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Study Hall: Spurs black out the Suns with oppressive defense

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The Spurs still couldn't hit a three to save their lives, but got tons of good looks around the basket and held the Suns to a 24 point first half to earn an exceedingly comfortable victory.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 101, Suns 74 - Feb 28, '15

This one was not very competitive for very long. The Spurs jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead, not because their offense was particularly awesome, but because the hapless Suns simply could not buy a bucket. That lead quickly expanded to 11 by the end of the 1st, and continued to grow to  whopping 27 point halftime margin, with the Suns only managing 24 points in the first half. The second half was essentially a footnote as the Spurs went up 34 and in the 3rd and coasted the rest of the way. Let's take a look at where the Spurs' advantages lay.

The Spurs shot the ball very effectively from close range in this one, hitting over 50% of their 2 pointers, a stat bolstered by a blistering 62.9% inside the restricted area as the Spurs bigs abused the Suns and Kawhi Leonard threw down dunk after dunk on fast breaks.

This more than compensated for another nightmarish night from deep, as the Spurs knocked down just 4 of 19 three point attempts despite most of them being of the wide open variety. There's only so much you can control when it comes to (open) three pointers falling, so it was great to see the Spurs dominate in the factors which are less determined by random chance. I'd much rather see the Spurs dominate with great looks from 2 and free throws than a night where they go off from deep. It's much more sustainable, and one of these days those long balls will start falling again (they have to, right?)

The Spurs also controlled the boards in this one, keeping the Suns off the boards with a monster 85.2% Defensive Rebound rate, and also enjoyed a modest ballhandling advantage.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Suns
Shooting (eFG%) 51% 33%
Ball Handling (TO%) 14% 18%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 23% 15%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 19% 29%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Suns
Pace (No. of Possessions) 104.5
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.97 0.71
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.10 0.88
2-PT FG% 50.7% 29.4%
3-PT FG% 21.1% 31.3%
FT% 88.2% 79.2%
True Shooting % 50.8% 39.1%
Spurs
Suns
Offensive Rating 97.6 70.1
Defensive Rating 70.1 97.6
Net Rating 27.5 -27.5
Spurs Suns
Passes / poss. 3.1 2.3
% of FGA uncontested 48.9% 40.5%
Points in the paint 50 32
Second chance points 23 2
Fast break points 12 15
Spurs Suns
Assists 18 13
Steals 7 7
Turnovers 14 18
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.79 1.11
Spurs Suns
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11.0 13.5
Offensive Rebounds 10 8
Difference -1.0 -5.5

Spurs Shot Chart

Suns Shot Chart

[Content]

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Kawhi Leonard 32 27.0 0.85 22 Pts (9-18 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-4 FT) 10 Reb (0 Off), 2 Blk, 3 Stl, 2 PF 26% 58% 103.9 66.2 37.7
Aron Baynes 20 16.1 0.82 12 Pts (3-3 FG, 6-6 FT) 10 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 6 PF 18% 71% 101.4 56.8 44.6
Danny Green 25 15.3 0.62 12 Pts (4-7 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-2 FT) 8 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 1 PF 15% 60% 115.8 70.0 45.8
Patty Mills 22 9.4 0.42 9 Pts (3-10 FG, 1-7 3PT, 2-2 FT) 4 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 22% 40% 102.3 72.3 30.0
Boris Diaw 23 9.0 0.39 12 Pts (6-14 FG, 0-1 3PT ) 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 28% 42% 86.6 75.1 11.5
Tiago Splitter 15 9.0 0.59 8 Pts (4-5 FG, 0-2 FT) 3 Reb (1 Off), 1 Blk, 2 PF 18% 68% 91.4 67.4 24.0
Tim Duncan 21 7.5 0.36 6 Pts (3-6 FG, ) 10 Reb (3 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 3 PF 17% 40% 103.2 56.3 46.9
Manu Ginobili 19 5.4 0.29 2 Pts (1-4 FG, 0-1 3PT ) 4 Reb (0 Off), 7 Ast, 1 TO, 2 PF 11% 51% 108.9 43.3 65.6
Matt Bonner 6 4.1 0.66 3 Pts (1-1 FG, 1-1 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 7% 100% 110.1 110.3 -0.2
Cory Joseph 10 3.0 0.29 5 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-1 FT) , 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF 29% 45% 77.7 117.0 -39.3
Marco Belinelli 17 0.1 0.01 4 Pts (2-6 FG, 0-2 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 2 PF 15% 34% 67.4 65.8 1.6
Tony Parker 23 -0.7 -0.03 6 Pts (3-13 FG, 0-2 3PT ) , 2 Ast, 26% 29% 98.6 59.9 38.7
Jeff Ayres 7 -4.3 -0.58 0 Pts 1 Reb (0 Off), 3 TO, 1 PF 17% 0% 74.5 128.6 -54.1

Show Suns Players

Kawhi Leonard was magnificent once again, racking up 22 points on 9-18 shooting with 10 boards, 2 blocks, 3 steals and no turnovers.  Leonard really looked like an NBA superstar in this one, throwing the ball down in traffic and scoring at will from the post in addition to playing incredibly disruptive defense and scoring in transition.  

Aaron Baynes may have had the most ridiculous line of the night, though, hitting every shot he took, grabbing 10 boards and putting up 12 points on 3-3 from the field and 6/6 from the charity stripe.  The Banger has now hit 12 straight free throws across two games. You know Baynes was feeling it considering he had three turnovers and fouled out, yet finished second in AdjGS with 16.1. I'll take it.  

Tony Parker was unable to carry over his momentum from Friday night's demolition of the Kings, going just 3/13 from the field, but he was able to get to the rim and by the eye test looked more effective than he did the past two weeks when he appeared completely hapless out there. I think those shots will fall on most nights, so I'm not worried yet that Friday was a fluke.

Spurs Index: 101.0 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 43.9% 21.2
Shooting (eFG%) 50.5% 18.8
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 85.2% 22.3
Defense (DefRtg) 70.1 28.6
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 40.5% 10.1
Total 101.0

Suns Spurs Index: 86.6 Show Breakdown

Absolutely dominant defense and great rebounding, along with solid shooting made this a net plus in the Spurs Index.  Interestingly, the Spurs were less impressive was in the assist percentage department, with a mere 43.9% of the Spurs field goals coming off of assists.  The Spurs also passed the ball a little bit less in this one, at just 3.2 passes/possession, but I think that part of that can be explained by a combination of the Spurs finding the open early in the possession, and it seemed like a lot of would-be assists for the Spurs ended in hacks by overmatched Suns defenders.  But hey, it's a W so I'm not going to look this beautiful gift horse in the mouth.  Go Spurs Go!

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Definitions

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 Basketball-Reference.com: 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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