Advanced Scouting: Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs
Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs 8:30 CST March 4, 2011
The self proclaimed “Heatles” show goes to San Antonio tonight in what could very well be a preview of the NBA finals. Of course, if it would be very unlikely the Spurs even reach this point without Tony Parker at or near top form. The Heat are no shoe-in either.
After beating the Kings the first game following All-Star break, the Heat have lost in Chicago, beaten Washington at home and lost to New York and Orlando at home. In fairness, each of these losses has been close, but are they signs of things to come?
Do Lebron and Wade fit together
I thought might be useful to assess Miami’s success with Lebron and Wade on the court at the same time. It is reasonable to suspect that since they both like to dominate the ball, playing together could diminish both of their values. The following represents data for each combination of Lebron and Wade sitting or playing:
Lebron and Wade +362 in 1593 minutes (10.9 per 48)
Lebron, no Wade +101 in 631 MP (7.7 per 48)
Wade, no Lebron +42 in 493 MP (4.1 per 48)
Neither -48 in 184 MP (-12.5 per 48)
It seems likely from the above figures that the Lebron and Wadeâ€™s combined values are hurt when playing together. However, adding the second player does also clearly make the Heat better, in case anyone had any doubts.
Miamiâ€™s preferred method to create shots: Lebron and Wade in pick and rolls and on the break
Lebron James and Dwyane Wade run the pick and roll very frequently and both excel at it. James averages 0.98 points per possession (6th in the NBA) and Wade averages an impressive 0.92 PPP on this play type. Both run this play about 6 times per game (not including plays where they pass out of to the roll man or the spot up shooter or cutter). Both players also excel at getting out on the break, scoring about 6 more points per game in the transition game.
Spurs counter: Bait Lebron into bad passes and force slashers into Duncan
Lebron James is once again in the running for MVP, but his transition to a new team appears to have diminished his efficiency (Chris Bosh has experienced the same effect to a lesser degree). Although it is normal for a player to lose effectiveness when switching teams, a player with better teammates and diminishing workload typically improves player efficiency. (Lebron and Wade must limit their shots when playing with each other.) Although Wade is duplicating his Offensive Rating of 113 from last season, Bosh is down from 117 to 113 and Lebronâ€™s offensive rating has plummeted from 121 to (a still impressive) 114. The primary difference in Lebronâ€™s effectiveness has been his passing.
I know itâ€™s crazy to suggest that the Spurs try to get one of the best passers in the game to give up the ball, but Lebron’s passing value has not been the same as in years past. Although his assist figures are still high, they are not of the same caliber. For example, Lebron averaged an impressive 4.0 assists at the rim last season. This year, that figure is below 2. (Assists at the rim are far more valuable largely because they typically reflect fewer unrecorded missed shots; note that assist type isnâ€™t differentiated in offensive rating.) Making matters worse, his turnovers are up from 3.4 to 3.7.
From the games Iâ€™ve watched this year, Lebron seems to make far too risky passes for low percentage plays. It is reasonable that he is still not as familiar with player and team tendencies as he was in Cleveland last season. The Spurs could benefit from trying to bait him into bad passes and even create easy transition scores.
If Lebron or Wade gets to the hoop, Tim Duncan is one of the best help defenders in the NBA. Duncanâ€™s blocks per 36 minutes are up from 1.7 to 2.6 despite lowering his foul rate to a career low 2.0 per 36. The Spurs in general are an excellent team at avoiding defensive fouls. It will be interesting to see if this can hold up against the combination of Wade and Lebron.
The Spurs also commit to defending the fast break. If they are able to limit the Heat’s high powered fast break, it will go a long way towards victory.
Spurs offensive game plan: Cuts, Roll Man and Offensive Rebounds
The Heat are an excellent defensive team. They don’t foul, defend isolation and the pick and roll ballhandler well. For all their “big man problems” they have had success defending the post this year. The Heat have struggled the most giving up too many cuts, scores for the roll man in the pick and roll and allowing too many offensive rebounds and putbacks.
The Heat’s weaknesses fit with many of DeJuan Blairâ€™s strengths. He is the Spurs most capable recipient of scores while rolling to the hoop and other cuts to the basket. Of course, Blair is also one of the best offensive rebounders in the league. The Spurs would be well served to pay more offensive attention to him than normal.
Manu Ginobili also becomes more important for this game and the upcoming stretch of games without Parker. Ginobili becomes the Spurs only real threat to set up those easy baskets by air delivery. George Hill is also excellent at getting his own basket, but his not in the same league as Manu or Parker at creating for others. Manu and Hill’s ability to get to the rim also makes the Spurs three point army better.
Miami: 6.72 (1st)
San Antonio: 6.44 (2nd)
Miami Player Ratings
|Player||GP||MPG||USG%||ORtg||DRtg||WS/48||2 Yr APM|
Spurs Player Ratings
|Player||G||MPG||USG%||Ortg||DRtg||WS/48||2 Yr APM|
Heat Player Trends
Three point shooters such as Jones typically have more wild swings in performance.
Spurs Player Trends
Arroyo, Wade, James, Bosh, Ilgauskas +103 in 428 minutes (+11.4 per 100 Poss)
Chalmers, Wade, James, Bosh, Dampier +60 in 132 minutes (-22.9 per 100)
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Blair, Duncan +139 in 648 minutes (+10.2 per 100)
Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, McDyess +65 in 94 minutes (+36.4 per 100)
The Spurs actually have a better scoring differential without Parker this season.
Spurs, toss up
This is a really tough one to pick, but I am once again picking the Spurs. I know Tony Parker is a significant missing piece, but the Heat will be playing the second of a back to back, the Spurs have home court advantage and Bibby shouldnâ€™t really be a significant contributor at this point. As good as Tony Parker is, his loss probably doesnâ€™t add up the Spurs advantages for this game.