history for players with at least two Game 7 appearances, ahead of Michael Jordan (33.7) and George Gervin (32.0).

If that wasn't elite enough of company to keep on Thursday night, James also joined Jordan and Bill Russell as the only players to ever win back-to-back regular season MVPs and NBA titles. And the only players with four regular-season MVPs, two title and two Finals MVPs are now LeBron, Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Finals MVP did not exist when Bill Russell played. If it had, there would have been four members of that group.


James wasn't the only member of the Heat to find his outside shot when it mattered most. Reminiscent of teammate Mike Miller going 7-of-8 from beyond the arc a year ago in the championship-clinching Game 5 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Shane Battier caught fire from long-range in Game 7.

Battier was the sixth-leading 3-point shooter in the NBA this season, hitting 43.0% of his shots from beyond the arc. But his normally reliable shot abandoned him in the playoffs, where he shot just 23.0% through the first three rounds, forcing coach Erik Spoelstra to limit his minutes and even hold him out of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Things didn't get any better in The Finals, as Battier didn't reach double figures in minutes played until Game 5 and shot just 3-of-15 (20.0%) through the first five games. But in the Heat's final two games, both elimination games, Battier rediscovered his shooting stroke, hitting 9-of-12 (75.0%) of his 3-point attempts in Games 6 and 7.

Shane Battier, Games 1-5

Shane Battier, Games 6-7

Battier hit six threes in Game 7 and none were bigger than his final one of the night with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. According to the NBA's new leverage model to measure the impact of plays, it was the most important play of the game. [NBA.com's John Schuhmann has a full breakdown here].

"Shane ain't hit a shot since I don't know when," said Dwyane Wade after the game. "But tonight he was unconscious."

Battier's six threes set an NBA Finals record for most in a Game 7, shattering the previous record of two triples.

"Reports of my demise were premature. That's my opening statement," Battier said with a laugh to open his post-game press conference.


And don't forget about Wade, who won his third NBA title exactly seven years to the day after he led the Heat to their first NBA championship on June 20, 2006. He also had a big night in Game 7, posting a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Wade shot 11-of-21 from the field, and left the long-distance shooting to LeBron and Battier. Wade only scored two buckets at the rim (a dunk in transition and a layup off a screen), and instead used his mid-range jumper on the left wing (five makes) and hook shots in the lane (three makes) to do the majority of his scoring.

"He was big-time tonight. He didn't wait," said James of Wade. "He had I think five or six one-on-one iso situations, jumpers. He was in attack mode all night."

Dwyane Wade, Game 7

Wade clearly had his ups and downs throughout the playoffs as he nursed a bone bruise in his knee that clearly hampered his game. In the first three games of The Finals, he averaged just 14.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 44.2%. In the final four games, those averages rose to 23.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 49.4%.


But not everyone on the Heat had a hot shooting hand in Game 7. Two days after hitting the biggest 3-pointer of his life to push Game 6 to overtime and save Miami's championship hopes, Ray Allen did not hit a shot in Game 7. And he wasn't the only one.

Remember Mike Miller's 3-pointer while only wearing one shoe in the fourth quarter of Game 6? That turned out to be the last shot he made in The Finals. Like Allen, he also went scoreless in Game 7, missing all five of his shot attempts, including four threes.

Then there is the third member of the Big Three - Chris Bosh - who was plagued with foul trouble throughout Game 7 and also posted a zero in the points column -- the first time since his rookie season (Feb. 12, 2004) that he was held scoreless in a game. Bosh had five fouls and five missed shots in Game 7. To his credit, he did grab seven rebounds, handed out two assists, blocked a shot and played solid post defense while he was on the floor.

But three of the Heat's key players -- including two starters -- all going scoreless in Game 7 was definitely a surprise. The trio combined to go 0-of-14 from the field, including 0-of-7 from 3-point range.

Ray Allen, Mike Miller & Chris Bosh, Game 7

Rest of Team, Game 7

Only five players scored for the Heat in Game 7, with Mario Chalmers scoring 14 points and Chris Andersen chipping in three to go along with the performances of James (37), Wade (23) and Battier (18). In fact, the Heat's top four scorers outscored the Spurs by themselves, 92-88.

"We kept saying, nobody is going to remember what your shooting percentage was," said Wade. "They're going to remember if you won a championship or not. When they talk about Mike Miller, when they talk about Chris, et cetera, they're going to talk about them winning two championships. They're not going to talk about them only taking five shots and missing five.

"Those guys made a positive impact. Chris did an unbelievable job of trying to guard Tim Duncan one-on-one all night because we wanted to stay home on the shooters like Danny Green and those guys. So total team effort."



Game 7 Preview

June 20, 2013 -- 12:30PM

By Jay Cipoletti

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. -- Albert Einstein

Merely saying 'Game 7' conjures up thoughts of intense pressure, heroic storylines and tragic tales of loss. Tonight's game is no different: can Tim Duncan repeat his Game 6 effort? Can Dwyane Wade fight through the pain in his knees? Which 3-point marksman -- Danny Green, Mike Miller, Ray Allen -- will forever put his stamp on these Finals? Will the Spurs Big 3 add one more ring to their legacy? Will Miami's Big 3 take another step towards building their own? Will LeBron's headband be redeemed?

It is easy to get caught up in the drama surrounding the game, and make no mistake, there is plenty of drama to be found ... but you can read about that anywhere.

Here, we offer up a simplistic look at how these teams have played through the first six games of the Finals. What stands out is how closely these two teams mirror each other in both their wins and their losses. At their best, both teams have distilled the game of basketball to its simplest form -- Do not turn the ball over; Take good shots.

In their three series wins, the Spurs are scoring at a rate of 115.7 points per 100 possessions; the Heat at 115.0 per 100. For reference, Miami led the NBA in Offensive Rating at 110.3 during the regular season. In their losses, the Spurs have only managed an Offensive Rating of 98.9, the Heat only 97.5

Finals Offensive RatingSan Antonio SpursMiami Heat
Wins115.7115.0
Losses98.997.5

We said that both teams have been able to simplify the game in their wins; as those numbers show, they have also complicated the game for their opponent to roughly the same degree, and in the same way. A look at the Four Factors isolates and illustrate the two keys once again.

First, the two Factors that have had little impact. San Antonio has gotten to the foul line at a higher rate in their losses (0.313 FT Rate) than in their wins (0.260); Miami's FT Rate has remained the same -- 0.209 in wins, 0.208 in losses. Although Chris Bosh's critical offensive rebound at the end of Game 6 directly impacted the outcome of that contest, offensive rebounding overall has not varied in wins and losses.

Finals Factors (W/L)San Antonio SpursMiami Heat
OREB%25.9% / 26.0%23.1% / 24.0%
FTA Rate0.260 / 0.3130.209 / 0.208

Now, the two Factors that have mattered.

Finals Factors San Antonio SpursMiami Heat

WINSLOSSESWINSLOSSES
eFG%56.2%47.9%54.8%48.1%
TO%13.1%18.0%11.0%14.7%

The beauty of these Finals has been that both teams play well the same way, and both teams have played poorly (or been forced to play poorly) in much the same way. Although the lineups, offensive sets and defensive game plans have been much different, the end result when executed properly has been a highly efficient brand of basketball.

Tonight's Game 7 will likely be no different. The only variable is which team plays with simplistic efficiency.



Game 6 Network Analysis

June 20, 2013 -- 2:10PM

Our first look at network analysis came prior to The Finals, when we discussed the importance of the corner three for both the Spurs and Heat and the need for both teams to cut off the supply line to those highly valuable shots.

We brought it back after Game 1 to take a closer look at all of the assists how the teams compared in setting each other up. And now we're doing it again after Tuesday's epic Game 6.

Ironically, both runs of our network analysis came after triple-doubles by LeBron James, and the two closely contest games of the series.

Table 1: Assisted Points

Here are some takeaways:

  • Once again, LeBron James was the center of attention for the Heat. He finished with 11 assists, which led to 29 points. When you combine that with his game-high 32 points, James had his fingerprints on 61 of the Heat's 103 points (59.2%).
  • The greatest beneficiary of LeBron's assists was Mario Chalmers, who had struggled mightily over the previous three games after having a breakout 19-point performance in Game 2. In Games 3, 4 and 5 in San Antonio, Chalmers scored a total of 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting (21.1%). James helped get Chalmers going by getting him wide open looks at the basket.

    Chalmers finished with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, with five of his makes (including four 3-pointers) coming off assists from James. While LeBron helped Chalmers score 14 points in Game 6, Chalmers reciprocated with a pair of assists to James, for four points. This was by far the most productive Dyad of the night, with seven assists in both directions accounting for 18 points.

  • In Game 1, Dwyane Wade was the recipient of assists, but was not setting up his teammates for many made baskets (two assists accounting for five points). But in Game 6, Wade nearly doubled that output with four assists good for nine Heat points.
  • The San Antonio Spurs, the team that led the league during the regular season with 25.1 assists per game, had only 13 assists on 37 made field goals in Game 6. Their 13 assists led to 29 points -- the same point total that LeBron James accounted for by himself on 11 assists.
  • Tony Parker dished out eight of the Spurs 13 assists, which led to 19 points for San Antonio. Manu Ginobili (3) and Boris Diaw (2) were the only other Spurs to record an assist in Game 3. And none of those assists from Ginobili and Diaw went to Parker, who had six made field goals with none assisted.
  • Table 2: Dyad Analysis

    Figure 1: Team Network Chart
    (Size of player circle = FGM, arrow direction = assist, # on arrow = # of assists, circular arrow = unassisted)



    Revisiting the Effective Defensive Rate Metric for Game 6

    June 19, 2013 -- 9:00PM

    After Game 3 of the Finals, we introduced Effective Defensive Rate (eDEF%), a new statistic developed by the NBA to better measure defensive contribution.

    [If you missed it, or want a refresher, you can read about it here].

    We revisit the metric now to take a closer look at Miami's Game 6 win over San Antonio to force Thursday's Game 7.

    On the right is the Effective Defensive Rate (eDEF%) for every player that played in Game 6.

    And below is a full breakdown of their performance based on the different zones of the court. [Click the image for full size].

    Here are some of the key takeaways from Game 6:

    Boris Diaw (67.2%), Kawhi Leonard (64.0%), and Tim Duncan (63.9%) shined the brightest in Game 6 based on eDEF%.

  • Diaw's defense on LeBron was stellar again last night (at least through three quarters) as he forced the MVP to take several pull-ups and floaters.
  • The Spurs as a unit forced Miami to take more mid-range shots than usual (33% of Miami's FGA came from the mid-range last night compared to just 27% in the regular season).
  • Ray Allen (54.7%) and Mario Chalmers (52.8%) had the best defensive games for Heat based on eDEF%.

  • This corresponds directly with the inefficient games played by many members of the Spurs backcourt (Parker, Ginobili, Green, Neal).
  • Several of Miami's players were given below average ratings for defending corner threes. Even though the Spurs shot poorly on Corner 3s, eDEF% values those as bad possessions for Miami's defense.

    Both teams did a poor job of defensive rebounding throughout the game.

  • This was highlighted by Bosh's offensive rebound prior to Ray Allen's game-tying three.
  • Although Chris Andersen's defense was not spectacular overall based on eDEF% (47.6%), the Heat protected the paint the best when he was on floor in terms of both defending attempted shots by the Spurs, and blocking shots. However, the Heat rebounded very poorly with Andersen on the floor.



    Game 6 By The Numbers

    June 19, 2013 -- 12:55AM

    By Brian Martin

    The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs gave us a game for the ages on Tuesday night in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

    There was dominance by Tim Duncan early, brilliant play from LeBron James late (without his signature headband), some costly mistakes down the stretch, and a clutch shot by an all-time great that will not soon be forgotten.

    As LeBron James said in his postgame press conference: "This is by far the best game I've ever been a part of."

    With that, let's dig into Game 6, by the numbers.


    1
    Ray Allen hit just one 3-pointer in Game 6 ... and it saved Miami's season.

    After LeBron James missed a three with 7.9 seconds to play, Chris Bosh grabbed a huge offensive rebound and found Ray Allen retreating to the 3-point line in the right corner. Allen got his feet behind the line, took the pass and rose for the shot, hitting nothing but net with 5.2 seconds left to tie the game at 95 and force overtime. Allen had just two points when he took one of the biggest shots of his career.

    "It's a shot that I'm going to remember for a long time." - Ray Allen

    Allen increased his own NBA record for postseason threes to 352 -- 32 more than Reggie Miller (second all-time). Allen is 12-of-20 from three in The Finals and 6-of-9 in the fourth quarter.

    Speaking of threes and the number 1 ... how about Mike Miller hitting a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter while wearing just one shoe. After going scoreless in Games 4 and 5 in San Antonio, Miller had eight points and seven rebounds in Game 6. He hit both of his 3-point attempts -- one while wearing both shoes and one with a shoe and a sock on the floor.


    2
    Chris Bosh blocked the Spurs' final two shots of the night. The first was an 18-foot jump shot by Tony Parker with 32.3 seconds to play in overtime and the Heat clinging to a one-point lead. After ending up guarding Parker on a switch, Bosh gave Parker space to prevent him from driving, when Parker pulled up for the jumper, Bosh leaped and got his outstretched hand on the ball.

    The second came as the buzzer sounded to end the game in overtime. With 1.9 seconds to play and trailing by three, the Spurs ran Danny Green off a Tiago Splitter screen to set up a corner three on the far end of the court. As Green caught the ball, Bosh closed out hard on Green and blocked the shot emphatically to seal the win.

    "He won't be open tonight." -- Bosh said prior to Game 6 about Green, who set an NBA Finals record with his 25th 3-pointer in the Finals during Game 5.

    Green shot 1-of-7 in Game 6, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range. On the three that he did hit, he was wide open. But when it counted most, Bosh backed up his pre-game words.


    3
    The Spurs entered Game 6 shooting 44.2 percent from 3-point range, fueled largely by the record-breaking performance of Danny Green throughout The Finals.

    The Spurs shot just 5-of-18 (27.8%) from 3-point range in Game 6, compared to 11-of-19 (57.9%) for the Heat.

    Green hit just 1-of-5 from beyond the arc, while Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Gary Neal all went 1-of-3, and Boris Diaw missed his only attempt.

    For the Heat, LeBron James and Ray Allen each hit only one 3-pointer on the night -- and they both came in the final seconds of the fourth quarter to force overtime. The rest of the squad shot well, with Mike Miller going 2-of-2, Mario Chalmers going 4-of-5 and Shane Battier hitting 3-of-4 in Game 6.


    4
    With his 32-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist performance, LeBron James became just the fourth player in NBA history with 30+ points, 10+ rebounds and 10+ assists in an NBA Finals game, joining the elite company of Charles Barkley, James Worthy and Jerry West.

    Through the first three quarters, James had 14 points on 3-of-12 shooting along with six rebounds and seven assists. He shot just 1-of-5 in the paint (1-of-3 in the restricted area), 2-of-5 from mid-range and 0-of-2 from three. James did make 10 trips to the free throw line in the first three quarters and made eight of his attempts.

    In the fourth quarter and overtime, James had 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting along with four rebounds and four assists. With the game and the season on the line, James attacked the basket relentlessly. He shot 7-of-9 in the paint (6-of-7 from the restricted area), 1-of-3 from 3-point range and 0-of-2 on mid-range shots.

    LeBron James, First 3 Quarters

    LeBron James, Fourth Quarter and OT

    With his Game 6 performance, James became one of only six players to ever record a triple-double in an NBA Finals elimination game, joining Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Wes Unseld, Jerey West and Bill Russell.

    This was the 11th career postseason triple-double for James, tying him with Jason Kidd for second all-time. And it was his fourth career triple-double in The Finals, which is second all-time to Magic Johnson's eight.

    Tuesday's Game 6 was the 12th playoff elimination game of LeBron James' career. He is averaging 31.5 points in those games, which is the highest average in NBA history.


    5
    After everything that happened late in the game, you might forget how dominant Tim Duncan was in the first half. He scored 25 points -- half of San Antonio's 50-point total at the break -- on 11-of-13 shooting (84.6%). Prior to Game 6, the last time Duncan had scored 25 points in the first half of a game was on May 16, 2006.

    Duncan looked poised to easily break his NBA Finals career-high of 33 points, but he scored just five points in the second half and overtime on 2-of-8 shooting (25.0%). Duncan finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds, but was unable to help the Spurs hold off the Heat down the stretch, going scoreless in the final 21:30 of the game.

    "It's a one-game series now. I don't know what happened in the 4th and overtime ... just a disappointing loss" - Tim Duncan

    Tim Duncan, First Half

    Tim Duncan, Second Half and OT

    The Spurs held a five-point lead with 28.2 seconds to play after Manu Ginobili split a pair of free throws. After a missed three by LeBron James, the Spurs were unable to secure the rebound and allowed James another opportunity, which he hit to cut the lead to two with 20 seconds remaining. The Heat had to foul and put Kawhi Leonard on the line with 19.4 seconds left. The third-year pro split the pair to keep it a one-possession game. Then came the Ray Allen three after another missed defensive rebound by the Spurs that tied the game and sent it to overtime.

    The Heat finished the game with 17 second-chance points and six of them coming in the final 20.1 seconds of the fourth quarter.


    6
    Tony Parker hit just six of his 23 shot attempts in Game 6. Parker made 3-of-4 attempts in the restricted area, went 2-of-6 in the rest of the paint, 0-of-10 on mid-range shots and 1-of-3 from 3-point range. He shot 5-of-10 in the paint and 1-of-13 outside the paint.

    As poorly as Parker shot the ball in Game 6, he had a three-possession stretch late in the fourth quarter that put the Spurs in position to win.

    The Spurs took timeout with 1:47 to play and trailing 89-86. At this point, Parker was shooting 4-of-16 from the field and had not hit a shot in nearly a full quarter (layup with 1:36 to play in the third).

    Parker dribbled at the top of the key and pulled up for a 3-pointer (his only make in three attempts) that tied the game at 89. He followed that with a steal against Mario Chalmers on Miami's ensuing possession. He pushed the ball in transition, stopped on a dime in the middle of the paint against Chalmers (one of the few times he wasn't being guarded by LeBron James), spun left and hit a 12-foot jumper to put give the Spurs the lead with 58 seconds to play.

    Parker would not hit a shot for the remainder of the game. He missed a desperation attempt at the buzzer to end regulation and went 0-of-4 in overtime.

    "We can't forget that we have another opportunity on Thursday to try to win a championship."


    7
    The Heat have now won seven straight playoffs games following a loss. The streak climbs to 13 if you include the regular season as the Heat have not lost back-to-back games since Jan 8-10. By winning Game 6, that streak will carry over to next season.

    Miami's win sets up Game 7 on Thursday -- one final game to determine a champion. Since the 2-3-2 format began in 1985, there have been four Game 7s and the home team has won all four times.

    "Look, if you said September 29th when we started on our trip going to China if we could decide this season with a Game 7 in our building, every single one of us take it. You know, they're the best two words in team sports, 'Game 7'." -- Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

    The last time a road team won a Game 7 in The Finals was back in 1979 when the Washington Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 105-99 to win the NBA title.

    This will be the 18th Game 7 in NBA Finals history. The home team has gone 14-3 in the first 17 Game 7s.


    8
    After having one of the greatest games of his legendary Spurs career, Manu Ginobili had a game to forget on Tuesday. He finished with nine points and a career-high (regular seasons or playoffs) eight turnovers.

    "I have no clue how we're going to be re-energized. I'm devastated."

    Ginobili posted a plus/minus of minus-21, the lowest of any player in the game.

    For the Heat, it was Dwyane Wade who registered the lowest plus/minus on the night at minus-15. Wade banged knees with Ginobili early in the game and was clearly affected the rest of the way. Wade was on the bench the Heat's 24-9 run that turned a 12-point deficit (75-63 with 39.4 seconds to play in the third quarter) to a 3-point lead (87-84 with 3:48 to play in the fourth).


    9
    With nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter, LeBron James followed up a Mario Chalmers air ball with an putback dunk and lost his headband in the process. He then proceeded to take over the game, prompting Twitter to blow up with talk of the "No Headband Game" and #noheadband becoming a trending topic.

    So what do the numbers say about LeBron with and without the headband? I'm glad you asked because we've cut the box score for the first 39 minutes of the game (with headband) and the final 14 minutes of the game (sans headband).

    LeBron's AttireMINPTSREBASTBLKSTLTOFG%3FG%FT%
    With Headband35:45186902235.7%0.0%80.0%
    W/O Headband14:01144211450.0%33.3%50.0%
    Note: We're counting the putback dunk as a no headband play since it looks like he lost it in the process of the rebound/dunk

    And, of course, we have shot charts as well.

    LeBron James, With Headband

    LeBron James, Without Headband

    James doubled his scoring output once the headband came off -- he went from scoring one point every two minutes to scoring one point every minute. He shot at a higher percentage, made his only three of the night and grabbed four rebounds in 14 minutes, compared to six in nearly 36 minutes.

    Not everything was better without the headband though, as James did commit four turnovers without his normal headwear, compared to two with it. And before the Heat's amazing 5-0 run in the last 20 seconds to force overtime, two of James' turnovers nearly cost the Heat the game.

    After Parker's jumper in the paint to put the Spurs up two with 58 seconds to play, James had the ball stolen by Kawhi Leonard on the Heat's next possession. This led to a foul on Manu Ginobili, who hit a pair of free throws to put the Spurs up four. On the next possession, James turned it over again, going up in the air and throwing an errant pass that was taken by Ginobili, who was once again fouled. Luckiliy, for the Heat, Ginobili split the free throws to keep it a five-point deficit with 28 seconds to play.

    Had Ginobili (and later Leonard) hit their free throws, or if the Spurs had been able to grab a defensive rebound on Miami's final two possessions, no-headband LeBron would have likely been the scapegoat with those two late turnovers, rather than the hero that he ended up being.


    10
    The Spurs led the game by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter. San Antonio was 12 minutes away from their fifth NBA title with a 10-point lead and could not hold off the surging Heat.

    This was the third time in the series that the Spurs took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, but it was the first time they lost when doing so.

    In Game 3, the Spurs led 78-63 (+15) after three quarters and cruised to a 113-77 victory to take a 2-1 series lead.

    In Game 5, the Spurs led 87-75 (+12) heading into the fourth quarter and won the game by 10 points to move within a win of the title.

    But in Game 6, the Spurs were unable to hold onto their lead, as the Heat opened the quarter with an 8-2 run in just 94 seconds to cut their deficit to four with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan both on the bench.

    The Heat continued to chip away at the lead and eventually tied (82-82 with 6:34 to play) and took the lead (84-82 with 6:03 to play). The Heat would build a three-point lead of their own during the period, that they maintained until Parker's 5-0 burst over 29 seconds in the game's final minute-and-a-half.




    Push the Pace

    June 18, 2013 -- 11:45AM

    By Brian Martin

    Gregg Popovich, the man of few words during sideline interviews, had plenty to say to his team during a timeout early in the fourth quarter of Game 5.


    The first three words (well, it's actually the same word repeated three times) were the key to Game 5. It was all about the pace that San Antonio played at throughout the game that put them on the precipice of their fifth championship.

    The Spurs scored 114 points on 60 percent shooting in Game 5. It was the highest point total of The Finals for either team and the most points the Spurs had scored since their double-overtime win over Golden State in Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals back on May 6 (129 points).

    Time PeriodPointsFG%PACE
    Regular Season103.048.1%96.36
    First 3 Rounds101.646.9%92.24
    Games 1-4, Finals95.544.4%89.70
    Game 5, Finals11460.0%97.62

    Heading into Game 5, the Spurs had averaged just 95.5 points per game on 44.4 percent shooting in The Finals and played at a much slower pace (89.70 possessions per 48 minutes) compared to their season average (96.36, sixth fastest in the league).

    In Game 5, the Spurs' pace jumped up to 97.62, their point total up to 114 and their shooting percentage up to 60.0 -- their previous high was 48.9 percent in their Game 3 win over the Heat.

    After Miami made the move go smaller in Game 4 by inserting Mike Miller into the starting lineup for Udonis Haslem, the Spurs matched the small-ball lineup for Game 5 as Manu Ginobili started in place of Tiago Splitter.

    Ginobili had struggled mightily during the first four games of The Finals, but had a breakout game on Sunday, scoring 24 points and dishing out a team-high 10 assists while playing alongside Tony Parker rather than in his stead as the Spurs' primary playmaker.

    The Parker and Ginobili combo were at the core of the Spurs' push to speed up the game. They ran at every opportunity, not just picking spots when they had a clear advantage in transition.

    Heat turnover: run; Heat missed shot: run, Heat missed free throw: run. Even a Heat made shot: run; Heat made free throw: run. Any opportunity the Spurs had to run, they did.

    Even in half-court sets, the Spurs wasted little time in getting their shots up. Using more isolations rather than their standard multiple pick-and-roll sets, the Spurs attacked the rim quickly and either got layups or runners in the paint, or they kicked it out for wide-open threes.

    We took a closer look at the box score and the game tape to look at three things:

      1. How fast did the Spurs get off a shot on each possession?
      2. What was the result of the previous possession that led to the Spurs offensive possession?
      3. Where did the Spurs shot come from on the floor?

    The Spurs took a total of 70 shots in Game 5 -- 48 from two-point range and 22 from three-point range. When we examine those 70 shot attempts (both makes and misses), we see that the Spurs shot 22 times in the first eight seconds of the shot clock, 27 times in the middle eight seconds and 21 times in the final eight seconds of the clock.

    Here is a breakdown by quarter

    Shot Clock Used1st Qtr2nd Qtr3rd Qtr4th QtrTotal
    1-8 seconds467522
    9-16 seconds965727
    17-24 seconds637521

    The Spurs also shot 26 free throws on 13 shooting fouls (one on a 3-point attempt and another on an and-one). While the and-one is considered one of the 70 field goal attempts, the others are not counted as shot attempts for the Spurs. However, those trips to the line were still part of the Spurs' push-the-pace philosophy as five of the 13 shooting fouls occurred in the first eight seconds of the shot clock.

    Shooting Fouls

    Shot Clock UsedTotal
    1-8 seconds5 shooting fouls
    9-16 seconds4 shooting shots
    17-24 seconds4 shooting shots

    Let's take a closer look at the shot attempts that came in the 1-8 second range.

    In the first half, the Spurs took 10 shots within the first eight seconds of the shot clock -- six of those came in the restricted area, two came in the paint, and the final two came on a mid-range jumper and an above the break three.

    The Spurs went 5-of-10 in these possessions, scoring 10 points and establishing their strategy to get into their offense quickly regardless of the situation.

    First Quarter
    Restricted area dunk (transition, off missed jumper) -- miss
    9:15 -- MISS Bosh 15' Jump Shot
    9:14 -- Leonard REBOUND (Off:0 Def:2)
    9:10 -- MISS Green 1' Dunk

    Restricted area layup (transition, off missed three) -- miss
    8:17 -- MISS Miller 25' 3PT Jump Shot
    8:16 -- Duncan REBOUND (Off:0 Def:1)
    8:14 -- MISS Green 2' Layup

    Above the break three (transition, off steal) -- miss
    1:16 -- Chalmers Bad Pass Turnover (P1.T3)
    1:16 -- Leonard STEAL (1 STL)
    1:11 -- MISS Neal 25' 3PT Jump Shot

    Restricted area dunk (offensive rebound) -- make
    1:11 -- MISS Neal 25' 3PT Jump Shot
    1:08 -- Diaw REBOUND (Off:1 Def:1)
    1:03 -- Leonard 1' Dunk (4 PTS) (Diaw 1 AST)[ 29 - 17 ]


    Second Quarter
    Restricted area dunk (transition, off made three) -- make
    11:35 -- Battier 24' 3PT Jump Shot (3 PTS) (Allen 1 AST) [ 32 - 22 ]
    11:30 -- Splitter Dunk (2 PTS) (Neal 1 AST) [ 34 - 22 ]

    Paint floater (transition, off missed jumper) -- make
    10:18 -- MISS Chalmers 12' Jump Shot
    10:17 -- Leonard REBOUND (Off:0 Def:4)
    10:11 -- Leonard 8' Floating Jump Shot (9 PTS)[ 36 - 22 ]

    Paint jumper (transition, off made tip-in) -- miss
    5:58 -- Bosh 1' Tip Shot (10 PTS) [ 47 - 34 ]
    5:50 --MISS Duncan 5' Jump Shot

    Restricted area layup (off made FT) -- make
    2:14 -- James Free Throw 2 of 2 (16 PTS) [ 52 - 47 ]
    2:08 -- Duncan 1' Layup (13 PTS) (Ginobili 6 AST)[ 54 - 47 ]

    Midrange jumper (transition, off made floater) -- miss
    0:35 -- Wade 12' Floating Jump Shot (14 PTS) [ 59 - 52 ]
    0:28 -- MISS Parker 18' Jump Shot

    Restricted area layup (off turnover) -- make (closed half)
    0:04 -- Heat Turnover: Shot Clock (T#6)
    0:04 -- SPURS Timeout: Short (Full 2 Short 1)
    0:00 -- Parker 1' Layup (11 PTS)[ 61 - 52 ]

    Of these 10 possessions, only two came off of turnovers -- only one was a live-ball steal, the other required the Spurs to inbound the ball. Three of the other eight possessions were transition opportunities off of missed shots by the Heat, including one 3-point attempt. Four of the Spurs possessions followed made shots by the Heat -- including one 3-pointer and one free throw. The other possession for the Spurs came on an offensive rebound of their own missed 3-pointer. No matter the situation, the Spurs were going to push the ball.

    Here is the full breakdown of San Antonio's shot selection looking at where and when they took their shots during Game 4.

    Shot Area1-8 Secs9-16 Secs17-24 SecTotals (zone)Lead in attempts
    Restricted7-12 (58.3%)5-6 (83.3%)1-1 (100.0%)13-19 (68.4%)1-8 sec (green)
    Paint (Non-RA)3-4 (75.0%)6-7 (85.7%)3-5 (60.0%)12-16 (75.0%)9-16 sec (yellow)
    Mid-Range0-2 (0.0%)2-4 (50.0%)6-7 (85.7%)8-13 (61.5%)17-24 sec (red)
    Corner 31-2 (50.0%)2-4 (50.0%)1-1 (100.0%)4-7 (57.1%)9-16 sec (yellow)
    Above Break 31-2 (50.0%)1-7 (14.3%)3-6 (50.0%)5-15 (33.3%)9-16 sec (yellow)
    Totals (time)12-22 (54.5%)16-28 (57.1%)14-20 (70.0%)42-70 (60.0%)

    The shot chart below shows when the Spurs took the majority of their shots in each particular zone.

  • Of San Antonio's 19 shot attempts in the restricted area, 12 of them came in the first eight seconds of the shot clock.
  • For the Spurs' 16 shots in the paint (but outside the restricted area), it was close race between the shots coming in the 1-8 second range (six attempts) and the 9-16 second range (seven attempts). We mark this zone for the 9-16 second range, but a closer look at the numbers shows that 13 of the 16 shots in the paint came in the first 16 seconds of the shot clock.
  • Most of the Spurs' mid-range attempts came late in the shot clock, with over half of their attempts coming in the 17-24 second range. And they shot it well during that time, going 6-of-7 from the mid-range with the shot clock winding down.
  • For their 3-point attempts -- both in the corners and above the break -- the Spurs shot most in the 9-16 second range, with half of their 22 attempts coming in the middle of the shot clock.
  • The shot clock operator had a relatively easy night when the Spurs had the ball in Game 5 as the clock rarely reached single digits. The Spurs were holding the turbo button for the entire game, and the Heat did not have an answer.

    As the series shifts to Miami for Game 6, the Heat must find a way to control the pace if they hope to force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Thursday.



    Game 5 By The Numbers

    June 16, 2013 -- 11:15PM

    By Brian Martin

    Fast forward to the 3:30 mark of the interview

    Charles Barkley had been reduced to a whisper when mentioning the name of one of his favorite players: Manu Ginobili.

    On the NBA TV set for the Game 5 postgame show, Barkley was finally able to let out his signature GINOBILI!!!! yell as the 35-year-old from Argentina had his best performance of the year ... by far.

    After being inserted into the staring lineup by Gregg Popovich, Ginobili responded by posting 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Spurs to a 114-104 win in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

    Oh, and don't forget about Danny Green, who shot his way into the record books with his 25th 3-pointer of The Finals, eclipsing the record previously held by Ray Allen. Green is now shooting an incredible 65.8 percent from beyond the arc in this series.

    Let's take a closer look at this and more as we dig into the numbers of Game 5.


    24
    Manu Ginobili scored 24 points after being inserted into the starting lineup by Gregg Popovich. Ginobili wasted no time in proving that Popovich made a genius move, hitting a long two-point shot (originally called a three, but later overturned) just 19 seconds into the game.

    "[Starting] didn't really affect me but making my first two shots got me going early." - Manu Ginobili

    In the first four games of The Finals, Ginobili scored a total of 30 points (7.5 per game) on 34.5% shooting from the field and 18.8% from 3-point range.

    In Game 5, Ginobili scored a season-high 24 points on 8-14 shooting (57.1%) and 1-of-4 from 3-point range (25%).

    "I knew that I was going to be more aggressive ... but I didn't expect a 24-point game." - Manu Ginobili

    Through the first four games, the Spurs were -36 with Ginobili on the floor. In Game 5, they were +19, the highest plus/minus for any Spurs player on Sunday night.


    10
    Perhaps bigger than Ginobili's 24 points were his game-high 10 assists (tied with Dwyane Wade), which accounted for nearly half of the Spurs' 21 total assists in Game 5.

    In the first four games of The Finals, Ginobili had a total of 12 assists (three per game) and seven turnovers for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.71. In Game 5, Ginobili had 10 assists with 3 turnovers for a 3.33 assist-to-turnover ratio.

    Game 5 was the first time Ginobili recorded at least 24 points and 10 assists in his playoff career. He hit those numbers just once in his career during the regular season (30 points, 12 assists on Feb. 23, 2008). The only time he ever had 20+ points and 10+ assists in the playoffs was back in 2007 against the Utah Jazz (May 20, 2007).

    According to NBA.com's John Schuhmann, the Spurs are 23-2 (7-0 in the postseason) when Ginobili has six or more assists.


    25
    Danny Green's 3-point shot chart in The Finals

    With six 3-pointers in Game 5, Danny Green broke Ray Allen's record (22, set in 2008) for most 3-pointers made in an NBA Finals series. Ironically, Allen was guarding Green during the stretch when Green broke the record.

    "The basketball gods seem to be in our favor right now."- Green on record-breaking performance

    The record-breaker came in transition with Green trailing the play and Manu Ginobili dropping off a pass to him for an open look -- one of many open looks for Green on the night.

    Green is now shooting 25-of-38 from 3-point range in The Finals -- a ridiculous 65.8 percent. He is only three 3-pointers shy of matching the 28 threes he made in the first three rounds of the playoffs combined.

    "He's been unbelievable especially on this stage... He's stepped up and answered the bell." - Tim Duncan on Green

    Green has more points (90) and threes (25) in The Finals than he did in the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined -- 81 points and 13 threes in 28 total games and 207 minutes.

    To put Green's performance in historical perspective, consider these numbers:

  • Green's 25 made 3-pointers is more than Larry Bird every hit in an entire postseason. The most Bird ever had was 23 threes in the 1986 playoffs when he shot 23-of-56 (41.1%) in 770 minutes over 18 games. Green has made 25 threes in The Finals in just 170 minutes over five games.
  • During The Finals, Green is hitting a three every 6.8 minutes that he is on the floor -- although watching the games live, it seems like it's more frequent than that.
  • Let's compare Green's numbers to a pair of all-time great long-ball shooters -- Reggie Miller and Ray Allen
  • In his postseason career, Reggie Miller hit 320 threes in 5,305 minutes over 144 games. That translates to one three every 16.6 minutes on the court.
  • Ray Allen is a little bit better, he has hit 351 threes in 5,477 minutes over 149 games, which equals one three every 15.6 minutes.
  • In his first 37 postseason games, Green has hit 74 threes in just 888 minutes. That is one every 12.0 minutes.

  • 0
    Mike Miller has started the last two games for the Miami Heat as Erik Spoelstra has gone with smaller lineups since Game 4 (Udonis Halsem has played 19 total minutes in the last two games, while Chris Andersen has two DNPs).

    In 46 minutes on the court, Miller has scored 0 points, committed 7 fouls and taken just two shots in the last two games. Miller thrived when coming off the bench in the first three games of the series, averaging 9.7 points on 90.9% shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from 3-point range.


    1
    Game 5 was the first start for Manu Ginobili this season (regular season and playoffs). He is the first player since Marcus Camby in 1999 to start a Finals game after not starting a game all season long.


    2
    While Green broke his record for 3-pointers made in an NBA Finals, Ray Allen became the first player to ever record two four-point plays in a single NBA Finals game.


    3
    Since the Finals went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, there have been eight teams that have gone home down 3-2 in the series. Only three of them went on to win the series: 1988 Lakers, 1994 Rockets and 2010 Lakers). The Heat look to become the fourth team -- and first Eastern Conference team -- to accomplish that feat by winning the final two games at home.

    "The most important game is Game 6. We can't worry about Game 7." - LeBron James

    You've got to win one before you can win two.

    The Heat are in the exact same position they were in two years ago against the Dallas Mavericks in the first Finals appearance of the Big Three era. In 2011, the Heat lost Game 6 as the Mavericks claimed the NBA title with a 4-2 series win.


    4
    The Spurs are now 4-0 all time in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

    In 1999 vs. the Knicks, the Spurs won Game 5 on the road to clinch the series 4-1 and win their first NBA title in franchise history.

    In 2003 vs the Nets, the Spurs won Game 5 on the road to go up 3-2 and won the series in six games, clinching the title at home.

    In 2005 vs the Pistons, the Spurs won Game 5 on the road to go up 3-2 and went on to win the series in seven games, again clinching the title at home.

    In 2007, San Antonio's last trip to The Finals, they did not need a Game 5 to win the title, as they swept the Cavaliers in four games.


    6
    Once again the team that lost the previous game came back to win the next game in this series. With their win tonight, the Spurs improved to 4-0 this postseason following a loss, with an average margin of victory of 18.5 points. The Heat have been even better, going 6-0 following a loss in the playoffs and winning by an average margin of 20.7 points.

    But by winning Game 1 in Miami, the Spurs can keep this W-L-W-L streak going and still win the title in seven games. The Heat, on the other hand, must now become the first team in this series to win two games in a row in order to win the championship.


    9
    Tony Parker, with the No. 9 on his jersey, went 9-for-9 in the restricted area for the Spurs in Game 5.

    Parker finished with a game-high 26 points, with 15 coming in the second half on 6-of-8 shooting. Remember in Game 4, Parker was held scoreless in the second half on 0-4 shooting while nursing his injured hamstring. The injury did not slow down the Spurs point guard in Game 5.

    Tim Duncan recorded his league-leading ninth double-double of the postseason as he finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. The nine double-doubles is the most in a single postseason for Duncan since 2008.


    20
    The Heat wasted a good game from Dwyane Wade, who followed up his 32-point performance in Game 4 with 25 points in Game 5, scoring 20+ points for the second straight game and only the fourth time in the playoffs.

    The Heat had won 10 straight games when Wade scored 20 points or more -- three in the playoffs and seven in the regular season -- dating back to Jan. 8 (vs Indiana).

    The Heat had also won 23 straight games when LeBron and Wade each scored 20+ points. That streak has been snapped as they both scored 25 points in the Game 5 loss.


    36.4
    LeBron James scored 25 points on just 8-of-22 (36.4%) shooting in Game 5, hitting just two of his final 10 field goal attempts.

    "I do put a lot of pressure on myself to force a Game 7, and I look forward to the challenge." - LeBron James

    While Ginobili and Green will get many of the headlines following Game 5 -- and rightfully so -- the unsung hero for the Spurs was Boris Diaw, who defended James very well in Game 5. James shot just 1-of-8 (12.5%) against Diaw on Sunday and went 7-of-14 (50.0%) against all other Spurs defenders.


    50
    Throughout the playoffs, points in the paint have been crucial for the Heat -- they are 10-0 this postseason when winning the points in the paint battle.

    In the Finals, Miami has averaged 48 points in the paint in their two wins and just 35.3 in their three losses. In Game 5, the Spurs outscored the Heat 50-40 in the paint.


    60
    The Spurs shot 42-of-70 (60.0%) from the field on Sunday, compared to 37-86 (43.0%) for Miami. Despite Danny Green's 6-of-10 (60%) performance from beyond the arc, the Heat actually outshot the Spurs from 3-point range -- 47.8% (11-of-23) to 40.9% (9-of-22). Ray Allen hit all four of his 3-point attempts on the night his Finals record for threes made in a Finals series was broken by Green.


    65.8
    Danny Green, 3-point shooting by game, NBA Finals
    Game3FGM-A3FG%
    Game 14-944.4%
    Game 25-5100.0%
    Game 37-977.8%
    Game 43-560.0%
    Game 56-1060.0%
    Total25-3865.8%
    Danny Green is shooting 65.8 percent (25-of-38) from 3-point range in The Finals.

    I know we mentioned this earlier in our breakdown of Green's game, but it deserves its own line.

    SIXTY-FIVE-POINT-EIGHT PERCENT!

    And remember, there's at least one more game for Green to continue to pad this record.


    70
    Since The Finals went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, the winner of Game 5 when the series was tied 2-2 has gone on to win the series 70% (7-3 all time) of the time.


    107
    San Antonio's starting unit of Parker, Ginobili, Green, Leonard, Duncan combined to score 107 of the Spurs 114 points (93.9%), while shooting 39-of-61 from the field (63.9%).

    "We can't expect to shoot that well in every game, but we just need one more." - Tim Duncan




    A Closer Look at Miami's Last 10 Games

    June 16, 2013 -- 2:15PM

    By Brian Martin

    Much of the talk leading up to Game 5 has been about Miami's need to win two straight games in order to win the 2013 NBA Finals.

    After winning Game 4, they have a chance to pick up that second win tonight in San Antonio. If they continue their recent trend of following each win with a loss over the past 10 games, then the Heat will return home down 3-2 and need to win the final two games (in a row) in Miami to defend their title.

    It's seems crazy to think that Miami would have such a difficult time putting two wins together. This is the same team that won 27 straight games earlier this season, opened the playoffs with a sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks, and after dropping Game 1 of the East Semis, won four straight again to close out the Chicago Bulls.

    But as the competition has gotten tougher in the East Finals vs Indiana and The Finals vs San Antonio, Miami's dominance has lessened dramatically.

    So what exactly has changed for the Heat in these last 10 games? We take a look at the numbers to compare Miami's play during the 27-game win streak to the first 10 games of the playoffs and the last 10 games of the playoffs to see if we can spot any trends. These trends could be indicators to watch in the final two or three games of The Finals to see if Miami can defend their title.

    27-Game Win Streak: Feb. 2 -- March 25
    First 10 Playoff Games: April 21 -- May 22 (4-0 vs Milwaukee, 4-1 vs Chicago, 1-0 vs Indiana)
    Last 10 Playoff Games: May 24 -- June 13 (3-3 vs Indiana, 2-2 vs San Antonio)


    Per Game
    Time PeriodPTSREBASTFG%3FG%FT%STLBLK+/-Diff
    27 Game Win Streak (27-0)105.337.723.850.8%40.3%76.7%9.95.4+11.9
    First 10 Games Playoffs (9-1)99.039.223.248.9%33.5%74.1%8.65.7+12.6
    Last 10 Games Playoffs (5-5)94.236.517.945.4%40.0%79.8%7.95.5+2.2

    There are five stats that stand out when looking at Miami's per-game statistics over these three time periods.

    1. Scoring: Miami's points per game has decreased by over 11 points per game from the streak to the last 10 games. The streak occurred during the regular season and included plenty of games against non-playoff teams, so we need to keep the competition level in mind when using this as a comparison point. But if we look strictly at the playoffs, the Heat have scored nearly five points less per game in the last 10 games compared to their first 10 playoffs games.

    2. Assists: The Heat ranked eighth in assists per game in the regular season (23.0) and their numbers during the streak (23.8) and the first 10 games of the playoffs (23.2) are consistent with that level of teamwork. The Heat are getting 5.1 fewer assists per game over the last 10 compared to their season average.

    3. Shooting: While Miami's 3-point percentage over the last 10 games nearly matches their shooting during the win streak, their overall shooting is down by over 5% from the streak and 3.5% from the opening 10 games of the playoffs.

    4. Steals: The Heat are at their best when they are getting steals and taking live-ball turnovers and attacking teams in transition. The 9.9 steals per game of the streak would be tough to match, but the Heat maintained their season average (8.7, 3rd in NBA) during the opening rounds of the playoffs (8.6), but those have dropped to 7.9 in the last 10 games.

    5. Plus/Minus: The Heat beat teams by an average of 11.9 points during the streak and 12.6 points early in the playoffs. That score differential has dropped by 10.4 points per game from early the playoffs to the last 10 games.


    Advanced
    Time PeriodOffRtgDefRtgNetRtgAST%AST/TOREB%PACEPIE
    27 Game Win Streak (27-0)113.199.0+14.160.7%1.7949.2%92.9659.0%
    First 10 Games Playoffs (9-1)108.294.2+13.964.1%1.5150.8%90.6360.7%
    Last 10 Games Playoffs (5-5)107.8104.0+3.851.0%1.7746.2%87.8951.9%

    The advanced metrics tell much of the same story, but there are a few items of note that either contradict or back up the per-game numbers.

    1. Offensive Efficiency: Yes, Miami is scoring 4.8 less points per game over the last 10 games compared to the first 10 of the playoffs. But their offensive efficiency is nearly identical (separated by just 0.4). The key here is that Miami is playing a slower pace over the last 10 games (87.89 possessions per 48 minutes) compared to early in the playoffs (90.63).

    2. Defensive Efficiency: With their offensive efficiency nearly the same from the start of the playoffs to now, the bigger issue for the Heat is their defense. They are allowing 104 points per 100 possessions over their last 10 games, after holding teams to 94.2 points per 100 to open the playoffs. When you see the 10.1 point drop off in net rating for the Heat, nearly all of that is coming on the defensive end.

    3. Rebounding: The Heat have not been a good rebounding team all season -- their 49.0 REB% ranked 23rd in NBA during the regular season. The streak mirrored their season-long performance on the boards. They improved slightly early in the playoffs against the Bucks and Bulls, but in the last 10 games they are grabbing just 46.2% of all available rebounds. This backs up the per-game rebounding numbers for the Heat. They are averaging just 36.5 rebounds in the last 10 games, after corralling 39.2 in the first 10 games of the postseason.

    4. Assist Rate: The per-game stats show us that the Heat are averaging 5.1 fewer assists in the last 10 games compared to the first 10 games of the playoffs. Their assist percentage shows that the drop off is a bigger problem than just playing at a slower pace and having fewer offensive possessions to work with. In the first 10 games of the playoffs, 64.1% of the Heat's baskets were assisted. That is down to just 51.0% over the past 10 games.


    Four Factors
    Time PeriodeFG%FTA RtTO RatOREB%Opp eFG%Opp FTA RtOpp TO RatOpp OREB%
    27 Game Win Streak (27-0)56.2%.31314.3%22.5%48.7%.25217.8%27.0%
    First 10 Games Playoffs (9-1)53.6%.35916.8%26.9%45.3%.32017.9%28.5%
    Last 10 Games Playoffs (5-5)50.2%.26911.6%23.1%50.1%.32917.4%30.2%

    Here are four notes on the Four Factors:

    1. Effective FG%: The Heat led the league with a 55.2 eFG% during the regular season. They were even better during the 27-game win streak (56.2%) and had a slight drop off at the start of the playoffs (53.6%). But that number has dropped to 50.2% over the past 10 games. But the bigger picture on eFG% has to do with the margin between what the Heat shoot themselves compared to what they allow from their opponents. During the streak, the difference was 7.5% (56.2%-48.7%) in favor of the Heat. The disparity grew to 8.3% during the first 10 games of the playoffs, due mostly to the Heat holding their opponent's to 45.3 eFG%. Over the past 10 games, the margin is down to 0.1% in favor of the Heat (50.2%-50.1%).

    2. Free Throw Rate: Similar to eFG%, the separation between the Heat and their opponents in getting to the free throw line has been key to their success. Over the past 10 games, their opponent's FTA rate (free throws attempted relative to field goals attempted) has been higher than Miami's (0.329 to 0.269). The Heat had held the edge in FTA rate during the regular season, the streak and the opening rounds of the playoffs.

    3. TO Ratio: A good sign for the Heat, they are turning the ball over at a lesser rate over the past 10 games (11.6%) compared to the streak (14.3%) and the first 10 games of the playoffs (16.8%). Their regular season mark of 15.0% was eighth best in the league. Their 11.6% rate would rank first during the regular season. On the opponent side, the Heat have consistently turned over over their opponents at a high rate. That has continued over the last 10 games (17.4%), with the exception of San Antonio's brilliant Game 1 (4 TOs as a team).

    4. Offensive Rebound Rate: Again, no one expects the Heat to rule the boards. If they can stay relatively close, that is a win for Miami. Their 23.1% offensive rebound rate over the past 10 games is actually nearly a percentage higher than their mark during the regular season (22.2%). The key here is to see how high their opponent offensive rebound rate has climbed -- it is up to 30.2% during the last 10 games, which is allowing more opportunities for opponents to score second-chance points (more on this coming up).


    Misc (Per Game)
    Time PeriodPts Off TO2nd PtsFBPsPITPOpp Pts Off TOOpp 2nd PtsOpp FBPsOpp PITP
    27 Game Win Streak (27-0)19.910.511.942.415.513.712.339.9
    First 10 Games Playoffs (9-1)19.314.812.242.616.213.28.535.8
    Last 10 Games Playoffs (5-5)17.911.310.837.210.914.88.038.8

    Let's finish our comparison with a look at some miscellaneous stats that have proved to be key indicators of success for Miami throughout the playoffs.

    1. Points Off Turnovers: As we discussed earlier, the Heat are phenomenal when they are able to turn teams over and score in transition. Only two teams (Denver, LA Clippers) scored more points off turnovers during the regular season than the Heat (18.6 per game). They have stayed close to that number during the playoffs, but are down 1.4 points in the last 10 games compared to the first 10. But the biggest difference has come on the defensive end. With their own turnovers down, the Heat have allowed just 10.9 points off turnovers in the last 10 games. As a point of comparison, the New York Knicks led the league by allowing just 13.5 points off turnovers in the regular season.

    2. Second-Chance Points: The Heat are not a strong offensive rebounding team, so their second-chance points are going to be limited. Their 11.3 second-chance points over the past 10 games is better than their regular season average (10.4). But as we discussed in the Four Factors, the Heat are allowing their opponents to grab 30.2% of all available offensive rebounds over the past 10 games. That has led to in increase in second-chance points that they are allowing (14.8). This mark is similar to their season average (14.7), but higher than what they had done during the streak (13.7) and the first 10 games of the playoffs (13.2).

    3. Fast Break Points: The Heat hold a 2.8-point advantage over their opponents in fast-break points during the last 10 games. That is down from their 3.7-point advantage in the first 10 games. The Heat were even with their opponents (11.9) during the regular season and were actually down 0.4 points during the win streak.

    4. Points in the Paint: When the Heat hold an advantage in points in the paint, they are nearly unbeatable (10-0 in the playoffs). But over the past 10 games, scoring points in the paint has become more difficult for the Heat as they are down by 5.4 points compared to the first 10 games of the playoffs. Playing against frontline combos like Roy Hibbert/David West and Tim Duncan/Tiago Splitter will do that to you. The Heat are also allowing 3.0 more points in the paint per game over the past 10 games. Their margin has gone from plus-6.8 to minus-1.6 in the points in the paint battle.



    Game 4 By The Numbers

    June 13, 2013 -- 11:55PM

    By Brian Martin

    The Miami Heat have evened the NBA Finals at 2-2 after a 109-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 on Thursday. The win was punctuated by a "Flash"back performance from Dwyane Wade as well as strong performances by the other members of Miami's Big Three as the trio combined to score 85 of the Heat's 109 points.

    Let's take a look at Miami's win by the numbers.

    32
    Dwyane Wade scored 32 points in Game 4 after scoring a combined 43 points in the first three games of the Finals.

    "D-Wade went back in his bag today. He was Flash tonight. We needed every bit of it." -- LeBron James

    The 32-point performance was by far Wade's best game of the playoffs -- he had 21 points twice in 19 games this postseason. The last time Wade scored 30+ points in a game was over three months ago when he had 32 points in a road win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 4.

    This was the 32nd time Wade has scored 30+ points in the playoffs in his career.

    To open the game the Spurs had Tiago Splitter guarding Wade. That lasted just 47 seconds before Splitter was pulled from the game. To open the second half, the Spurs had Boris Diaw guarding Wade. Doubt we'll see those matchups again in Game 5.

    "The team needed one from me today. It was about time I showed up." - Dwyane Wade


    30-5-5
    Wade became just the fifth player in NBA Finals history with at least 30 points, five rebounds and five steals in NBA Finals game. He joined some elite company:

    YearPlayerTeamPTS-REB-STL
    2013Dwyane WadeHeat32-6-6
    2001Allen Iverson76ers48-5-5
    1993Michael JordanBulls31-7-5
    1991Scottie PippenBulls32-13-5
    1982Julius Erving76ers30-8-5
    Pippen was the only player to post those numbers along with a double-double
    No player from Western Conference has posted those numbers in the Finals


    18
    Entering the game, Wade had averaged 11.7 points on 60 percent shooting in the first half and just 2.7 points on 22.2 percent shooting in the second half. In Game 4, Wade was equally brilliant in both halves -- posting 14 points on 6-of-11 (54.5%) shooting in the first half and 18 points on 8-of-14 (57.1%) shooting.


    10
    Dwyane Wade scored 10 points with LeBron James off the floor (7 minutes)

    Wade with and without LeBron

    LeBron On/OffMINFGM-AFG%PTSREBASTTOVSTLBLK+/-
    LeBron ON339-1850.0%2242030-3
    LeBron OFF75-771.4%1022031+8

    Early in the fourth quarter (9:34 to play), the Heat led by seven points (86-79) when LeBron James went to the bench. James returned with 6:04 to play in the game and the Heat had stretched the lead to 11 points (96-85) with him on the bench.

    During that three-and-a-half minute stretch, Wade had six points, three steals, one rebound and one assist. The Heat never led by fewer than 12 points the rest of the game.


    33
    LeBron James scored an NBA Finals career-high 33 points in Game 4. James didn't score his first basket until 6:32 remained in the first quarter. But after getting a pair of layups to get him started, James had his best shooting night of the series, going 15-of-25 (60.0%), his best percentage since Game 2 of the East Finals against Indiana and the most field goals he has made in this year's playoffs.

    James' 33 points in Game 4 were more than his total in Game 2 (17) and Game 3 (15) combined. James entered Game 4 averaging just 16.7 points in this series. He nearly doubled that average in Game 4.

    After struggling with his outside shot throughout the Finals, James scored 17 of his 33 points from outside the paint in Game 4.

    In the first three games of the Finals, LeBron was shooting 21-of-54 (38.9%) overall and 7-of-30 (23.3%) from outside of the paint, including 4-of-17 (23.5%) on mid-range shots.

    In Game 4, LeBron shot 15-of-25 (60.0%) overall and 8-of-12 (66.7%) from outside the paint, including 7-of-10 (70%) on mid-range shots.


    85
    The Miami Big Three of LeBron James (33), Dwyane Wade (32) and Chris Bosh (20) combined to score 85 points in Game 4. After being held to a combined 43 points in Game 3, the trio nearly doubled their output on Thursday.

    PlayerGames 1-3Game 4
    LeBron James21-54 (38.9%)15-25 (60.0%)
    Dwyane Wade19-43 (44.2%)14-25 (56.0%)
    Chris Bosh16-36 (44.4%)8-14 (57.1%)
    Total56-133 (42.1%)37-64 (57.8%)

    After the entire Heat team combined to score just 77 points in Game 3, the Big Three alone scored 85 points in Game 4. They came just eight points shy of matching the Spurs' Game 4 total of 93 points on Thursday.

    The Big Three's 85 points were 78.0% of Miami's 109 total points. Their 30 combined rebounds were 73.2% of the team's 41 total rebounds.

    The Heat improve to 30-5 in the Big Three era when each member of the Big Three scores 20 points or more.

    Before tonight, the last time that happened was on Mar. 15 against the Milwaukee Bucks when James and Bosh each scored 28 points and Wade added 20.

    The last time that James and Wade each had at least 30 points in the same game was on Feb. 26 against the Sacramento Kings when James scored 40 points and Wade added 39.

    "When Bosh, Wade and James score like that...it's hard to beat them." - Gregg Popovich
    "When all three of us are clicking at the same time, we're a very tough team to beat." - LeBron James

    It looks like everyone is in agreement here, let's move on.


    44
    The Big Three combined to score 44 of the Heat's 50 points in the paint, with their guard (6-foot-4 Wade) outscoring their forwards (6-8 James and 6-11 Bosh) on the inside, while the bigs took care of the outside scoring.

    Wade accounted for 20 points in the paint on 10-of-12 (83.3%) shooting. He shot just 4-of-13 (30.8%) outside the paint, all on mid-range shots.

    James accounted for 14 points in the paint on 7-of-13 (53.8%) shooting. He shot 8-of-12 (66.7%) from outside the paint.

    Bosh scored the other 10 points in the paint on 5-of-7 (71.4%) shooting. He shot 3-of-7 (42.9%) outside the paint, all on mid-range jumpers.

    Big Three Scoring By Zone

    Scoring ZoneShooting (FG%)Points
    Restricted Area18-of-26 (69.2%)36
    In the Paint (Non-RA)4-of-6 (66.7%)8
    In the Paint (total)22-of-32 (68.8%)44
    Mid-Range14-of-30 (46.7%)28
    3-Pointers1-of-2 (50%)3

    The Big Three had their largest scoring output of the playoffs while only taking a combined two 3-point shots (both by James).


    30
    LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each scored over 30 points in Game 4. In the first three games of the Finals, the Heat did not have a single player reach the 20-point plateau. They had three break 20 points in Game 4 and two eclipse 30.


    3
    Chris Bosh had his third consecutive double-double in the 2013 Finals after having just two double-doubles in the first three rounds combined.

    Bosh picked a great time to have his best game of the series, posting 20 points, 13 rebounds, two steals and two blocks on Thursday. Bosh was active on the defensive end, blocking a pair of shots in the third quarter when the Heat pulled away from the Spurs.

    With 3:55 to play, the Heat up by 15 points and Gregg Popovich's bench players waiting to check in at the scorer's table to signify the raising of the white flag, Bosh deflected a post entry pass intended for Tim Duncan and as the ball is headed toward the sideline right in front of the Heat bench, Bosh dove to the floor, corralled the ball and called timeout.

    The game was no longer in doubt, but this play symbolized the effort that Bosh put into Game 4, particularly on the defensive end. As the referee signaled the timeout for the Heat, the Miami bench erupted to cheer on Bosh's effort.

    "The biggest change for us came on the defensive end. We came out with more pressure." - Dwyane Wade


    26
    After going down by 10 points in the first five minutes of the game (Spurs jumped out to a 15-5 lead with 7:10 to play in the first quarter), the Heat outscored the Spurs by 26 points (104-78) in the final 43 minutes of the game.


    6
    The Heat are 6-0 in this year's playoffs following a loss, with an average margin of victory is 20.7 points in those games.

    "We can't wait until our backs are against the wall every time to respond. We have to build some momentum." - LeBron James

    The Heat have now won 12 straight games following a loss. The last time they lost back-to-back games was Jan. 8-10.


    7
    The Heat defense blocked seven shots in Game 4, with five different players recording a block -- Bosh and James had two apiece.

    Four blocks came in the third quarter during a stretch that saw a tie game (58-58 with 7:19 to play) jump to an eight-point lead (74-66 with 2:57 to play) for Miami.


    13
    The Heat recorded 13 steals in Game 4, including six by Dwyane Wade, just one shy of the NBA Finals record of seven set by Robert Horry (Houston at Orlando, June 9, 1995).

    The other players with six steals in a Finals game: John Havlicek ('74), Steve Mix ('77), Maurice Cheeks ('80), Isiah Thomas ('88) and Rajon Rondo ('08)


    19
    The Spurs committed 19 turnovers in Game 4, which led to 23 points for the Heat.

    The Heat committed just nine turnovers, leading to eight points for the Spurs.

    The Heat's 15-point edge in points off turnovers (23-8) accounts for nearly the entire 16-point margin of victory for the Heat in Game 4.


    0
    Tony Parker was held to zero points in the second half on 0-of-4 shooting, after scoring 15 points on 7-of-12 in the first half while looking good despite nursing a strained hamstring suffered in Game 3.

    "It was kind of weak. I didn't know what to expect. So the first three, four minutes I was testing it, and the first half it felt okay. And the second half I think I got fatigued a little bit. But overall I'm just happy I didn't make it worse." - Tony Parker

    "Miami did a great job on [Tony Parker in the second half]. They doubled and got the ball out of his hands." - Gregg Popovich


    35
    After combining to score 65 points in San Antonio's Game 3 blowout, Danny Green (10), Gary Neal (13) and Kawhi Leonard (12) combined to score just 35 points in Game 4.


    67.9
    San Antonio's Danny Green continues to shoot the lights out from beyond the arc. He went 3-of-5 in Game 4 to improve to 19-of-28 (67.9%) from 3-point range in the Finals.


    5
    Manu Ginobili was held to just five points in Game 4, the second time he has been held to five points in this series (Game 2).

    Ginobili has only had two worst scoring performances in the Finals during his 11-year NBA career -- three points (May 12, 2007 vs Cleveland) and four points (June 6, 2003 vs New Jersey).

    He hit his only field goal of the game with 2:27 remaining in the game and the outcome well decided. Giniobil's plus/minus was a team-worst minus-22 in just under 26 minutes on the floor.

    Ginobili has failed to score in double-figures in seven of his last nine games.


    50
    The Heat outscored the Spurs 50-38 in the paint in Game 4. The 50 points in the paint is the largest total for the Heat in this series.

    In their two losses in the Finals (Games 1 and 3), the Heat have scored just 34 and 32 points in the paint, respectively.

    In their two wins in the Finals (Games 2 and 4), the Heat have scored 46 and 50 points in the paint, respectively

    They have averaged 48 points in the paint in their wins and 33 in their losses.


    14
    The Heat held the edge in fast-break points 14-6 in Game 4.


    1,149
    The number of miles by air from San Antonio, Texas to Miami, Florida. The Heat's Game 4 win guarantees there is going to be at least a Game 6 (and possibly a Game 7) back in South Florida.



    How Chris Bosh's Shot Distribution Impacts the Heat

    June 13, 2013 -- 5:00PM

    By Jay Cipoletti

    Do teams lose because they take worse shots, or do teams take worse shots when they are losing?

    A look at Chris Bosh's shot distribution and shooting percentages in the Heat's playoff wins and losses this year would seem to suggest a strong correlation in the former. Whether or not there is a strong causation is open to debate.

    In the regular season, it would have been tough to discern a game's outcome simply by looking at Bosh's shot distribution pattern.

    He actually took a greater percentage of shots at and around the rim in the Heat's 16 regular season losses than he did in their 66 wins. The Heat as a team led the league in 0-8FT FG% at 63.4%; Bosh shot 66.1% in that zone in their wins, 67.4% in their losses. Safe to conclude neither his shot frequency nor his make rate from that high percentage zone had an impact on the outcome in the regular season.

    The playoffs have presented a different story. Through 19 playoff games Bosh has maintained a shot volume, in both wins (10.2) and losses (10.7) , consistent with his 10.4 shots per game in Miami's regular season wins. He averaged 13.3 shots per game in their regular season losses.

    The discrepancy, then, is not in the frequency of his shots but in their location. When the Heat have won in the postseason, playoff Chris Bosh has closely resembled regular season Chris Bosh, save for his increase in 3pt attempts. In the 13 Heat playoff victories, Bosh has taken 14.3% of his shots from behind the arc, well above the 8.5% distribution during the regular season. That increase has benefited Miami due to Bosh's 52.6% make rate.

    However, in their 6 playoff losses, Bosh's shot distribution pattern is much different. He is taking a full 25% of his shots from 3pt range, making only 31.3% of them. He is also taking more shots from the low percentage "cradle" , the 16-24FT arc just inside the 3pt line. In Miami's wins he is making a respectable 42.9% from the cradle; in losses that drops to 33.3%.

    Which shots are being sacrificed? Those high percentage shots around the rim. Whereas in their playoff wins Bosh is taking 35.3% of his shots in the 0-8FT zone, making 55.3% of them, in their losses he is only getting 21.9% in that zone and making only 42.9% of them.

    To put it in perspective, the 6'11 Bosh has taken two more shots from 3 than he has attempted from point blank range in Miami's 6 playoff losses.

    Much of the talk since Game 3 has been about the Spurs effectively making LeBron a jump shooter and distributor. It would appear that taking away Chris Bosh at the rim and turning him into a jump shooter is just as important for the Spurs to prevail in the Finals.



    Hot Starts, Cool Finishes For Dwyane Wade

    June 13, 2013 -- 4:00PM

    By Brian Martin

    During the first three games of the NBA Finals, LeBron James has made it a point to set up his teammates -- especially Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- early in the game.

    Wade's shots attempts are at their peak in the first quarter (averaging 4.3 per game) and steadily decline throughout the game (4.0 in the second, 3.3 in the third and 2.7 in the fourth).

    Wade, who has been playing with a bone bruise in his right knee since March and has re-aggravated the injury throughout the playoffs, is clearly not the same explosive player that he was most of the regular season and throughout his career.

    "It's only once you get out on the court and you figure it out," said Wade earlier in the series. "A couple of nights I got out before the game, I thought oh yeah, this is my night. I got out there and it was oh no, it's not. It's one of those things, like I said, it's from quarter to quarter.

    "But that's nothing. You're on the basketball court, you have to do whatever you have to do. You have to make some kind of positive impact while you're on the basketball floor. If you can't make a positive impact, then you need to sit down.

    "So when I'm out there, some moments I'm scoring, some moments I'm rebounding, some moments I'm doing other things on the basketball floor to try to make a positive impact to give ourselves a chance to win the ballgame. And that's all you can do."

    NBA Finals

    PeriodMINPTSFG%FGAASTSTL+/-
    First Half18.011.760.0%8.33.71.3-1.0
    Second Half15.02.722.2%6.00.70.3-11.0

    Through the first three games of the Finals, Wade's been at his best early in the game, posting solid numbers in the first half -- 11.7 points on 60.0% shooting, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals.

    But the second half has been a different story as his numbers drop off dramatically -- 2.7 points on 22.2% shooting, 0.7 assists and 0.3 steals.

    The injured knee, fatigue and limited fourth-quarter minutes (5.6 minutes per game in the fourth, thanks in part to blowouts in the last two games) have all played a role in this decline in production.

    During the regular season, Wade was consistent from half to half, posting nearly identical scoring and shooting numbers.

    Regular Season

    PeriodMINPTSFG%FGAASTSTL+/-
    First Half17.110.852.2%8.12.80.8+3.2
    Second Half17.010.152.1%7.62.30.9+4.5

    Since the playoffs began, we've seen Wade's production shift toward one half of standard Wade production and one half of subpar Wade production. Through the first three rounds, it was the second half that saw Wade at his best, but since the Finals opened, that has shifted to the opening half.

    1st Three Rounds

    PeriodMINPTSFG%FGAASTSTL+/-
    First Half18.06.139.4%6.32.70.9+3.5
    Second Half16.87.948.9%6.32.10.8+2.7

    Whether Wade can give the Heat a full Dwyane Wade game remains to be seen. If it is possible, Game 4 would be a great time to break it out for Miami's sake.



    Game 3 By The Numbers

    June 11, 2013 -- 11:30PM

    By Brian Martin

    It's safe to say that zero people saw Game 3 playing out like this.

    Just two days ago, the San Antonio Spurs were blown off the court at the hands of the Miami Heat with a 33-5 run in the second half of Game 2 and a 19-point loss.

    On Tuesday, the Spurs turned the tables on the Heat, blowing the defending champs out in the second half, 63-33, on their way to a 36-point win, the third largest in NBA Finals history.

    So the Spurs' Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobil dominated the Heat's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, right? Wrong. The Spurs' trio behind this win was comprised of Danny Green, Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard.

    Let's break it all down with our number of Game 3.


    16
    The Spurs hit 16 3-pointers in Game 3, setting a new NBA Finals record for 3-pointers made in a game, eclipsing the old mark of 14. The Spurs' 3-point barrage was led by Danny Green (7 threes) and Gary Neal (6 threes).


    24
    Gary Neal picked a perfect time to have the game of his life. Neal entered the game with a playoff career-high of 14 points (his regular season career-high is 29 points, set in December at Houston). He finished with 24 points in Game 3 on 9-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, in 25 minutes off the bench.

    "As a professional, it's your job to stay ready. You never know when your number will be called," said Neal.

    Neal came in and looked for his shot early and often. Perhaps his biggest shot of the night was the 3-pointer that just beat the buzzer to end the first half. The Spurs squandered an 11-point first half lead in less than three minutes as the Heat used a 12-1 run to tie the game at 44 with 37.8 seconds to play in the second quarter.

    After a 3-point shot by Tony Parker put the Spurs up three, Danny Green blocked LeBron's 12-foot jumper with 4.9 seconds to play, Duncan grabbed the rebound, threw a quick outlet pass to Parker just behind the half-court line, who saw Neal streaking up the left side. Neal got a pass from Parker with just under two seconds left, he set his feet and let a 25-foot 3-pointer fly that found the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded. That gave Neal a game-high 14 points at the half and the Spurs a six-point lead that they quickly built on coming out of the locker room.


    27
    While Neal owned the first half, it was Danny Green that stole the show in the second half, as the Spurs blew the game wide open thanks to Green's 3-point shooting. Green had just five points (2-of-5 shooting, including one 3-pointer) in the first half, but scored 22 points in under 14 minutes in the second half before the benches were emptied.

    Green finished with a playoff career-high 27 points (his regular season career-high is 28, set in February at Minnesota) on Tuesday night and continued to scorch the nets from beyond the arc. In Game 3, Green connected on 7-of-9 from 3-point range. When you combine that with his 5-of-5 performance in Game 2, Green has hit 12 of his last 14 threes in this series.

    "He's a pretty confident young man right now," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

    Green has made 16 3-pointers in this series, which is a Spurs record for most made threes in an NBA Finals series. He set the record in just three games. Green is not only the Spurs' leading scorer in the Finals (18.7 points per game), he is the leading scorer in the entire Finals, besting LeBron James (16.7), Dwyane Wade (14.3), Tim Duncan (13.7) and Gary Neal (13.7).

    Through three games, Green is shooting an incredible 16-of-23 from 3-point range (69.6%).


    25-43-65
    The Spurs' Big Three of Tim Duncan (12), Tony Parker (6) and Manu Ginobil (7) combined to score 25 points in Game 3.

    The Heat's Big Three of LeBron James (15), Dwyane Wade (16) and Chris Bosh (12) combined to score 43 points.

    The Spurs' unlikely Big Three of Danny Green (27), Gary Neal (24) and Kawhi Leonard (14) combined to score 65 points.

    Through three games of the Finals, the Heat Big Three has combined to score 130 points. The exact same amount as the Spurs' other Big Three of Green, Neal and Leonard.


    36
    The 36-point margin of victory is the third-largest by any team in NBA Finals history. Only the 1998 Chicago Bulls (42-point win in Game 3 vs Utah in 1998) and the 2008 Boston Celtics (39-point win in Game 6 vs LA Lakers) have larger wins in the Finals. The 36-point loss is also the largest postseason loss in Miami Heat franchise history.

    The Spurs led by as many as 37 in this wire-to-wire victory. The Heat never led, and only tied the game twice.

    The largest NBA Finals loss by a team that went on to win the title was 34 points, by the 1985 LA Lakers against the Boston Celtics. If the Heat are to come back and win this series, they would set a new mark for the largest single-game loss overcome in a Finals series.


    29
    The Spurs finished with 29 assists on 43 made baskets, which accounted for 70 points.
    17 2PT FGM, out of 27 total (63% AST) = 34 points
    12 3PT FGM, out of 16 total (75% AST) = 36 points


    12
    Kawhi Leonard is averaging 12.0 rebounds per game in the Finals, third among all players behind only Tim Duncan (13.0) and LeBron James (12.3). Duncan and Leonard are tied for the lead in offensive rebounds (4.3), with the closest Heat player being Chris Bosh at 2.3 per game.

    Leonard's 12.0 rebound average in the Finals doubles his regular season average of 6.0. He is averaging 8.7 rebounds per game for the playoffs with the Finals being his best showing by far:
    7.3: opening round vs. LA Lakers
    9.2: Conference Semifinals vs. Golden State
    7.0: Conference Finals vs. Memphis
    12.0: Finals vs Miami


    4-5
    The Miami Heat are 4-5 in their last 9 games.

    They had gone 46-3 in the 49 games before that, a stretch that included a 37-2 run to close the season (inclusive of the incredible 27-game win streak) and a 9-1 run to open up the postseason.

    Don't forget that the Heat have not lost back-to-back games since Jan 8-10. In the playoffs they have responded to losses with impressive wins by:
    37 points: Game 2 vs Chicago, East Semis
    18 points: Game 3 vs Indiana, East Finals
    11 points: Game 5 vs Indiana, East Finals
    23 points: Game 7 vs Indiana, East Finals
    19 points: Game 2 vs San Antonio, NBA Finals

    That's a margin of 108 points in five games, an average margin of victory of 21.6 points.


    5-5
    The one bright spot for the Heat on Tuesday was the shooting of Mike Miller, who went 5-for-5 on the night, all from 3-point range. If you think Danny Green has been on fire from 3-point range (69.6%) in the Finals, what about Miller, who is 9-10 (90%) from beyond the arc in this series.


    2
    LeBron James made only 2-of-14 shots taken outside of the paint in Game 3. He finished with 15 points on the night, padded by a nine-point flurry in the final 96 seconds of the third quarter. That nine-point spurt coincided with Kawhi Leonard going to the bench for San Antonio.

    Dwyane Wade made just 1-of-8 shots taken outside the paint. As a team, the Heat shot 16-of-26 (61.5%) in the paint and 15-of-50 (30.0%) outside the paint.


    0
    LeBron James attempted zero free throws in Game 3. The last time he was held without a free throw attempt in any game was over three years ago, when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers (Dec. 2, 2009 vs Phoenix). James was held without a free throw attempt in only one other playoff game, again when he was in Cleveland (May 21, 2007 vs Detroit).


    -32
    LeBron James' minus-32 is the worst plus/minus of any game of his career -- regular season or postseason -- a total of 899 games.

    "I gotta play better," said James. "I can't play like that and expect us to win."

    James' previous worst was a minus-30, which came on April 1, 2012 in a regular season loss to the Boston Celtics (91-72 home win for Boston over Miami).

    His worst playoff plus/minus prior to Tuesday was a minus-24, which he did twice -- June 12, 2011 against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals (105-95 road win for Dallas over Miami) and on April 24, 2008 against the Washington Wizards (108-72 home win for Washington over Cleveland).


    4
    The number of times Erik Spoelstra said, "We got what we deserved" during his post-game press conference.


    1
    One MRI that will be performed on Tony Parker on Wednesday on his injured right hamstring, which forced him to miss the final five minutes of the third quarter. He returned briefly to open the fourth quarter, but with the game in hand, Popovich got him off the floor quickly. An injury to Parker could turn this series quickly.


    100
    Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili picked up their 100th postseason win as a trio, which is second all-time to the Lakers' trio of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper with 110, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.



    All Tied Up

    June 11, 2013 -- 2:40PM

    By Brian Martin

    For the 14th time since the Finals went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, the series is tied 1-1 heading into Game 3.

    In the 13 previous series, the home team (lower seed in the 2-3-2 format) has gone 4-9 in Game 3, with 12 of the 13 Game 3 winners going on to win the NBA title.

    FINALS SERIES TIED 1-1 SINCE 1985

    YearFinals MatchupGame 3 ResultGame 3 Winner's LocationSeries Result
    1985BOS vs LALLAL W, 136-111HomeLAL W, 4-2
    1988LAL vs DETLAL W, 99-86RoadLAL W, 4-3
    1990DET vs PORDET W, 121-106RoadDET W, 4-1
    1991CHI vs LALCHI W, 104-96RoadCHI W, 4-1
    1992CHI vs PORCHI W, 94-84RoadCHI W, 4-2
    1994HOU vs NYKHOU W, 93-89RoadHOU W, 4-3
    1998UTA vs CHICHI W, 96-54HomeCHI W, 4-2
    2001LAL vs PHILAL W, 96-91RoadLAL W, 4-1
    2003SAN vs NJNSAN W, 84-79RoadSAN W, 4-2
    2004LAL vs DETDET W, 88-68HomeDET W, 4-1
    2010LAL vs BOSLAL W, 91-84RoadLAL W, 4-3
    2011MIA vs DALMIA W, 98-96RoadMIA L, 4-2*
    2012OKC vs MIAMIA W, 91-85HomeMIA W, 4-2
    2013MIA vs SAN??

    *only time winner of Game 3 did not go on to win title
    road=higher seed, home=lower seed

    Miami Heat

    The one exception to the "winner of Game 3 in a tie series goes on to win the title" rule is the 2011 Miami Heat, a team that featured many of the same players on this year's Heat squad (the starting five of LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Haslem and Chalmers; along with reserves Miller, Anthony, Jones and Howard). After winning Game 3, the Heat would lose the next three games to the Dallas Mavericks, who clinched the title in six games.

    YearGame 3 ResultLocationSeries Before Game 3Series Result
    2006W, 98-96 vs DallasHome0-2 before Game 3Won in six
    2011W, 88-76 vs DallasRoad1-1 before Game 3Lost in six
    2012W, 91-85 vs Oklahoma CityHome1-1 before Game 3Won in five
    2013??


    The Miami Heat are 3-0 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals in their franchise history, with two of them coming with the series tied 1-1 (2011, 2012) and another when they were down 0-2 (2006). This is the third consecutive Finals for the Heat and the third consecutive Game 3 with the series tied at 1-1. The Heat are 2-0 in these situations, including a win as the road team (higher seed, 2011) and home team (lower seed, 2012).

    San Antonio Spurs

    While the Heat have been in this situation the past two years, the Spurs have not been a Finals that was tied 1-1 since 2003, when they faced the New Jersey Nets. After splitting the first two games at home, the Spurs won Game 3 on the road and would go on to win the title in six games.

    The Spurs are 2-2 all-time in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

    YearGame 3 ResultLocationSeries Before Game 3Series Result
    1999L, 89-81 vs New YorkRoad2-0 before Game 3Won in five
    2003W, 84-79 vs New JerseyRoad1-1 before Game 3Won in six
    2005L, 96-79 vs DetroitRoad2-0 before Game 3Won in seven
    2007W, 75-72 vs ClevelandRoad2-0 before Game 3Won in four
    2013??


    It's been a decade since the Spurs last faced a 1-1 tie in the Finals -- they held 2-0 leads in their other three Finals appearances prior to this season -- and they have never hosted a Game 3 of the Finals. This is the first time in five Finals appearances that the Spurs are not the team with the superior regular-season record and thus holding home-court advantage in the Finals. By winning Game 1 against the Heat on the road, the Spurs stole home-court advantage and have a chance to win the title without returning to Miami, if they can sweep their home games.

    Only three times has the home team swept the middle three games in the 2-3-2 format -- and two of them are the Miami Heat (2006 vs Dallas, 2012 vs Oklahoma City), along with the Detroit Pistons (2004 vs Lakers). If the Spurs can repeat this feat, they can win the title at home.

    There have also been three times that the road team has swept the middle three games -- the last being the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers against the Philadelphia 76ers. Before that, you have to go back to 1991 (Bulls vs Lakers) and 1990 (Pistons vs Blazers) for the road sweep. In each of these three occasions the series was tied at 1-1 heading into Game 3, with the higher-seeded team sweeping the middle three games on the road and winning the series in five games -- something the Heat would like to emulate this year.

    More notes after searching through the history of the Finals in the 2-3-2 format

  • This is the fourth consecutive year that the Finals has been tied at 1-1 after two games, the most consecutive years since the 2-3-2 format began in 1985.
  • There have been four sweeps in the Finals since 1985, so the final game of the middle three was not necessary:
  • 1989: Detroit vs LA Lakers
  • 1995: Houston vs Orlando
  • 2002: LA Lakers vs New Jersey
  • 2007: San Antonio vs Cleveland
  • Of the four sweeps, only the Houston Rockets in 1995 did so as the lower-seeded team, winning the first two games on the road and clinching the title at home in Game 4. The Rockets (47-35) won 10 fewer regular-season games than the Magic (57-25), but dominated the matchup in the Finals.
  • There have been four Finals where the home team won only one game:
  • 1990: Detroit vs Portland, Game 1 (Detroit)
  • 1991: Chicago vs LA Lakers, Game 2 (Chicago)
  • 1993: Phoenix vs Chicago, Game 4 (Chicago)
  • 2001: LA Lakers vs Philadelphia, Game 2 (LA Lakers)


  • Bringing the Lettuce

    June 10, 2013 -- 6:00PM

    By Brian Martin

    As the Miami Heat were in the middle of their 33-5 run to break open Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Lakers forward Metta World Peace sent out the following tweet:

    In case you need an interpretation, Metta provided that shortly thereafter:

    Whatever word you use to describe it, the Miami Heat bench was critical to their success in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. The trio of Mike Miller, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen played the majority of the 33-5 run that put the Spurs away on Sunday night. But it wasn't just that stretch; the Heat bench outscored the Spurs 40-32 for the game. Of course that included the last seven minutes when both teams emptied their benches with the game decided.

    To really look at the impact of the bench in Game 2, we need to look at their production from the opening tip to the end of the Heat run that forced Gregg Popovich to throw up the white flag with 7:43 to play. And thanks to our box score functionality on NBA.com/Stats, we can do that.

    Game 2 -- Start of Game until San Antonio emptied bench (7:43, 4th Quarter)

    HeatMINFGM-AFG%3FGM-A3FG%FTM-AFT%PTSREBASTTOSTLBLK+/-
    Mike Miller15:573-3100%3-3100%0-00%901010+22
    Ray Allen22:114-666.7%3-475.0%0-00%1110000+26
    Chris Andersen14:193-3100%0-00%3-475%940111+12
    Norris Cole7:401-333.3%0-10%0-00%211000-5
    Total60:0711-1573.3%6-875%3-475%3162121+55

    SpursMINFGM-AFG%3FGM-A3FG%FTM-AFT%PTSREBASTTOSTLBLK+/-
    Manu Ginobili17:522-633.3%1-425%0-00%521310-23
    Boris Diaw10:580-00%0-00%0-00%002000-3
    Gary Neal21:523-742.9%2-366.7%2-2100%1020300-28
    Cory Joseph1:220-00%0-00%0-00%000000+7
    Total52:045-1338.5%3-742.9%2-2100%1543610-47

    In the first 40:17 of the game, the Heat bench outscored the Spurs 31-15. That's a 16-point margin in a game that ended up being decided by 19 points.

    Heat coach Erik Spoelstra used his bench players longer (by eight minutes) thanks in large part to the efficient production that he was getting from the likes of Miller, Allen and Andersen. Norris Cole was the only player that struggled off the bench for the Heat (2 points, 1-of-3 FG, -5 in just under eight minutes). The group shot 11-15 (73.3%) from the floor and 6-of-8 (75%) from 3-point range.

    The Heat reserves also held a significant edge in turnovers, committing just one in 60 combined minutes, compared to six for the Spurs reserves in 52 minutes. Miami's bench made shots (Miller and Allen each made three 3-pointers), made hustle plays (Andersen with four rebounds in 14 minutes) and didn't make mistakes (one turnover combined).

    Games 1 (18 points) and 2 (17 points) saw LeBron James post his lowest point totals of the playoffs this year. He has just 33 shot attempts in the first two games of the Finals as the focus of the Spurs defense has been to get the ball out of his hands and force someone else to beat them. James is a facilitator by nature and when faced with double and triple teams by the Spurs defense, he has made the unselfish play and found a teammate for an open shot. He trusts that his teammates will make those shots. And thus far, they have.

    It's easy to see why Popovich and the Spurs came into this series with the mentality to stop James and force others to make shots. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat role players struggled, thanks to a combination of the Pacers' stout defense and tremendous cold streaks by Allen and Shane Battier. While Andersen was a bright spot on the inside, the Heat's outside shooting abandoned them until Game 7.


    Season East Finals NBA Finals
    PlayerPTSFG%3FG%PTSFG%3FG%PTSFG%3FG%
    Allen10.944.9%41.9%7.130.8%34.5%13.066.7%66.7%
    Battier6.642.0%43.0%2.312.5%13.3%1.516.7%16.7%
    Miller4.843.3%41.7%1.850.0%50.0%7.083.3%80.0%
    Cole5.642.1%35.7%5.043.8%40.0%3.533.3%50.0%
    Andersen4.957.7%66.7%*7.288.9%0.0%8.075.0%0.0%
    *three 3-point attempts

    In the first four games of the East Finals, Battier averaged 20.8 minutes a game and shot a combined 14.3 percent from the field. His minutes have yet to reach double figures since. After playing a combined 12 minutes in Games 5 and 6 against the Pacers, he recorded a DNP-CD in Game 7 as Spoelstra went with the bigger Miller in his place against the Pacers' frontline. That rotation has continued in the Finals, with Miller taking over Battier's minutes and performing at a high level when called upon.

    Through two games, the Heat's five main reserves have averaged 33 points per game with Allen (13.0 points, 66.7% shooting) and Miller (7.0 points, 83.3% shooting) leading the way. They have knocked down open threes and will need to continue to do so for the Heat to find success in San Antonio.

    The Spurs are not going to let LeBron James beat them. They're going to make the burger rely on the lettuce. And at least through the first two games, the lettuce has complimented the burger quite well.

    Ray Allen Shot Chart -- NBA Finals
    Mike Miller Shot Chart -- NBA Finals

    There's a lot of green in those shot charts. Looks a bit like lettuce.



    The Block and The Run

    June 9, 2013 -- 9:30PM

    By Brian Martin

    Game 1 brought us "The Shot" by Tony Parker -- the banked shot that just beat the shot clock and sealed the win for San Antonio as it gave them a four-point lead with 5.2 seconds to play.

    Game 2 brought us two new moments to remember in our catalogue of great Finals moments: "The Block" and "The Run" will not soon be forgotten by NBA fans.

    Let's start with "The Block", which took place with 8:20 left to play in the fourth quarter. The Spurs ran a pick-and-roll with Tiago Splitter picking Mario Chalmers to free Tony Parker and forcing Chris Bosh to hedge. Parker split Chalmers and Bosh with a bounce pass to Splitter rolling down the lane. The lane looked wide open as Splitter took a step and rose up for a powerful one-handed dunk.

    LeBron James was at the baseline cheating into the key off of Kawhi Leonard as the pick-and-roll is happening. Once Splitter gathers himself and goes up for the dunk, LeBron takes a step up to get right in front of the rim and meets Splitter at the apex of his jump, gets 100 percent of his right hand on the ball and pushes it toward the floor.

    "Just wanted to, I guess, make an impact some way," James said of the block. "Offensively it was a struggle for me; couldn't make a shot, missed layups. Some things I'm accustomed to making. So I just wanted to make some plays and try to help our team. And I was able to protect the rim on that one."

    The crowd exploded as it had been doing for much of the second half, thanks to our other moment -- "The Run" -- which began late in the third quarter and extended into the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. In 8:05 of game time, the Heat outscored the Spurs 33-5 and turned a one-point deficit (62-61 with 3:17 to play in the third) into a 27-point lead (94-67, 7:13 to play in the fourth).
    Scroll down or click here for a box score of the Heat's 33-5 run

    During the run, the Heat were nearly perfect. They shot 12-of-13 (92.3%) from the field, 5-of-5 from 3-point range and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. They had seven assists on 12 made baskets and forced six San Antonio turnovers with four steals. Keep in mind that San Antonio had four turnovers in all of Game 1. They had six of their 17 in Game 2 in this eight-minute stretch that turned the game completely around.

    Miami's shot chart during 33-5 run

    It was also a turnaround for James, who had struggled for much of the night (six points on 2-of-12 shooting) before the run started. During the run, James was 5-for-5 from the field, including a 3-pointer, had three assists, two rebounds, a steal and the amazing block on Splitter.

    LeBron James -- Before Run vs During Run

    PeriodMinFGM-AFG%3FGM-A3FG%FTM-AFT%PTSREBASTBLKSTLTO+/-
    Before30:142-1216.7%0-20.0%2-2100.0%654221+3
    During8:055-5100.0%1-1100.0%0-00.0%1123111+28

    The run centered around the play of Mario Chalmers and James, who ran pick-and-rolls throughout the stretch to free James up for shots of his own or for his teammates. Early in the run, with just over a minute to play in the third, Chalmers and James ran their pick-and-roll on the left hand side of the floor, Chalmers passed to LeBron, who caught the ball at the top of the key, took a dribble toward the basket, the San Antonio defense collapse on him and he kicked it out to Mike Miller sitting wide open at the 3-point line.

    "We started to get a little flow, and I started to see him start to play really well, especially coming off pick-and-rolls," said James. "We ran a lot of pick-and-rolls between the two of us, and I told him to keep attacking and let's try to push this lead up and go for the kill."

    During the run, Chalmers or James either scored or assisted on 31 of the 33 points -- including the first 23 and the last eight points of the run. The only interruption was a pair of free throws by Chris Andersen with 8:44 to play in the fourth. Every other point had Chalmers or James' fingerprints on it.

    As much as the run featured the turnaround performance by James, Chalmers really shined in orchestrating the show for the Heat. He had eight points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from the line, along with two assists, a rebound and a steal during the eight-minute stretch.

    Two names not mentioned in the run are Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who spent the majority of the run on the bench. Wade played just 37 seconds and Bosh just 1:26 in the defining stretch of Game 2.

    That's not to take away from their overall impact in Game 2. Bosh was much better on Sunday than he was in Game 1, scoring 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, along with 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. He played closer to the basket than he did in Game 1, where he spent much of the night on the perimeter. Wade had just 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting, but did contribute six assists in just under 30 minutes on the floor.

    San Antonio's shot chart during Miami's 33-5 run

    As for the Spurs, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong during this stretch. San Antonio shot just 2-of-10 from the field, missed all of their 3-point attempts and finished with more turnovers (six) than points (five). The story of this game went from the amazing performances of San Antonio's young players -- with Danny Green going 5-for-5 from 3-point range and Kawhi Leonard grabbing 14 rebounds and continuing to play solid defense on James -- to Miami's second-half explosion that San Antonio had no answer for.

    "If you turn it over and you don't shoot well, that's a very bad combination," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich following the game.

    The Spurs have two days to come up with an answer as Game 3 tips off on Tuesday night in San Antonio and the series tied at 1-1. Since the NBA adopted the 2-3-2 format in 1985, the winner of Game 3 when the series is tied 1-1 goes on to win the series 92.3% of the time (12-1).

    Box Score -- 3:17 3rd Quarter to 7:13 4th Quarter
    Click Image for Larger Version



    A Final Look at Game 1

    June 9, 2013 -- 2:30PM

    By Brian Martin

    Before tonight's Game 2 of the NBA Finals, let's take one more look back at Game 1 to see what we can learn heading into tonight.

    Tony Parker (21 points, 6 assists) and LeBron James (18 points, 10 assists) were both the leading scorer and playmaker for their teams in Game 1. But they each got to those numbers in different ways.

    LeBron Scoring

    In our series preview, we discussed how San Antonio is all about taking away what their opponent does best. In this case, it had the challenge of slowing down LeBron James, who entered the Finals averaging 26.2 points on 51.4% shooting. In Game, 1 James finished with 18 points on 16 shots (43.8% shooting). It was only the third time in this year's playoffs that James was held under 20 points; he had 19 points in two games (vs Milwaukee, vs Chicago), both Miami wins in which he played under 40 minutes.

  • A look at LeBron's shot distribution chart, shows that during the playoffs prior to the finals, he took 41.1% of his shots inside the restricted area and 11% of his shots in the paint but outside the restricted area. That's a total of 52.1% of his shots coming in the paint.
  • Against the Spurs in Game 1 of the Finals, LeBron actually took a higher percentage of his shots inside the paint 56.3% (compared to 52.1%). However, the difference is that he took 10 percent less of his shots in the restricted area (31.2% compared to 41.1%). He's still getting shots in the paint, but they are further away from the basket.
  • In Game 1 LeBron got five attempts inside the restricted area and made all five attempts (100.0%). But he only made two shots outside of the restricted area -- one above the break 3 and a jumper in the paint -- in 11 attempts that came outside of the restricted area (18.2%).
  • He also took as many corner 3s as he did mid-range shots (12.5% of his shot attempts in each zone). In the playoffs prior to the Finals, James rarely took corner 3s (3.9% of all shots) and did more work in the mid-range (25.9% of all shots) than he he did in Game 1 (12.5%).
  • Parker Scoring

    While the Spurs pushed James further away from the basket, Tony Parker actually brought his game closer to the basket in Game 1 compared to the rest of the playoffs, by taking more shots at the rim and taking zero threes.

  • In the playoffs, Parker took just 8.7 percent of his shots from 3-point range. In Game 1, he did not attempt a 3-point shot at all, taking all 18 of his shots inside the arc. The shots were split evenly between mid-range (50%) and shots in the paint (50%).
  • In the playoffs Parker took 27.5% of his shots inside the restricted area. In Game 1, that jumped up to 33.3%. His shots inside the paint, but outside the restricted area (including his great floater) went down slightly in Game 1 (18.3% in playoffs, 16.7% in Game 1).
  • His mid-range shot attempts increased by nearly five percent (45.4% in playoffs, 50% in Game 1). Parker shot 44.4% on his nine midrange shots (4-of-9) and 55.6% on his nine shots in the paint (5-of-9).
  • Looking at Parker's shot chart, you can see he took more shots and shot a higher percentage from the right side of the floor in Game 1 after the left side had been his better side in the playoffs prior to the Finals.
  • LeBron and Parker Assists

    The Spurs led the league in assists this season (25.1 per game), while Miami ranked eighth (23.0 per game). That trend continued in the playoffs, as the Spurs led all playoff teams in assists through the conference finals (23.6 per game), while Miami ranked fourth (20.3 per game).

    However, Game 1 saw the Heat out-assist the Spurs 20-16. When we take a closer look at each teams assists, there are some interesting takeaways:

  • 59% (20-34) of Miami's FGs were assisted compared with 46% (16-35) of San Antonio's
  • 63% (48-76) of Miami's points were assisted compared with 51% (39-77) of San Antonio's. [Note: This only includes points scored on made baskets, it does not include free throws]
  • Player with most assists: LeBron with 10 and also had the most total points assisted = 24 points
  • Player who received the most assists: Wade with 5. Wades' total assisted points = 10
    Interestingly, although probably not unexpectedly given play style, Green received fewer assists than Wade (4), but had more assisted points (12)
  • Player who assisted the most unique players: LeBron with 7
  • Players who received assists from most unique players: Wade and Green (both 4), which means four different players fed Wade's 5 assisted shots and Green wasn't assisted by the same player twice on his four -- this kind of stuff comes into play below in the network stats
  • Table 1: Summary of Field Goals, Points and Assists

    Now let's take it a step further and look at each assist individually and see which players synched up most often.

    The Miami dyad with the most assisted field goal and points: Bosh and James (4 assists and 9 points in both directions)

  • Bosh assisted James once for three points and James assisted Bosh three times for six points
  • The San Antonio dyad with the most assisted field goal and points: Duncan and Parker (3 assists and 6 points in both directions)

  • Duncan assisted Parker once for three points and Parker assisted Duncan twice for four
  • Table 2: Player Dyads (player pair regardless of direction)

    Finally, let's build out our networks for each team and compare them to each other.

    James sits in the center of Miami distribution change, whereas Wade is the recipient of the most assists (see the number of arrows coming away from James compared to the number of arrows coming into Wade. Despite what might seem like too much reliance on one person:

  • Miami has 10 players in the network, compared with 8 for San Antonio
  • Miami has 23 unique connections between the 10 players, compared with 18 for San Antonio's 10
  • Miami's network has a higher "density" which is a measure of the connectedness of the network, and is the proportion of actual connections to the total number of possible connections. Miami 0.214 compared with San Antonio 0.178M
  • Figure 1: Network Graphic (Size of player circle = FGM, arrow direction = assist, # on arrow = # of assists, circular arrow = unassisted)



    Spurs Continue to Excel When Game is Close

    June 8, 2013 -- 12:30AM

    By Brian Martin

    During Game 1 of the NBA Finals, no team held a lead larger than nine points -- the Spurs led by seven in the opening minutes (9-2 just 2:04 into the game) and the Heat led by nine early in the second quarter (38-29 after a 7-0 run).

    The game was tightly contested the entire night, which for the viewing audience, made it all the more enjoyable. And for the players on the court, made every possession all the more important.

    After dropping Game 1, Miami's LeBron James said of San Antonio, "against this team you can't make many mistakes." That is a statement that could really be made about both teams. And if Game 1 was any indication, we are in for a tightly contested series, so the team that executes better in close-game situations will likely be the one to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy.

    That brings us to our situational stats, where we can look at how teams perform on a per-quarter basis and by different score margins within the game. We examined these stats for both teams in their playoff runs leading up to the Finals to see if we could find any trends. Then we compared those to Game 1 of the Finals to see if the trends held up.

    And they did, for the most part.

    1-5 Points Range

    Playoff Run to the Finals: When in a tie game, or in a game when they were ahead or behind by 1-5 points, the Spurs were absolutely dominant. On the contrary, the Heat were good, but much more pedestrian. The Net Rating for Spurs in games when they were ahead or behind by 1-5 points was 21.6, while the Heat's Net Rating was 7.0 for the same situation.

    1-5 Points RangeSpursHeat
    Off Rtg115.9109.9
    Def Rtg94.2102.9
    Net Rtg21.67.0
    PIE65.2%53.6%
    PACE90.8290.03
    eFG%54.8%53.0%

    Game 1 Reaction: Game 1 of the Finals featured 38 minutes of play with the score margin between 1-5 points. During this time, the Spurs held a 6.9 Net Rating advantage over the Heat and outshot Miami 48.5 eFG% to 46.8 eFG%. However, when the game was tied (two minutes) or with a score margin of 6-10 points (seven minutes), the Heat dominated, posting Net Ratings of 48.3 and 25.8, respectively, in those situations.

    Game 1 By Score Margin -- Spurs

    MarginMinOffRtgDefRtgNetRtgPIEPACEeFG%+/-
    Tied286.8135.1-48.350.0%102.7133.3%-1
    1-5 Points38105.398.36.948.4%88.2348.5%+5
    6-10 Points793.7119.5-25.856.1%80.1636.7%0

    11-15 Points Range

    Playoff Run to the Finals: When either team had a larger lead, the opposite trend played out. When ahead or behind by 11-15 points, the Heat ramped up the defense, while the Spurs scored less and gave up more scoring against them. When either up or down by 11-15 points, the Spurs had a below average PIE as a team, being 47.2% in these situations, while the Heat had a PIE of 62.0%.

    11-15 Pts. RangeSpursHeat
    Off Rtg102.9108.6
    Def Rtg105.390.7
    Net Rtg-2.417.9
    PIE47.2%62.0%
    PACE92.6684.16
    eFG%50.0%47.2%

    Game 1 Reaction: The Spurs never let Miami build a double-digit lead, which negated one of Miami's biggest strengths. The Spurs kept the game close and thus played to their own strength highlighted above.

    1st Quarter

    Playoff Run to the Finals: The Spurs opened games strong in the first quarter, building large leads right off the bat. Their Net Rating in the first quarter was 19, while the Heat's was only 1.4. The Spurs ran at a pace of 94.09 (about league average for regular season), while the Heat played much slower (90.55 pace) to open games.

    1st QuarterSpursHeat
    Off Rtg107.6102.7
    Def Rtg88.6101.3
    Net Rtg19.01.4
    PIE60.80%51.40%
    PACE94.0990.55
    eFG%53.1%51.8%
    AST%61.20%57.70%
    REB%49.00%44.50%

    Game 1 Reaction: This trend did not hold up for the Spurs. Although they jumped out to an early 9-2 lead, Miami quickly answered and eventually won the quarter 24-23. The Spurs would lose both the first and second quarters, but kept the margin to three points at the half. They followed this up with an even third quarter and took over in the fourth.

    4th Quarter

    Playoff Run to the Finals: The fourth quarter was second-best quarter for both the Spurs (+13.5 Net Rating) and Heat (+14.7 Net Rating). The pace slowed down for both teams as they both posted their slowest pace in the fourth, although the Spurs still maintained a similar edge over the Heat. The Spurs also posted their highest Assist Rate and Rebound Rate in the fourth quarter, while the Heat posted their best shooting percentage (54.9% eFG%).

    4th QuarterSpursHeat
    Off Rtg107.4116.5
    Def Rtg93.9101.7
    Net Rtg13.514.7
    PIE59.1%58.7%
    PACE90.3686.98
    eFG%51.6%54.9%
    AST%66.1%56.8%
    REB%50.2%49.2%

    Game 1 Reaction: Both teams shot their worst percentage in the fourth quarter (Spurs 41.3 eFG%, Heat 27.8 eFG%), well below their playoff averages heading into the Finals. The dropoff was far more drastic for Miami, hence their 16-point output in the quarter. Two of the Spurs' strengths in the fourth quarter throughout the playoffs (assists and rebounds) failed them in Game 1 as they posted a 22.2% assist rate and 39.1% rebound rate in Game 1. And while their offensive rating was down slightly, they won the quarter with their defensive effort (72.5 defensive rating) against the Heat.

    The fourth quarter included 11 minutes with the score margin between 1-5 points. And as we discussed above, the Spurs excelled when the game was tight. The Spurs posted a 28.6 net rating for the entire fourth quarter and a 38.8 net rating with the score in the 1-5 point margin.



    San Antonio's Second Chance Points

    June 7, 2013 -- 12:30PM

    By Brian Martin

    Following the Heat's Game 1 loss, LeBron James headed to the podium for his post-game press conference. With a stat sheet in front of him, LeBron talked about how the Heat's Game 1 performance.

    "You look at statistics, you know, we put in ourselves in position to win. They shot 41%. We outrebounded them by nine. We had more assists. But we turned the ball over five times in the fourth."

    Then came the quote of the night as LeBron looked at the number of second chance points the Spurs scored against the Heat.

    "I was looking at the stat sheet. It says they had 21 second-chance points. I don't really understand how is that possible with only six offensive rebounds? I'm very good at math, and the only way you can get a second-chance point is if you get off a rebound. Am I correct? Even if you hit a three, six offensive rebounds, that's still 18 points. So, I don't understand how that works.

    "But we had chances. That's kind of weird. I don't understand this. Am I right or am I wrong? Am I right? Okay. It's crazy."

    Let's clarify the stat sheet to make sure everyone is on the same page.

    The Spurs did grab six offensive rebounds and scored 14 points off of those six extra opportunities. The Spurs made the most of their extra chances, scoring on every one of their six offensive rebounds.

    But that only accounts for 14 of their 21 second-chance points. The other seven came off of team rebounds following a shot by the Spurs.

    Every missed shot needs a rebound associated with it, even if no player on either team secures the rebound.

    Team rebounds are awarded when a team gains or retains possession of the ball after any missed shot that is not secured by an individual player.

    Here are some examples of team rebounds that are credited to the offensive team as they retain possession of the ball following a missed shot:

  • 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
  • a missed free throw prior to the final free throw attempt of the trip to the foul line. So if it is a two-shot foul and the offensive player misses the first attempt, the offensive team is credited with a team rebound. If it is a three-shot foul, team rebounds can be credited for misses on the first or second attempt. Second chance points are not awarded if the player makes the final free throw attempt after the team is credited with a team rebound off a missed free throw.
  • a shot that occurs at the buzzer at the end of any quarter. For example, the Heat were credited with a team rebound on LeBron James' missed 3-point shot that he attempted with 0.5 seconds left in the third quarter.
  • On the other hand, team rebounds can be credited to the defensive team when:

  • a shot bounces off the rim and goes directly out of bounds without any player making contact with the ball
  • a missed shot that is deflected out of bounds by an offensive player trying, but failing, to secure a rebound
  • a last free throw attempt in a sequence misses the rim entirely
  • The Spurs were credited with 10 team rebounds in Game 1 of the Finals. Three came on the defensive end, two came off of missed free throws and five came on the offensive end.

    Of those five extra opportunities due to offensive team rebounds, the Spurs converted three of them -- all in the first half -- for seven points.

    Spurs Team Rebounds -- Game 1

    Offensive Team Rebounds (2nd Chance Opportunity)
    PeriodPlay by Play Description
    1 (7:26)[SAN] Duncan Turnaround Jump Shot: Missed
    (7:25)[SAN] Team Rebound
    (7:17)[SAN] Parker Floating Jump shot: Made (4 PTS) Assist: Duncan (2 AST)
    1 (04:57)[SAN] Duncan Jump Shot: Missed
    (04:56)[SAN] Team Rebound
    (04:50)[SAN] Green 3pt Shot: Made (6 PTS) Assist: Diaw (1 AST)
    2 (2:08)[SAN] Ginobili Driving Layup Shot: Missed
    (2:06)[SAN] Team Rebound
    (1:59)[SAN] Duncan Hook Shot: Made (10 PTS) Assist: Parker (3 AST)
    3 (9:24)[SAN] Splitter Driving Finger Roll Layup Shot: Missed
    (9:22)[SAN] Team Rebound
    (9:18)[SAN] Splitter Turnaround Jump Shot: Missed
    4 (9:50)[SAN] Parker Driving Layup Shot: Missed Block: Bosh (1 BLK)
    (9:49)[SAN] Team Rebound
    (9:44)[SAN] Green 3pt Shot: Missed

    Offensive Team Rebounds (Missed FT)
    PeriodPlay by Play Description
    1 (3:02)[SAN] Ginobili Free Throw 1 of 2 Missed
    (3:02)[SAN] Team Rebound
    2 (10:23)[SAN] Splitter Free Throw 1 of 2 Missed
    (10:23)[SAN] Team Rebound

    Defensive Team Rebounds
    PeriodPlay by Play Description
    2 (0:40.2)[MIA] James Jump Shot: Missed Block: Green (1 BLK)
    (0:39.4)[SAN] Team Rebound
    3 (1:03)[MIA] Wade Fadeaway Jump Shot: Missed
    (1:02)[SAN] Team Rebound
    4 (10:40)[MIA] Cole Jump Shot: Missed
    (10:39)[SAN] Team Rebound

    So now that we have accounted for all of San Antonio's team rebounds, let's do a full breakdown of how they scored their second chance points off the combination of offensive rebounds and team rebounds.

    Spurs Second-Chance Points -- Game 1

    Period Play by Play Description Second Chance Points Rebound Type
    1 (7:26)[SAS] Duncan Turnaround Jump Shot: Missed
    (7:25)[SAS] Team Rebound
    (7:25)[MIA] Bosh Foul:Personal (1 PF)
    (7:17)[SAS 11-9] Parker Floating Jump shot: Made (4 PTS) Assist: Duncan (2 AST)
    2 Team
    1 (4:57)[SAS] Duncan Jump Shot: Missed
    (4:56)[SAS] Team Rebound
    (4:50)[SAS 16-15] Green 3pt Shot: Made (6 PTS) Assist: Diaw (1 AST)
    3 Team
    2 (7:12)[SAS] Neal Jump Shot: Missed
    (7:11)[SAS] Duncan Rebound (Off:1 Def:5)
    (7:03)[MIA] Andersen Foul:Personal (2 PF)
    (7:03)[MIA] Andersen Substitution replaced by Battier
    (6:49)[SAS 34-38] Green 3pt Shot: Made (9 PTS) Assist: Neal (1 AST)
    3 Offensive
    2 (4:18)[SAS] Green 3pt Shot: Missed
    (4:17)[SAS] Duncan Rebound (Off:2 Def:5)
    (4:13)[SAS 40-46] Duncan Layup Shot: Made (8 PTS)
    2 Offensive
    2 (2:08)[SAS] Ginobili Driving Layup Shot: Missed
    (2:06)[SAS] Team Rebound
    (1:59)[SAS 44-48] Duncan Hook Shot: Made (10 PTS) Assist: Parker (3 AST)
    2 Team
    3 (2:19)[SAS] Ginobili Driving Finger Roll Layup Shot: Missed
    (2:18)[SAS] Leonard Rebound (Off:1 Def:7)
    (2:03)[SAS 67-69] Neal 3pt Shot: Made (7 PTS) Assist: Ginobili (2 AST)
    3 Offensive
    3 (0:15)[SAS] Leonard 3pt Shot: Missed
    (0:14)[SAS] Splitter Rebound (Off:1 Def:1)
    (0:03)[MIA] Andersen Foul:Shooting (3 PF)
    (0:03)[SAS 68-72] Ginobili Free Throw 1 of 2 (12 PTS)
    (0:03)[SAS 69-72] Ginobili Free Throw 2 of 2 (13 PTS)
    2 Offensive
    4 (7:02)[SAS] Neal Jump Shot: Missed
    (7:01)[SAS] Leonard Rebound (Off:2 Def:7)
    (7:00)[SAS 79-78] Leonard Jump Shot: Made (10 PTS)
    2 Offensive
    4 (5:30)[SAS] Leonard Layup Shot: Missed
    (5:29)[SAS] Duncan Rebound (Off:3 Def:10)
    (5:28)[SAS 83-79] Duncan Tip Shot: Made (18 PTS)
    2 Offensive

    Offensive146

    Team73

    Total219



    NBA Finals Game 1 By The Numbers

    June 6, 2013 -- 11:30PM

    By Brian Martin

    The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat gave basketball fans all they could ask for in an entertaining opening to the 2013 NBA Finals. The game featured a triple-double by LeBron James, but will be remembered for Tony Parker's bank shot with 5.2 seconds left that just beat the shot clock and beat the Heat in Game 1.

    We take a closer look at the numbers behind San Antonio's victory.

    1
    Tony Parker hit one of the biggest shots of his career with a bank shot as the shot clock expired to give the Spurs a four-point lead with 5.2 seconds to play. The play was reviewed to make sure Parker got the shot off before the shot clock expired.

    The shot was called good on the floor and was upheld after the review as one frame of video separated the ball leaving Parker's fingertips and the red light going off to signal a shot clock violation. While being gaurded by LeBron James, Parker lost control of the ball three separate times on the possession, went to the ground, dribbled from his knee like a Harlem Globetrotter, got up and shot the ball against a strong defensive contest from James at the shot clock buzzer.

    "Tony did everything wrong then did everything right on the same possession." - LeBron James on Parker's last shot.


    4
    The Spurs committed just four turnovers, which ties an NBA Finals record for fewest turnovers by a team, and had 16 assists. The Spurs ranked second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio during the season (1.71) and had a 4.00 ratio in Game 1.

    From NBA.com's John Schuhmann, in 290 games since LeBron James arrived in Miami, the Heat had never forced fewer than six turnovers before the Spurs had four tonight.

    How important is forcing turnovers for Miami? They scored eight points off of the four turnovers they forced in Game 1. They are at their best when forcing turnovers and beating teams in transition for easy baskets.


    5-0
    The Spurs improved to 5-0 all-time in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Tonight's game was the second time the Spurs won Game 1 of the Finals on the road (2003 at New Jersey). The Spurs also improved to 8-4 all-time in Finals road games. They are now 13-2 in the 2013 Playoffs, including a 7-1 mark on the road.

    In NBA Finals history, the team that wins Game 1 has gone on to win the series 71.2% of the time (47-19). The Spurs account for four of those wins already and look to make it five-for-five. Miami beat the odds last season, dropping Game 1 in Oklahoma City, but winning the series in five games.


    18/18/10
    LeBron James posted a remarkable 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists in Game 1 -- his third career triple-double in the Finals and the 10th of his career in the postseason. This was the second consecutive Finals triple-double for James, going back to Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals vs Oklahoma City. LeBron's 18 rebounds were a season high for the MVP.

    James also surpassed Magic Johnson (3,701) for 11th place on the all-time playoff scoring list after scoring his eighth point early in the second quarter.


    23-16
    After the first three quarters were separated by just three points (Miami won the first quarter by two, won the second quarter by one and tied the third quarter), the Spurs outscored the Heat by seven points in the fourth to rally past the defending champs. The Spurs took their first lead since the first quarter with 7:47 left in the fourth on a pair of free throws by Parker.

    The Spurs duo of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan outscored the Heat duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade 14-6 in the final quarter. Wade was held scoreless (0-for-2) in the period and finished with 17 points. Parker scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the clutch shot in the final seconds to seal the game for the Spurs.

    The Heat shot just 5-of-18 (27.8%) in the fourth quarter, with only one made basket outside the paint (Bosh jumper with 7:28 to play). They missed all five of their three-point attempts in the period.


    54-48
    The Spurs Big Three (Parker, Duncan, Ginobili) outscored the Heat Big Three (James, Wade, Bosh) 54-48, including 14-8 in the fourth quarter. Wade and Ginobili were both scoreless in the fourth quarter.


    37
    Tim Duncan, at 37 years old, had 20 points and 14 rebounds in Game 1. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only player older than Duncan to post those numbers in the Finals. Duncan opened the game missing his first five shots (all in the first quarter), but went 8-14 (57.1%) for the remainder of the game.


    10
    The Heat have won 10 straight games following a loss. They have not lost back-to-back games since Jan 8-10. This is the fourth time the Heat have lost Game 1 of a playoff series in the Big Three era. The Heat have gone on to sweep the next four games in each of the previous three instances, including last year's Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.


    0-4
    Chris Bosh attempted four 3-pointers in Game 1 and missed all four attempts. The most crucial of them came with 1:02 to play in the game and the Heat trailing by four points. LeBron James drove to the middle and kicked it out to a wide open Bosh at the three-point line on the right wing. He took his time with the shot, but could not knock it down.

    Bosh had shot the three well during the playoffs (15-of-31, 48.4%), but came up empty in Game 1 of the Finals. Similar to the East Finals, Bosh spent most of his night on the perimeter with only four of his 16 attempts coming inside the paint. Bosh was 5-of-8 on mid-range shots, 1-of-4 in the paint and 0-4 from three.


    9-0
    The Heat held a 9-0 advantage in fast break points in the first half. The Spurs held the Heat to zero fast break points in the second half, while scoring four of their own to cut the Heat's advantage. The Spurs had just two turnovers in the second half and none in the fourth quarter. Live ball turnovers are the key to Miami's transition attack.


    40-34
    The Spurs won the points in the paint battle 40-34 in Game 1 of the Finals. During the East Finals, the Heat lost every game in which they lost the points in the paint battle. That trend held true again tonight.


    30-22
    The Heat bench outscored the Spurs bench 30-22 in Game 1 with Ray Allen scoring 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting (all from three) and 4-of-5 from the line. Manu Ginobili led the Spurs bench effort with 11 points.


    46-37
    The Heat won the rebounding battle by a nine-rebound margin, including a 9-6 edge on the offensive glass. Both the Spurs (29th) and the Heat (28th) ranked near the bottom of the league in offensive rebounding this season. However, the Spurs ranked among the league's best in defensive rebounding (third-ranked 74.9% defensive rebound rate).


    21-8
    The Spurs outscored the Heat 21-8 on second chance points. As LeBron James mentioned in the post-game press conference, the Spurs had 21 second chance points with just six offensive rebounds. However, they did have 10 team rebounds, which include missed shots that go out of bounds off the defending team. The Spurs scored 14 points on their 6 offensive rebounds and an additional 7 points on team rebounds.



    Rest vs. Rust ... Been There, Done That for Spurs

    June 6, 2013 -- 3:00PM

    By Brian Martin

    The Spurs have been in this situation before, waiting for a week or more to tip off the NBA Finals after winning the Western Conference.

    And each time, they've been just fine.

    The Spurs have won titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. It was only the 2003 Finals against the New Jersey Nets that the Spurs were not the more rested team. The Spurs had ample rest in 1999 (9 days between games), 2005 (7 days) and 2007 (7 days) and it did not hurt them in Game 1 (they won each Game 1, all at home) or the series (the Spurs have never lost when reaching the Finals).

    Even in 2003, when the Spurs were the less rested team and the lower seed opening the series on the road, they still won Game 1 of the series. Not to discount the advantage of being the rested team. The Spurs are 7-0 in Game 1's of playoff series on 5 or more days rest in the Duncan, Parker, Ginobili era.

    So let's recap, shall we.

    In 1999, the Spurs made their Finals debut after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the West Finals. Nine days later they faced the New York Knicks in the Finals. Armed with home court advantage, the Spurs showed little rust in winning Games 1 and 2 by 12 and 13 points, respectively, and claimed their first title in five games.

    In 2005, the Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns in five games to head to the NBA Finals seeking their third title in seven years. They waited seven days for the Finals to tip off against the Detroit Pistons, who needed seven games to reach the Finals. Once again the Spurs won Games 1 and 2 and eventually won the championship in seven games. It was the only time the Spurs have needed seven games to win an NBA Finals.

    In 2007, the Spurs' most recent trip to the Finals before tonight, San Antonio once again handled their business quickly in the Western Conference Finals, dispatching for the Jazz in five games. They had to wait a full week before opening the Finals against a young LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. And yet again, the Spurs won the first two games at home and followed it up with two more wins on the road to sweep the Cavs and win their fourth NBA title.

    And here we are in 2013, the Spurs again got through the Western Conference unscathed and had plenty of rest before competing for a championship. If San Antonio's Finals history repeats itself, Miami is in trouble.

    So now that we've dispelled the rest vs. rust argument, there's another Spurs trend that is far more important to consider: they have never lost Game 1 of the Finals.

    And according to our friends at the Elias Sports Bureau, teams that have won Game 1 of The Finals are 47-19 in those series. Miami beat the odds last season, dropping Game 1 in Oklahoma City, but winning the series in five games.