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Spurs vs Pelicans - Study Hall: Spurs can't rebound in New Orleans

The Spurs outshot the Pelicans, but lost the rebounding and turnover battles badly to drop the 8th game in their last 11.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs at Pelicans Dec 26, '14

Spurs 90, Pelicans 97

Before I dig in, I have to say it's not easy writing up game summaries following losses.  Props to all the other writers who have been doing it for so much longer than I have.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Pelicans
Shooting (eFG%) 53% 45%
Ball Handling (TO%) 18% 8%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 3% 16%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 19% 29%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Pace (No. of Possessions) 96.4
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.93 1.01
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.20 1.15
2-PT FG% 50.8% 43.3%
3-PT FG% 42.9% 35.3%
FT% 71.4% 87.5%
True Shooting % 55.4% 51.3%
Offensive Rating 92.6 101.5
Defensive Rating 101.5 92.6
Net Rating -8.9 8.9
Spurs Pelicans
Passes / poss. 3.8 2.8
% of FGA uncontested 30.7% 40.5%
Points in the paint 48 46
Second chance points 2 6
Fast break points 8 6
Spurs Pelicans
Assists 25 25
Steals 2 8
Turnovers 17 8
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.59 4.13
Spurs Pelicans
Expected Offensive Rebounds 9.5 11.3
Offensive Rebounds 1 7
Difference -8.5 -4.3

  • BCI: Spurs 1.59, Pelicans 4.13.  I've followed this stat in college basketball for the middling Missouri Tigers for a long time, and 1.59 is bad even by college standards.  You want to see that value in the high 2s at least.  The Pelicans had 9 fewer turnovers.  You can overcome a turnover differential like that two ways: by shooting lights-out, or by absolutely pounding the boards.  Which brings me to point number 2.
  • One offensive rebound.  One!  Now, the Spurs are not a great Offensive Rebounding team, as Pop believes transition defense to be more important.  But an average-rebounding team with the number of misses the Spurs had tonight could have expected to net 9.5 offensive boards in the game.  The Spurs got 1.  I guess they were so focused on holding the Pelicans to a meager 6 points in transition that they didn't have time to grab more than a single offensive rebound.  They were fortunate that the Pelicans were also pretty terrible at 7 and -4.3, but that's 6 extra possessions the Pelicans got.
  • The Spurs actually outshot the Pelicans by a decent margin, averaging 1.20 points per shot to the Pelicans 1.15.  But when you take the -9 turnover margin and the -6 offensive rebounding mark, the Pelicans had about 15 extra possessions to work with.  The Spurs' +8 percentage points difference in eFG% wasn't close to being enough.  An interesting game would have been to take Tuesday's outrageous 70% eFG against the Clippers and see if it could balance out tonight's woeful BCI and Rebounding performances.  Kind of an unstoppable force/immovable object sort of scenario.  Alas, we will never know.
  • The Pelicans got open looks on 40.5% of their field goal attempts, which is a pretty decent mark.  Although the Spurs did a great job of containing Anthony Davis and contesting shots near the basket most of the game, they were actually pretty lucky the Pelicans were as cold from the field as they were.  It's a lot easier to hang around in a game when your opponent shoots 35% from 3 than when they scorch you for 60% as the Thunder did yesterday.  If the Pelicans had managed a better shooting effort, this game wouldn't have even had the appearance of being close.  Hear that, Spurs fans - we were actually lucky Friday night. Who knew?

Players (Definitions at bottom of post)

Cory Joseph 26.1 0.68 38 Min, 20 Pts (8-9 FG, 1-1 3PT, 3-4 FT,) 3 Reb (0 Off), 5 Ast, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 2 PF
Tim Duncan 25.1 0.73 34 Min, 20 Pts (8-14 FG, 4-4 FT,) 11 Reb (0 Off), 4 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 Stl, 4 TO, 2 PF
Manu Ginobili 11.7 0.44 26 Min, 12 Pts (5-10 FG, 2-5 3PT, ) 3 Reb (0 Off), 5 Ast, 3 TO, 1 PF
Boris Diaw 10.4 0.42 24 Min, 10 Pts (5-8 FG, ) 6 Reb (0 Off), 3 Ast, 2 TO, 3 PF
Marco Belinelli 10.3 0.32 32 Min, 13 Pts (6-14 FG, 1-4 3PT, 0-2 FT,) 3 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 PF
Aron Baynes 8.1 0.60 13 Min, 7 Pts (2-4 FG, 3-3 FT,) 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 PF
Danny Green 6.3 0.17 36 Min, 8 Pts (3-10 FG, 2-4 3PT, 0-1 FT,) 6 Reb (0 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 2 PF
Jeff Ayres 0.0 0.00 0 Min, 0 Pts ,
Tiago Splitter -0.6 -0.05 12 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG, ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 1 PF
Austin Daye -1.0 -0.28 3 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG, ) ,
Kyle Anderson -3.2 -0.34 9 Min, 0 Pts (0-4 FG, ) 3 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO,
Matt Bonner -3.2 -0.43 7 Min, 0 Pts , 1 TO, 3 PF
Plus Minus
Cory Joseph 18% 70% 2
Tim Duncan 28% 51% -2
Manu Ginobili 24% 42% -1
Boris Diaw 20% 50% -4
Marco Belinelli 23% 36% -8
Aron Baynes 20% 65% -5
Danny Green 17% 29% -10
Tiago Splitter 8% 27% 2
Kyle Anderson 24% 7% 3

An extremely impressive, efficient game from Cory Joseph, and yet another timeless performance from Tim Duncan were the only truly bright spots as everyone else was more of a mixed bag.  Or, in the cases of Ayres, Splitter, Day, Anderson and Bonner, an unmixed bag of meh.  (Although to be fair, Splitter should have had a couple of assists which didn't count due to botched finishes)

Duncan was amazing in the first quarter, scoring 10 of the Spurs' first 12 in the opening 6 minutes.  He was pretty quiet for other stretches, though and seemed to fade towards the end a bit as the game got out of hand.  Some fatigue may be at play as Duncan and Ginobili have been forced to player higher minute totals in the first part of the season than in any recent years.  

Cory Joseph continues to impress, racking up 20 points on nine shots (only 9 shots!) and dishing out 5 assists, with a Floor percentage of 70%.  That's beyond merely efficient into the realms of über-efficiency.  At one point he dribbled under the basket, then out along the baseline before turning and popping the open 15 footer in yet another uncanny Tony Parker impression.  As much as the Spurs miss TP, I think what hurts them more is that they no longer have Cory Joseph (or anyone, really) backing up their starting PG.  Not even having anything like a true PG in the second string really places a heavy load on Manu's slender shoulders.  And as wonderful as 10+ AST games from Ginobili are, you can't count on them night in, night out.

Spurs Index: 104.4 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 67.6% 32.7
Shooting (eFG%) 53.3% 19.9
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 84.4% 22.1
Defense (DefRtg) 101.5 19.7
% of FGA Uncontested 40.5% 10.1
Total 104.4

A note about the Spurs Index: The Spurs Index measures performance in some metrics which the Spurs are traditionally great at.  One thing the Spurs are not known for of course is offensive rebounding and limiting turnovers (they rank 25th and 13th in each category, respectively.  So when the Spurs do a good job in the 5 factors they're known for, but absolutely bomb in those 2, then voila!  You have it: a 100+ Spurs Index score for a game in which the Spurs really stunk.  Don't read too much into it, the Spurs Index is just for fun and isn't intended to measure the team's overall performance from all angles - just how much it aligns with what we all consider to be "Spurs-like" basketball.


Definitions (with major credit to Bill Connelly over at our sister blog Rock M Nation)

eFG%: Effective Field Goal percentage. (via) Effective Field Goal Percentage; the formula is (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA. This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes, while Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%).

AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game. The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.

Floor%: Via Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?". The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Offensive Rating (offRtg): Points per 100 possessions.

Defensive Rating (defRtg): Points allowed per 100 possessions.

Spurs Index: The Spurs Index © is a just-for-fun formula that attempts to quantify just how "Spursy" a particular game is, based off averages for the 2013-2014 regular season. A perfectly average game would have a Spurs Index of 100. The formula consists of four factors which the Spurs are known for and lead or nearly lead the league in: Shooting (effective Field Goal %), Passing (Assist percentage), Defensive Rebounding Rate, and Defensive Rating. These metrics are weighted as follows:

Factor Weight Average
Passing (AST%) 30% 62.1%
Shooting (eFG%) 20% 53.7%
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 20% 76.4%
Defense (DefRtg) 20% 100.1
% of FGA Uncontested 10% 40.8%
The values for each metric are determined based on how a particular game's performance compares to the Spurs 2013-2014 regular season average for that metric. For instance, the average effective Field Goal percentage for 2013-2014 was 53.7%. So if the Spurs shot 60% in a given game, the score for eFG% would be calculated by: (0.6 / 0.537) * 20, which would yield a "score" for that factor of 22.3.