“A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
As great as this Finals series had been through three games, there was still something missing. The two best shooting guards of this century were playing, but they really were not themselves. Manu and Wade are two players who have thrived on the largest of stages in their career. Let’s illustrate this with a table:
That is a table of the estimated wins produced (using a variation on the method outlined here) for all players with greater than 100 minutes played in the Finals since 1986. Manu has been good, but Wade has been great (we will talk about some of the others in a bit).
Given their historical performance, it was really surprising to see them struggling. It was easy to conclude that injury and father time had taken out of their games.
Turns out they were just fashionably late.
Let’s get to game 4 and 5 of my Advanced playoff box scores for the Finals.
A few quick notes before we go:
- We are using New Wins Produced numbers. I’m manually compiling them for the playoffs and NBA Geek has compiled them for the season. There will be some drift in the numbers as we go along (don’t worry: it’s a function moving averages), but it’s good enough for horseshoes, hand grenades, and tactical nuclear weapons.
- The Boxscore contains:
- Basic information: Player, Team, Game ID (who, what, and when)
- Classic Stats: Points, Shots, Offensive Rebounds, Defensive Rebounds, Steals, Blocks, and Assists (because the classics are classics for a reason).
- Simple spins on classics: % of Team Minutes (player minutes as a % of total minutes available), Position (average player position)
- Posession and Play stats: Offensive Plays: (Field Goal attempts) + 0.434 (Free Throw Attempts) + Turnovers; Usage of Offensive Plays: % of Offensive plays used by player when in the game
- All the classic Offensive Efficiency stats (and some slightly modded ones): Effective Field Goal %= (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA; True Shooting %= Pts / (2 * (FGA + 0.44 * FTA), Points per Shot = Pts/FGA, Points per Offensive Play= Pts/Offensive Plays
- “Do it Yourself” Offensive Point Margin Stats: Offensive Point Margin: this is the marginal value created by the player per offensive play spent. The calculation is: OPM = (Points per Play for Player – Avg Points per play for Player for League)*Offensive Plays for Player. Defensive Point Margin: this is the marginal value surrendered by the player per offensive play spent. The calculation is: DPM = (Points per Play for Opponent – Avg Points per play for Player for League)*Offensive Plays for Opponent. I’m doing this one by position averages per game. Combined Margin: this is just OPM-DPM
- Rebounding Rates: % of Rebounds on Offense, % of Rebounds on Defense.
- Points over Par: This is our points version of Wins Produced that tell you the direct effect of a player’s production on the game’s point margin. This is the key number boys and girls. In the interest of keeping it to each series and games I am using Point over Par in comparison to the players on the court for each game. What this means is that each player will not be judged against the average playoff production for their position but rather their opponents. This guarantees that on a game level Points over Par maps to actual point margin.
- I’ve classified performances on a sliding scale:
- Hall of Famer: 12.5 POP48 and Above. Submit tape of performance to Hall of Fame voters
- Superstar: 5 to 12.5 POP48. Lebron on a regular night.
- Star: 2.5 to 5 POP48. A good night
- Starter: 0 to 2.5 POP48. Positive contributions to the outcome.
- Bench: -2.5 to 0 POP48. Not worthy of a starting role.
- Scrub: -5 to -2.5 POP48. Play only in case of emergency.
- Traitor: less than -5 POP48. You’re wearing the wrong uniform.
Now for the recaps.
Heat-Spurs Game 4
This was the flying death machine at its finest. Of course, the caveat is that this was the Dwyane Wade model of the Heat with him as Batman and Lebron as Robin. The Spurs were hobbled in this game by Tony Parker’s injury, Manu not being Manu, and Bosh owning Duncan. The problem for Miami is that this version of their team (Wade leads and Lebron takes a backseat, Haslem plays and Birdman sits, bad defensive guards galore) is ultimately less effective than the team that won all those games in a row.
Heat-Spurs Game 5
And it came back to bite them right here. When Parker and Ginobli are in form, the Heat guards cannot cover them at all. Their favorite tactic (switching Lebron and Wade over) is pure death because that means that Rio and Cole have to cover Green and Leonard on the perimeter where they have no regard for human life.
I expected Popp to challenge the Miami ball handlers (LeBron and Wade) and force their shooters to beat them. This is something that is only possible because Kawhi and Green have submitted a master thesis in covering two of the greatest wing players ever. Kawhi’s work on manning up on LeBron and Wade and Green’s work on fast break denial have been beyond anything I could have imagined.
This was really the first game in this series where both teams were firing on all cylinders, and San Antonio won. If Manu and Parker are close to this form, Miami can’t win playing this style.
What they should be doing is playing LeBron at the five and using a hell of a lot more Birdman.
Let’s talk series:
The Danny Green/Kawhi Leonard MVP race is too close to call right now. On a per minute basis it’s them Magic, Chuck, and Austin Croshere. Crazy.
Initial Prediction: SA in 6 and it looks really, really good.
MVP so Far: Danny Green is your Finals MVP
LVP: Mario and Cole have been getting killed on defense. To the point that the Spurs just charge at them.
Updated Prediction: SA in 6.
Updated series odds are:
|6 Games||7 Games|
With the Spurs’ total win percentage at 58%