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Spurs overcome poor shooting with ball control and Tony Parker resurgence

The Spurs shot pretty poorly, at 34.8% 3pt and 41.5% 2pt, but dominated the ball control battle and earned a hard-fought win over the Kings.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 107, Kings 96 - Feb 27, '15

The Spurs started ice cold on Friday, falling behind by double digits in the first quarter, but spent the rest of the game improving their percentages and taking impeccable care of the ball, finally establishing a comfortable lead mid-way through the 4th quarter and holding the Kings off until the buzzer.  

The Spurs wound up shooting 5 percentage points lower in effective Field Goal percentage than the 3 point-eschewing Kings, but rebounding slightly better, shot free throws at an excellent clip and percentage, and completely dominated the ball control battle, earning themselves over a dozen more scoring opportunities than their opponent, which was more than enough to overcome the shooting percentage disadvantage over the course of the game.

The Spurs couldn't hit the broadside of a red barn anywhere outside the restricted area and inside the 3 point line, but were effective enough from point blank and deep to match the Kings, once you factor in all the extra looks.

The Spurs played active pressure defense and forced the Kings into 17 turnovers while committing an incredibly 5 of their own.  The good guys finished with almost 5x the Kings' BCI: a dizzying 5.20 to the Kings' meagre 1.06.  That's the largest margin I've ever seen in this metric.  Most of that margin is due to the remarkably low turnover mark, as the Spurs actually assisted on relatively few possessions (by Spurs standards), only netting 18 assists, well below their 24.2 season average.  

The ballhandling advantage was really the only advantage of any significance the Spurs enjoyed, and it shows just how key ball control can be - the Kings outshot the Spurs and fought to a draw in everything other metric, but their inability to control the ball or garner, like any steals sealed their fate in this one.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Kings
Shooting (eFG%) 44% 49%
Ball Handling (TO%) 6% 17%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 20% 18%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 36% 29%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Kings
Pace (No. of Possessions) 98.6
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.09 0.97
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.22 1.22
2-PT FG% 41.5% 49.3%
3-PT FG% 34.8% 25.0%
FT% 90.6% 82.6%
True Shooting % 52.4% 53.9%
Offensive Rating 109.1 96.9
Defensive Rating 96.9 109.1
Net Rating 12.2 -12.2
Spurs Kings
Passes / poss. 3.2 2.5
% of FGA uncontested 45.5% 31.6%
Points in the paint 40 50
Second chance points 10 8
Fast break points 19 20
Spurs Kings
Assists 18 15
Steals 8 3
Turnovers 5 17
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
5.20 1.06
Spurs Kings
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12.5 9.8
Offensive Rebounds 10 7
Difference -2.5 -2.8


Spurs Shot Chart

Kings Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)


Kawhi Leonard 36 20.7 0.57 17 Pts (7-14 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-2 FT) 7 Reb (1 Off), 5 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 Stl, 3 PF 18% 62% 113.3 104.2 9.1
Tony Parker 30 18.4 0.62 19 Pts (7-16 FG, 1-2 3PT, 4-4 FT) 5 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 26% 58% 122.7 111.8 10.9
Manu Ginobili 20 15.3 0.78 16 Pts (6-10 FG, 2-5 3PT, 2-2 FT) 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 Blk, 1 PF 25% 66% 121.0 84.4 36.6
Aron Baynes 18 10.0 0.57 8 Pts (1-3 FG, 6-6 FT) 1 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 2 PF 14% 83% 98.9 85.2 13.6
Tim Duncan 29 9.3 0.32 12 Pts (4-13 FG, 4-6 FT) 6 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO 26% 43% 123.3 105.3 18.1
Tiago Splitter 24 8.9 0.37 6 Pts (2-8 FG, 2-3 FT) 9 Reb (3 Off), 3 Blk, 1 Stl, 1 PF 16% 34% 107.5 111.3 -3.8
Danny Green 12 8.4 0.70 8 Pts (2-5 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-2 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 4 Stl, 3 TO, 4 PF 29% 40% 130.5 100.2 30.4
Marco Belinelli 27 5.7 0.21 8 Pts (1-6 FG, 1-4 3PT, 5-5 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 1 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 16% 42% 100.1 84.4 15.8
Boris Diaw 20 5.5 0.28 7 Pts (3-7 FG, 1-3 3PT ) 3 Reb (2 Off), 1 PF 16% 43% 105.2 70.1 35.1
Patty Mills 8 3.6 0.44 4 Pts (2-4 FG, 0-2 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 23% 56% 114.2 115.4 -1.2
Cory Joseph 12 1.8 0.15 2 Pts (0-1 FG, 2-2 FT) , 1 Stl, 2 PF 7% 62% 53.5 68.7 -15.3
Matt Bonner 3 0.4 0.14 0 Pts 1 Reb (0 Off), 0% 0% 41.0 147.1 -106.1
Reggie Williams 2 -1.0 -0.60 0 Pts (0-1 FG, ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 PF 33% 0% 0.0 116.3 -116.3

Show Kings Players

On an individual level, the most notable performance of the night was definitely Tony Parker's.  Kawhi may have slightly outperformed TP over the course of the night, but Tony started this game looking very much like the Parker we've seen lately, hitting his first shot before missing the next 4 en route to a pretty poor but typical of late 1st half performance.  Parker hit the first shot of the 3rd though, and quickly added 2 free throws en route to a 17 point 2nd half in which he looked very much like the old Tony we know and love.

And it wasn't just that his jumper was falling - Tony showed some of the quickness he'd been missing, hitting a number of shots in the paint and creating shots for teammates off of suddenly-effective-again drives to the basket.  He also went a whole game avoiding not only stepping out of bounds, but any turnovers at all, posting an ∞ assist to turnover ratio! (5 to 0, math joke...)  Just an excellent game all around from Tony, and all the more remarkable considering almost all of his positive contributions came after halftime.  

Kawhi played an excellent game once again, and seems to be finding his offensive rhythm a bit once more.  A lot of Kawhi's misses, particularly when posting up, were of the just-rimmed-out variety, ones we hope would start to fall on a greater basis as Leonard takes more shots like those. 

Manu Ginobili was fantastic as Scoring Manu, pouring in 16 points on just 10 shots with no assists, and netted a team high 36.6 Net Rating.  Baynes made up for a 1-3 shooting from the field and a single rebound by getting the line 3 times and sinking all 6 free throws, as well as 3 assists.  

Two guys whose box scores belied their contributions in this one were Patty Mills and Tiago Splitter.  Mills once again provided a huge energy boost off the bench despite (once again) missing both of his looks from deep.  His defense was pestering and the shots he hit came when they were much needed.

Splitter was the victim of numerous "how did that not go in?" kind of shots, finishing 2-8 from the field, but contributed 9 boards, 3 blocks and a steal.  In a 3 minute stretch late in the first quarter, Splitter blocked 2 straight shots and grabbed four rebounds to effectively shut the Kings down while the Spurs gained back some ground after an ice cold start.  You can actually see it in the game chart at the top of the page - see that 3 1/2 minute stretch where the red line is flat?  Tiago Splitter was the main reason for that.  If this kind of defensive effort continues and his shots start to fall, the Spurs will once again enjoy a lot of depth in their frontcourt.

Spurs Index: 96.2 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 51.4% 24.8
Shooting (eFG%) 43.8% 16.3
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 82.1% 21.5
Defense (DefRtg) 96.9 20.7
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 31.6% 12.9
Total 96.2

Kings Spurs Index: 85.7 Show Breakdown

Not a very Spursy game due to low assist rate and poor shooting.  At this point I don't care how the wins come or whom they come against, so long as they keep coming.  Go Spurs Go!



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
Opponent % 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.

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