Stats & Info: Miami Heat

4-point play: Irving's 3s key for Cavaliers

February, 11, 2015
Feb 11

Kathy Willens/APThe Cavaliers’ chances are better when 3-pointers are a greater percentage of Kyrie Irving’s points.
The 4-Point Play looks at four analytics-based storylines that will make you smarter when watching Wednesday’s game between the Miami Heat (18th in BPI) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (10th in BPI). Our BPI gives the Cavaliers a 71 percent chance of winning (8 p.m. ET, ESPN):

1. The Heat have the 16th-ranked offense in the NBA, and they score by getting to the free throw line and generating a high rate of midrange shots (20 percent of their points are from midrange). The Cavaliers have the 20th-ranked defense, but they have the lowest foul rate in the league, and that should help them slow the Heat’s offense.

2. The Cavaliers have the fifth-best offense in the league, and the Heat rank 21st in defense. The Cavaliers score by taking a high rate of paint and 3-point shots as well as getting to the line. Defensively, the Heat have struggled keeping opponents out of the paint, so they probably will struggle with the Cavaliers.

3. The Cavaliers’ offense is more effective when Kyrie Irving is parked out on the 3-point line. In wins this season, 33 percent of Irving’s points have come from 3-pointers and 31 percent have come in the paint. In losses this season, 29 percent of his points have come from 3s and 35 percent have come from the paint.

4. The Heat are among the slowest teams in the NBA, but they play better fast. When they play at 95 possessions per 48 minutes or faster, they have won 71 percent of their games. When they play slower than that, they have won 41 percent.

4-point play: Duncan still defensive stalwart

February, 6, 2015
Feb 6

Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesTim Duncan continues to carry the Spurs defense as San Antonio welcomes a new-look Miami team.
The 4-Point Play looks at the four analytics-based storylines that will make you smarter when watching Friday’s game between the Miami Heat (18th in BPI) and the San Antonio Spurs (sixth in BPI). Our BPI gives the Spurs a 74 percent chance of winning (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN):

1. Tim Duncan continues to be an elite defensive stopper. Duncan and Pau Gasol are the only players in the league with more than 1000 minutes, more than two blocks per 36 minutes, fewer than three fouls per 36 minutes and a defensive rebound percentage above 25 percent.

2. The Spurs average 11 turnovers per 100 possessions. When San Antonio turns the ball over lower than that rate, it wins 85 percent of its games. When they are above that level, the Spurs win 55 percent of their games.

3. The Heat play at the slowest pace in the league, averaging 91.8 possessions per 48 minutes. But they do better when they play faster. Miami has won 38 percent of games played at that pace or slower and won 55 percent of games played at a faster pace.

4. The Heat currently have a 67 percent chance of making the playoffs despite a below average offense and defense, due largely to having the easiest schedule remaining for the rest of the season in the league.

Hassan Whiteside does a lot in a little time

January, 25, 2015
Jan 25

David Banks/USA TodayHassan Whiteside (21) set a Heat franchise record with 12 blocked shots.
A player who entered this season with 19 games of NBA experience had one of the most impressive all-around games in Miami Heat history Sunday.

Hassan Whiteside came off the bench for the Heat and registered 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in their 96-84 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Whiteside became the first player with at least 12 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in a game since Shawn Bradley in 1997-98 with the Dallas Mavericks. In the past 25 years, the only other players to meet those marks have been Shaquille O'Neal (1993-94, with the Orlando Magic) and Dikembe Mutombo (1992-93, Denver Nuggets). Like Whiteside, Bradley came off the bench when he had his triple-dozen.

Whiteside broke the Heat franchise record of nine blocked shots (done by Alonzo Mourning six times). He had the first triple-double that includes blocked shots since Joakim Noah, who had 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocked shots on Feb. 28, 2013.

All 12 of Whiteside’s blocked shots were within six feet of the basket. Seven came when he was a help defender.

Taj Gibson was particularly affected by Whiteside. Five of Gibson’s 10 shots were blocked by Whiteside. No team had blocked five Gibson shots in a game before Sunday.

Whiteside's defense helped the Heat hold the Bulls to their third-worst field goal shooting percentage (35.6 percent) this season. The Bulls shot 33.3 percent in a loss to the Utah Jazz on Jan. 7 and 34.5 percent in a victory at Indiana on Dec. 29.

Whiteside played 19 games with the Sacramento Kings in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and was out of the NBA for two seasons. He became the eighth player in Heat history to post a triple-double, joining LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, O’Neal, Lamar Odom, Billy Owens, Steve Smith and Rory Sparrow.

Whiteside got all of that accomplished in 25 minutes on the court. The last player with 12 or more blocks in 25 minutes or less was Manute Bol in March 1989 for the Golden State Warriors against the Portland Trail Blazers (13 blocks in 20 minutes).

Can Wade still bring the heat?

July, 16, 2014

Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsDwyane Wade could be expected to take on a larger role in Miami without LeBron James.
Dwyane Wade reportedly signed a two-year deal Tuesday to stay with the Miami Heat. Let’s take a look back at where he's excelled and where he's struggled in Miami.

The Good: Paint Scorer & Efficient
• Wade shot a career-high 54.5 percent from the field last season, and much of that was due to his ability to score in the paint. Wade led all guards with 10.5 points in the paint per game last season. Additionally, his 64.1 field goal percentage in the paint was fifth in the NBA and best among all guards with at least 300 paint FG attempts last season.

• Wade posted a 22.0 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) last season, his 10th straight season with a PER at or above 20. Tim Duncan and LeBron James are the only other players with a PER of 20 or better in each of the last 10 seasons.

The Bad: 3-Pointers & Health
• For all his prowess in the paint, Wade has never been much of a 3-point shooter. He has never shot higher than 31.7 percent from beyond the arc in his career.

• With the exception of the 2010-11 season, Wade went out of his way not to shoot many 3-pointers during the Big 3 era. He attempted fewer 3-pointers over the last three seasons combined (154) than he did in all of 2010-11 (206). Last season, Wade made a career-low nine 3-pointers in 54 games while also attempting a career-low 32 3-pointers. Among guards to start at least 50 games last season, only Shaun Livingston (6) attempted fewer threes than Wade.

• Wade has struggled to remain healthy recently, particularly last season when he missed 28 games. Wade played in just three games on no rest (i.e. back-to-back situations), averaging 13.3 PPG in those games. By comparison, Wade played in 17 such games in the 2010-11 season, scoring 28.5 PPG in those games. His average in those situations has declined in each of the last four seasons.

• Perhaps four straight runs to the NBA Finals took a toll on Wade's body. As further evidence that he might be wearing down, Wade's 2014 Finals average of 15.2 PPG was the lowest of his NBA Finals career (5th Finals appearance).

What's ahead for the Heat

June, 17, 2014

Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/MCT/Getty ImagesThe Miami Heat lost in the NBA Finals this season, and might have a whole new look next year.
Not long after the buzzer sounded to end Game 5 of the NBA Finals and the 2013-14 NBA season, the talk turned to the future for the Miami Heat and who would be on their roster for next season.

The Heat have had tremendous success in the “Big Three” era, reaching the NBA Finals in each year, just the fourth team in NBA history to have a run of four consecutive Finals NBA appearances.. With a return trip next year, the Heat would join the 1957-66 Boston Celtics as teams to make five consecutive NBA Finals trips. Those Celtics reached 10 straight finals, winning nine titles.

However, the Heat that take the floor to start next season might have a different look, as all three of the team’s marquee players: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, have early-termination options and can become unrestricted free agents.

Norris Cole is the only player on Miami’s roster that has a guaranteed contracted next season ($2M), although Udonis Haslem ($4.6M) and Chris Andersen ($1.4M) each have player options to return. Shane Battier is also retiring, and Ray Allen’s NBA future, with Miami or any other team, is uncertain.

Early talk in the offseason has centered around the Heat possibly bringing in Carmelo Anthony, who reportedly will opt out of the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks.

The most realistic scenario for the Heat to sign Anthony would be for James, Wade and Bosh to all opt out of their contracts and re-sign with the club for a starting salary of around $14M, or more than $6M less than they would’ve made by not opting out.

That would allow Miami to bring in Anthony for around that figure as well. If Anthony doesn’t opt out, he’d make $23.3M in the final season of his contract with the Knicks.

The Knicks can offer Anthony a five-year, $129M deal this summer, while any other team could give him up to four years and $96M. So the odds of a “Big Three” becoming a “Big Four” seem unlikely.

If James, Wade and Bosh all return, Cole’s contract alone will take the Heat slightly over the projected salary cap ($63.2M), so Miami’s best free agency tool will be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. That would allow the Heat to sign any free agent to a contract with a starting salary up to $5.3M.

MVP Leonard does it all

June, 16, 2014

Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsKawhi Leonard dominated the final three games of the NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points and recorded 10 rebounds Sunday night in the Spurs' 104-87 Game 5 victory en route to winning the NBA Finals MVP. At 22 years, 351 days old, he's the third-youngest recipient of that award since the NBA began handing it out in 1969.

He's also the fifth-youngest player to record at least 20 points and grab 10 boards in a series-clinching NBA Finals game and the youngest to do that since Kobe Bryant in 2001 (22 years, 296 days).

But his performance in Game 5 transcends regular box score stats. Let's take a look at his contributions.

On offense

Leonard led the Spurs in scoring the final three games of the series after scoring nine points in each of the first two games.

His offensive impact became greater when he started to attack the basket.

Leonard had just two points in the paint on seven drives in Games 1 and 2 combined. In Games 3-5, he scored 24 points on 19 drives.

He also led the Spurs in 3-point shooting in the Finals, shooting 58 percent. Leonard was a team-best 10-of-18 (56 percent) on catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts.

Better yet, he stepped it up against the Heat's best player. Leonard shot 65 percent when guarded by LeBron James in the series.

On defense

Game 5 was another reminder of Leonard’s defensive impact on James.

James attempted only one shot against Leonard in the first quarter Sunday, which in part led to him shooting 5-of-7 (71 percent) in the quarter. James was unable to get away from Leonard consistently afterward, however, shooting 6-of-14 (43 percent) the rest of the game.

Leonard's defense on James in the series was key. James shot 57.6 percent against him, but he wasn’t always able to get his shot off or even get the ball.

Only 19 percent of James' touches against Leonard in the Finals resulted in a James field goal attempt. Against all other defenders, that rate jumped to 33 percent.

LeBron was held without a touch on 33 percent of the Heat's possessions when he was guarded by Leonard. Against all other defenders, he was held without a touch 23 percent of the time.

When Leonard did find himself on someone other than James, his defense was still strong. The rest of the Heat shot 28 percent (5-of-18) against Leonard in the Finals.

Double teams hurting the Heat defense

June, 14, 2014

Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel/Getty ImagesThe Heat defense has really struggled against the Spurs in the Finals.

The Miami Heat defense has been out of sorts in the 2014 NBA Finals – so much out of sorts that the San Antonio Spurs are on pace for the highest effective field-goal percentage in an NBA Finals series since the 3-point line was implemented.

Why are the Heat struggling so much defensively?

Drives to the basket

In the 2013 NBA Finals, the Heat stayed home on shooters when the Spurs drove to the basket.

The Heat aren't allowing any more drives than they did last year. The Spurs averaged 33.7 drives per game in last year's Finals and 33 per game this year.

The difference is how often they’re passing the ball: The Spurs passed the ball on 24 percent of their drives in last year's Finals. This year, the Spurs are passing the ball on 36 percent of their drives.

Too many double-teams

The Spurs are passing the ball more often on drives because the Heat are double-teaming the Spurs so often and leaving guys open.

With how adept the Spurs are at moving the ball, the Heat double-teams have been ineffective.

The Heat are switching defenders on virtually every screen in this series. Because of that, they find themselves often doubling the ball, whether it’s a hard double or a hedge.

When the Heat double-team the Spurs, just over half of the Spurs half-court field-goal attempts are uncontested. But when the Heat don't double the ball at all, only 18 percent of the Spurs half-court field-goal attempts are uncontested.

The Spurs effective field-goal percentage is 79 when the Heat double-team the ball in the half-court this series (including 55 percent on 3-pointers), compared to a 52 effective field-goal percentage when they don’t double.

Imagine if the Heat could play straight up defense without doubling the ball and without giving up any open shots. It sounds like a pipe dream, but the Heat are holding the Spurs to a 49 effective field-goal percentage on those shots. By comparison, the Spurs have been nearly twice as prolific (89 effective field-goal percentage) when the Heat double and leave a shooter open.

Based on these numbers, perhaps the Heat should rethink their strategy of switching on every screen and getting caught doubling the ball.

Stats to know: More dominance for Spurs

June, 13, 2014
The San Antonio Spurs shooting wasn’t quite as impressive as it was in Game 3. But their blowout win against the Miami Heat in Game 4 was a near-match

The Spurs have won three straight road games after starting 2-5 on the road this postseason. They snapped the Heat’s streak of 48 consecutive games without consecutive playoff losses (third-best all-time) and the Heat’s 13-game playoff win streak following a loss.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the Spurs join the 1977 Trail Blazers as the only teams to win back-to-back games by 19 or more points in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs are one win shy of their fifth NBA title. They are 10-0 under Gregg Popovich in best-of-7 series when taking a 3-1 lead. The Heat trail a series 3-1 for the first time in their Big 3 era.

Difference-Maker: Kawhi Leonard
For the second straight game, Kawhi Leonard played on a level unlike any he’d played before.

Leonard finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots. He’s the first player to put up that stat line in an NBA Finals game since his teammate, Tim Duncan, did so in 2003. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the only other player to hit all those benchmarks in a Finals game since blocks and steals became official in 1974 was Hakeem Olajuwon in 1986

Leonard had his 11th career postseason double-double. Five of those have come against the Heat.

Spurs shred the Heat in many ways
The Spurs dominated this game with both power and precision. They shot 74 percent in the paint (23 for 31).

They also were 10 for 14 on shots that came off possessions in which they made at least five passes.

LeBron does his best, but gets little help
LeBron James tried to spark a Heat comeback attempt, but his efforts came up well short. James had 19 of the Heat’s 21 points in the third quarter and 28 of their first 57 points in the game.

James was 10 for 17 from the field. The other Heat starters were 11 for 34.

The Spurs did a good job containing James in the first half. His average shot distance in the first two quarters was 18 feet.

Milestones for Duncan
Tim Duncan became the NBA’s all-time postseason leader in two stats- most minutes played, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and postseason double-doubles. His 158 are one more than Magic Johnson.

Looking Ahead
Only eight teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit in any best-of-7 series. The last was the 2006 Phoenix Suns against the Lakers. No team in NBA Finals history has overcome a 3-1 series deficit.

Top stats to know: Spurs win Game 3

June, 11, 2014

The Spurs were amazing in the first half of Game 3.
The San Antonio Spurs had one of those once in a lifetime nights shooting the basketball on their way to a Game 3 win in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs made 19 of their first 21 and 25 of their first 33 shots from the field, giving them a lead large enough to withstand the Heat’s repeated comeback attempts. Their 76 percent shooting in the first half set a Finals record for field-goal percentage in any half.

The Spurs lead the series 2-1 and have won consecutive road games for the first time this postseason.

The Heat had their franchise-record 11-game home playoff win streak snapped. This was their first home playoff loss since Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals. The first three wins in the streak had been Games 2, 6 and 7 in last year’s Finals against the Spurs.

Offensive Key: Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 29 points for the Spurs on 10 of 13 shooting from the field.

Leonard had only three first-quarter points in the first two games of this series, but had 16 in Game 3.

Leonard and Danny Green led the driving attack for the Spurs. The duo combined to shoot 7-of-7 with 14 points on 14 drives in Game 3. In the first two games the duo combined for 1-of-4 shooting with 4 points on 12 drives.

The Elias Sports Bureau noted that the only players to score more points in a Finals game than Kawhi Leonard's 29 at the age of 22 or younger are Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Alvan Adams, and Tommy Heinsohn.
Defensive Key: Containing Bosh
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each scored 22 points for the Heat, but Chris Bosh was held to only nine points.

Bosh had 39 touches of the basketball on the offensive end in Game 1 and 40 in Game 2, but was held to only 12 in 34 minutes in Game 3.

James had his streak of six straight 25-point NBA Finals games come to an end. His seven turnovers were an NBA Finals career high.

James did join Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Kobe Bryant as the only players in NBA history to rank in the top 10 in postseason points & assists.

The Spurs were fortunate in one regard
The Heat shot 52 percent from the field. Entering the night, Miami was 146-14 in the Big 3 Era (since 2010-11) when shooting 50 percent or better in any game, including 85-7 at home.

Looking Ahead
The Heat are 2-0 in postseason series when trailing 2-1 in the James-Wade-Bosh era. The Spurs are 15-3 in best-of-7 series when leading 2-1 in the Gregg Popovich era. One of those losses was in last year’s Finals.

The Game 3 winner of a tied NBA Finals series goes on to win the series 83 percent of the time (30-6). Last year, however, the Spurs and Heat were tied 1-1 - San Antonio won Game 3 but went on to lose the series.

But also of note from Elias: When the home team lost Game 3 of an NBA Finals that was tied 1-1, it won the title only 10 percent of the time (2 of 20).

Bosh hot from three-point range

June, 10, 2014
The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have combined to make 45 three-point field goals in this series (25 by San Antonio, 20 by Miami).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most three-pointers made through the first two games of an NBA Finals series. The previous best came in 1995 when Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic combined for 38.

Of all the hot shooters in this series, Chris Bosh has been the most on fire from behind the arc.

Chris Bosh
Bosh from downtown
Chris Bosh is averaging 18.0 points on 59.1 percent shooting this series and has connected on 4-of-6 shots from downtown – including a clutch three-pointer with 1:17 remaining in Game 2 to put the Heat up for good, 95-93.

After averaging just 13.2 points over his first 12 games this postseason, Bosh is putting up 21.2 points over his last five.

Bosh leads the Heat in three-point makes this postseason with 29, one more than Ray Allen. He’s shooting 43.3 percent from beyond the arc and a little over a third of his shots have come from three-point range this postseason (67-200).

Take a look at how his three-point game has evolved over the years.

Back in the 2011 playoffs, Bosh attempted 291 shots – and only four were of the three-point variety.

Bosh in clutch time
This postseason Chris Bosh is tied for the fourth most three-point field goals attempted in clutch time situations (last five minutes of the fourth Quarter or overtime with the score within five points) with nine. He is 3-for-9 from three-point range and 4-for-11 overall from the field in those games.

During the regular season, Bosh had the fourth highest three-point field goal percentage in clutch time situations throughout the NBA (among players with a minimum of 20 three-point field goal attempts). He shot 16-for-31, making 51.6 percent of those threes.

Game 3 notes
• The Spurs are 9-5 in Game 3s of a best-of-7 series when the series is tied 1-1 in the Gregg Popovich era.

• The Heat are 3-0 in Game 3s at home when the series is tied 1-1 in the James-Wade—Bosh era (since 2011 playoffs). Miami has gone on to win each of the last six series in which they were tied 1-1. The last time they lost a series in which they were tied 1-1 was in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

• Should Miami win Game 3 – the Heat have won each of the last six series in which they led 2-1. Their last such series loss was the 2011 NBA Finals.

• Should Miami lose Game 3 – the Heat have a 2-0 series record when trailing 2-1 in the James-Wade-Bosh era. Miami fell behind 2-1 against Indiana in the 2012 Conference Semifinals and then proceeded to win the next 3 games to close out the series. The Heat also fell behind 2-1 in the 2013 NBA Finals against the Spurs, but rallied back to win in 7.

Another epic game for LeBron James

June, 8, 2014
This was another night to add to the long list of games that will make up LeBron James’ legacy when his career concludes someday far into the future.

Here are the statistical highlights.

• James finished with 35 points, 33 coming in the final three quarters, and 10 rebounds. He was 1 for 4 from the field in the first quarter, but 13 for 18 from the field in the final three quarters. James made eight second-half shots from outside the paint in the second half after not making any in the first half.

• The Miami Heat outscored the San Antonio Spurs by 11 points and shot 60 percent from the field with James on the floor in Game 2. They were outscored by nine points and shot 29 percent from the field when he was on the bench.

The average Heat shot came from 11.5 feet away with James on the floor. It came from 16 feet away when he was on the bench.

James went 8 if 11 from 10-plus feet in the second half Sunday. His teammates went 8 of 26 on those attempts for the entire game.

• James is the first player with 35 points and 10 rebounds in a Finals win on the road since Dwyane Wade in 2006. There’s a pretty good precedent for players putting up 35 and 10 in a road win in the NBA Finals going on to big things. Michael Jordan (1993), Shaquille O’Neal (2000 and 2002) and Dwyane Wade (2006) all captured Finals MVP honors after doing so. They’re the only others to have such a game in the last 30 seasons.

• The Heat are now 15-1 in the postseason when James has at least 30 points and 10 rebounds. The one loss was to the Celtics in 2012.

AP Photo/Kevin C. CoxWhat can the Spurs learn from guarding LeBron in last year's NBA Finals?

Do the San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals hopes hinge on simply stopping LeBron James?

The stats from last year’s NBA Finals would suggest so. But how should the Spurs handle controlling James and what can be learned from last year’s NBA Finals, when the Spurs gave James plenty of cushion on the perimeter?

Over or under the screen?
Because of James’ decision making, going over or under the screen is almost a moot point.

When James was the pick-and-roll ball handler last NBA Finals, the Spurs went over the screen 58 percent of the time and under the screen 42 percent of the time. The Heat were almost equally efficient in either scenario.

When the Spurs went under a James pick-and-roll, James shot more but as a team the Heat went 10-of-20 with 1.08 points per play.

When the Spurs went over a James pick-and-roll, James passed more but as a team the Heat went 11-of-23 with 1.03 points per play.

Giving too big of a cushion
The Spurs were able to limit damage on James' drives last NBA Finals, holding him to 40 percent shooting on those plays. To put that into perspective, James shot 64 percent on drives this regular season and is shooting 69 percent this postseason, both according to Player Tracking Data.

But giving James spaces to shoot didn’t work out as well as the Spurs may have planned, as he made 50 percent of his uncontested jumpers.

Who should guard LeBron?James’ three most common defenders in the half-court offense last NBA Finals were Kawhi Leonard (44 percent of plays), Boris Diaw and Danny Green (15 percent each).

James had his best success against Leonard, who may be the closest physically to James. Against the smaller Danny Green and thicker Boris Diaw, James struggled.

James vs. Green
Green’s quickness helped keep James away from the basket. James was able to drive on Green only four times in the series, and had a higher rate of taking jump shots off the dribble against Green than anyone else, going 2-of-9 on those attempts. James was also unable to get to the line against Green, drawing only two shooting fouls against him.

James vs. Diaw
James went 3-of-21 when guarded by Diaw last postseason and averaged 0.40 points per play (he averaged nearly 1.0 point per play against everyone else). Diaw’s size and speed created major problems for James. James was 1-of-6 posting up Diaw, 1-of-5 when driving on him and 1-of-10 when guarded by him outside 10 feet.

James vs. Leonard
James didn’t shoot well on drives against Leonard (2-of-7 FG), but found other ways to score.

James answered the inability to drive by posting up more, shooting 6-of-11 when posting up Leonard (2-of-14 versus all other Spurs).

When James had to shoot over Leonard, he started to do so with a quicker release. Only five of his 14 jump shots against Leonard in Games 1-3 were uncontested last Finals, but in the final four games of the series, 13 of his 22 jumpers against him were uncontested. James shot 50 percent overall (41.7 percent from the 3-point line) on uncontested jumpers against the Spurs last Finals.

Top stats to know: Heat advance to Finals

May, 30, 2014
The 2014 conference finals have been filled with lopsided games. None may have felt more lopsided than this series clincher by the Miami Heat over the Indiana Pacers on Friday.

The Heat romped behind their Big Three to advance to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season.

The history
The Heat are the first team to reach four straight NBA Finals since the Boston Celtics in 1984-87.

They improved to 10-0 at home in potential series-clinching games in the James-Wade-Bosh era and 9-1 at home against the Pacers over the past two seasons (this was their seventh straight win).

They’ve won 12 straight home playoff games following a loss.

LeBron James turns it around
LeBron James was more aggressive in Game 6, driving a team-high 14 times and generating 18 points off those drives. James drove only five times in Game 5 partly due to foul trouble, yielding no points on those plays.

James didn’t let Lance Stephenson get to him in Game 6, as Stephenson took on a bigger role guarding him.

James scored nine of his 15 points against Stephenson on drives in Game 6 after recording no points off drives against him in the first five games.

James was 8-for-12 from the field (67 percent), his best field goal percentage in a potential series-clinching game in his playoff career.

Pacers didn’t get the contributions they needed early
David West and Lance Stephenson combined to make nine of their first 12 shots for the Pacers.

The problem was that their teammates to that point were a combined 1-for-16 and had only three points.

The Heat were up by 26 points at halftime. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that was the largest lead they’ve ever had at halftime of a playoff game.

Looking ahead
The Heat went 1-1 against both the Thunder and Spurs this season. Should the Heat face the Spurs, it would be the first NBA Finals rematch since the Chicago Bulls faced the Utah Jazz and won both series, in 1997 and 1998.

Elias notes that when the Heat take the court in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James will join Bob McAdoo and Dennis Johnson as the only players in NBA history to play in the NBA Finals in each of their first four seasons with a new team.

LeBron made the right decision

May, 29, 2014
Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers, LeBron James had the ball in his hands with fewer than 10 seconds remaining and a two-point deficit. He was able to get into the lane, but rather than take the potential game-tying or go-ahead shot, he passed it to Chris Bosh who was spotting up in the corner.

While some may say that LeBron should have taken the shot with the game on the line, the numbers in the Big Three era (since 2010-11) suggest that James made the right decision by passing to Bosh.

Entering Game 5, Bosh was 3-for-6 on game-tying or go-ahead shots with fewer than five seconds remaining since joining the Heat in the summer of 2010, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.

On the flip side, James was only 3-for-18 on such shots since taking his talents to South Beach.

Was there another reason LeBron didn’t want to take the final shot?
In addition to the fact Roy Hibbert was waiting for LeBron at the rim, James was just 1-for-5 (20.0 percent) in the paint in Game 5, tied for his lowest shooting percentage in the paint in any career playoff game.

According to player tracking data from, this postseason opponents are shooting just 42 percent against Hibbert at the rim. That's tied for third best amongst players who face at least four field goal attempts at the rim per game this postseason.

Bad day at the office
James played the worst game of his postseason career (even though foul trouble had a lot to do with that). He scored just seven points, the fewest he has scored in 152 career playoff games. He also grabbed just two rebounds, second fewest in his playoff career.

In all, James scored or assisted on 19 of the Heat’s 90 points. That is the lowest percentage of points he has ever accounted for in a playoff game.

Not Quite Like Mike
This was the second time in James’ career he was held to single digits in a playoff game. Michael Jordan was never held to single digits in 179 career playoff games.

In fact, the fewest points Jordan ever scored in a playoff game was 15. James was held below 20 points for the 20th time in a playoff game; that happened to Jordan just six times.

For one night: George > James

May, 29, 2014

Paul George had a huge second half for the Pacers.

Paul George kept the Indiana Pacers' season alive with a LeBron James-like performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

But for James, it was a night he’ll want to put out of his mind as soon as possible.

The Pacers extended the series to Game 6 in Miami by winning their eighth home game in their last 10 tries against the Heat. This marked the first time the Heat lost a Game 5 when leading 3 games to 1 since James and Bosh joined the team (they were 7-0 entering the day).

Curious about George?
George scored 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter and combined with David West to score the final 36 points of the game for the Pacers.

George made 8 of 10 shots from the field in the final 12 minutes after going 7 for 18 in the first three quarters. The 21 fourth-quarter points were the most he’s scored in any quarter in his career.

George did most of his damage late in the game with Dwyane Wade defending. George was 10-of-14 overall against Wade Wednesday, including 5-of-6 in the fourth quarter. He was 2-for-10 against all other defenders (and 3-of-4 in transition).

Wade played tight defense on George, contesting every jump shot George attempted against him. George still managed to shoot 8-of-11 when Wade contested his jumper.

Not a good day for LeBron
James committed five fouls within the first three quarters of a game for the first time in his career and finished with a career postseason low seven points.

It was the second time he was held to single digit scoring in his career.

James drove to the basket only five times in the game and was 0-for-4 on those drives with a turnover. The Heat had averaged 10.5 points per game on his drives in the first four games of the series.

For those who enjoy comparing James to Michael Jordan, here’s a stat to keep in mind. Jordan scored at least 15 points in every playoff game in which he played. James didn't reach half that number in Game 5.

Looking Ahead
The Heat are 9-0 at home in potential series-clinching games in the James-Wade-Bosh era.