This year’s edition of the NBA Finals is bound to draw in a wide audience because of this storyline: Will Tim Duncan cement his legacy or will LeBron James start his?
In order to figure out the answer to this question, we need to look at some statistics from the regular season and postseason to see which team matches up better than the other. Here are the key points:
REGULAR SEASON STATS:
Miami didn’t like pounding it in between 0-8 feet, but were highly efficient when they did. Goes to show that they have good shot selection and they are well balanced all around. San Antonio was 5th in the league but took almost 500 more attempts from this range. Miami also led the league in FG% from 16-24 feet. San Antonio was 4th. From beyond the arc (24+ feet), Miami had the 2nd best FG% and San Antonio had the fourth best FG%. Moral of the story: both teams can shoot extremely well.
Defensively, San Antonio held opponents to 52.3 % from 0-8 feet range, fourth best in the league. Miami, as highlighted above, doesn’t pound it in often, but when they do they’re highly efficient. They don’t have a dominant big, so they may be better suited to shoot from outside in this series. San Antonio had the 3rd worst mid-range defense this season as they allowed 41.7 percent of all shots in the 16-24 range to go in. Miami, on the other hand, allowed the fifth lowest FG% from this range. Both teams had average 3-point defense. Moral of the story: Biggest matchup so far is Miami’s strength in the mid-range against San Antonio’s suspect mid range defense.
Have the trends continued in the playoffs?
The regular season was almost two months ago. A lot has changed since then so we need to look at how these two teams have fared in the same categories in the playoffs.
San Antonio’s 0-8 feet range defense has continued to be dominant having only allowed 51.8% of shots to go in from that range. Miami’s has also been solid, allowing 53.1 percent of shots to go in from that range. Both teams continue to have solid three point defense. San Antonio has surrendered just 34 percent of threes and Miami, just 32.9 percent. The biggest factor, though, comes from the 16-24 range. San Antonio has failed to clean up its act on mid range defense. They have allowed 40 percent of all shots from the 16-24 foot range to go in. That said, Miami hasn’t dominated the mid range like it did in the regular season offensively. They’ve only made 37.6 percent of shots from there. Moral of the story: The series will likely be won by the team that performs better mid range.
Neither of these teams have a glaring weakness on both sides of the ball in terms of specific plays.
Miami O-Rank: 1st, D-Rank 12th
SA O-Rank: 5th, D-Rank 14th
Miami O-Rank: 2nd, D-Rank 9th
SA: O-Rank: 1st, D-Rank 1st
Pick and Roll Ball Handler plays:
Miami O-Rank: 7th, D-Rank 1st
SA: O-Rank: 7th, D-Rank 11th
Pick and Roll Man plays:
Miami O-Rank: 2nd, D-Rank 1st
SA O-Rank: 4th, D-Rank 11th
Miami O-Rank 1st, D-Rank 26th
SA O-Rank 11th, D-Rank 3rd
Offensively, Miami has a slight advantage on spot up and pick and roll plays. Meanwhile, San Antonio look to their post up game to beat the Heat. At the end of the day, whatever advantage there is in these specific plays is slight, but it’ll be smarter for the Heat to use their shooting ability and for the Spurs to use their size advantage if they want to take this series.
That said, it looks like Miami’s shooting touch and their ability to take over a game at any point will be the difference maker in this series. Once again, San Antonio does not defend jumpers well. Miami will need help from players other than LeBron James, but if they do, the Heat should battle out a hard earned series win.
PREDICTION: Miami in 7.