Scout takes on NBA Finals: Heat vs. Spurs
by Synergy Sports and USA TODAY Sports, USA TODAY
How do you rate a team’s efficiency? For most, it comes down to shooting percentage and scoring balance. But Synergy Sports breaks down every play in the NBA season and analyzes statistics and trends based on per-possession information to better account for playing style. The scouting organization is used heavily by NBA, college and international teams.
So for the 2013 NBA Finals matchup between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, Synergy Sports and USA TODAY Sports break it down:
Heat offense vs. Spurs defense
The Heat can score. They shot an NBA-best 49.6% from the field in the regular season, and that has carried over to the playoffs, where they’ve shot an NBA-best 47.2%. But the game slows down in the postseason, and the Heat’s points per game have dropped from 102.9 in the regular season to 97.2 in the playoffs.
Synergy’s breakdown shows why the scoring has slowed. The Heat averaged 1.022 points per possession (PPP) in the regular season, best in the NBA. But that’s slipped to 0.986 PPP in the playoffs, still good enough to lead all teams. The Heat’s vaunted halfcourt offense, best in the NBA at 0.982 PPP, is down to 0.936 PPP in the playoffs. But Miami is having more success in transition, where their second-best 1.210 PPP in the regular season has elevated to 1.255 PPP in the playoffs.
That will be key against the Spurs’ defense, which stifles halfcourt offenses. San Antonio has the best halfcourt defense in the NBA, allowing 0.836 PPP. That’s a marked improvement from their sixth-best 0.857 PPP in halfcourt situations in the regular season.
The Spurs’ defense as a whole has elevated for the postseason. They ranked fourth in the NBA in allowing 0.895 PPP overall, while keeping opponents to 44.2% shooting and 96.6 points a game, 11th best because of their fast pace. But in the playoffs, they have buckled down. They give up 91.5 points a game on 42.0% shooting, all on the strength of 0.843 PPP, best in the NBA. They even have an answer now for the transition game. After finishing 11th in the NBA at 1.121 … [For more on Scout takes on NBA Finals: Heat vs. Spurs, in depth, click here.]