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Study Hall: Spurs do the impossible, lose to Knicks

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This was one of the worst-played games of basketball I have ever had the misfortune to witness. Both teams shot atrocious from the field and missed free throws factored prominently in the game's outcome as the Spurs lost yet another overtime game.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 100, Knicks 104 - Mar 17, '15

This game was so terrible I can't bring myself to write at length about it.  The Spurs made it clear from the opening tip that the intended to coast through this one, resting their stars as much as possible.  They absolutely played down to their vastly inferior competition, and seemed like they had no interest in the game whatsoever.  Kawhi Leonard lacked aggression and even played poorly on the defensive side of the ball, allowing Alexey Shved to score on him repeatedly.  

There was an odd symmetry about the game, as both teams matched each other in 3 points (3/14), steals, turnovers and offensive rebounds.  The Knicks had a decided edge in 2pt FG% though, which was enough to earn them the W.  Ironically, the one category the Spurs posted an advantage was their 83.3 FT%, where, after a 21/22 start the Spurs saved all of their remaining misses for key trips to the line, including yet another Kawhi miss which led to an OT that should never have transpired, and a Duncan miss that failed to tie the game in the final seconds of OT.  

Perhaps the most telling factor in just how poorly the Spurs executed (beside the fact that they lost to, you know, the Knicks) was the Uncontested FG rate - the Spurs got open looks on just 29.8% of their shots, compared to the Knicks 50.5%.  Not good.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Knicks
Shooting (eFG%) 43% 47%
Ball Handling (TO%) 12% 13%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 30% 31%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 32% 30%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Knicks
Pace (No. of Possessions) 92.9
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.08 1.12
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.06 1.14
2-PT FG% 41.3% 49.4%
3-PT FG% 21.4% 21.4%
FT% 83.3% 70.4%
True Shooting % 46.6% 50.5%
Offensive Rating 96.0 103.1
Defensive Rating 103.1 96.0
Net Rating -7.1 7.1
Spurs Knicks
Passes / poss. 3.4 3.4
% of FGA uncontested 29.8% 50.5%
Points in the paint 54 48
Second chance points 18 16
Fast break points 6 8
Spurs Knicks
Assists 17 22
Steals 7 7
Turnovers 11 11
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.18 2.64
Spurs Knicks
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12.5 12.3
Offensive Rebounds 15 15
Difference 2.5 2.7

Spurs Shot Chart

Knicks Shot Chart

Those are some ugly, ugly, ugly shot charts.  Yuck.

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)


Tiago Splitter 28 21.8 0.78 12 Pts (5-10 FG, 2-2 FT) 13 Reb (7 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 PF 18% 63% 114.9 94.2 20.7
Tim Duncan 34 20.4 0.61 17 Pts (6-12 FG, 5-6 FT) 8 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 3 PF 22% 62% 90.1 100.1 -10.0
Tony Parker 38 19.5 0.51 21 Pts (9-20 FG, 0-2 3PT, 3-4 FT) 6 Reb (1 Off), 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 2 PF 31% 51% 99.8 101.6 -1.8
Marco Belinelli 30 14.1 0.47 12 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 7-7 FT) 4 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF 15% 61% 90.8 106.9 -16.2
Kawhi Leonard 36 11.2 0.31 13 Pts (3-9 FG, 1-1 3PT, 6-8 FT) 5 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 2 PF 18% 43% 100.9 96.6 4.3
Boris Diaw 26 5.2 0.20 8 Pts (4-11 FG, 0-2 3PT ) 2 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 PF 17% 44% 83.5 111.2 -27.7
Jeff Ayres 6 5.2 0.85 4 Pts (2-4 FG, ) 3 Reb (3 Off), 1 PF 27% 53% 75.0 130.1 -55.1
Danny Green 34 3.3 0.10 8 Pts (3-12 FG, 1-5 3PT, 1-1 FT) 4 Reb (0 Off), 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 18% 28% 87.2 105.3 -18.1
Cory Joseph 9 1.7 0.19 2 Pts (1-4 FG, ) 3 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 18% 36% 82.8 120.6 -37.7
Reggie Williams 5 0.8 0.16 0 Pts , 1 Stl, 1 PF 0% 0% 143.4 123.0 20.5
Matt Bonner 13 0.8 0.07 2 Pts (1-2 FG, ) , 1 PF 7% 53% 112.2 96.2 16.0
Patty Mills 6 -4.1 -0.72 1 Pts (0-5 FG, 0-2 3PT, 1-2 FT) 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO, 1 PF 39% 15% 94.0 87.2 6.8

Show Knicks Players

Duncan played a great game until missing a game tying free throw and turning the ball over on the final possession, presumably because he felt (correctly) that the Spurs didn't deserve to win this one.

Splitter was very effective and efficient, and Parker continued to be great.  Bellinelli was excellent and probably should've been the one taking the shot that Danny Green missed.

Spurs Index: 84.3 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 47.2% 22.8
Shooting (eFG%) 42.6% 15.8
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 69.4% 18.2
Defense (DefRtg) 103.1 19.4
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 50.5% 8.1
Total 84.3

Knicks Spurs Index: 97.2 Show Breakdown

One of the worst Spurs Index scores of the year.  Just nothing positive can possibly said about this game.

It seems like this year the Spurs piss away every opportunity they get to gain ground in the standings.  Maybe CIA Pop is eyeing that first round matchup with the Grizzlies, I don't know.  They are losing close games at such a rate that you have to think it's more than just bad luck though, and says something about their mental toughness and focus.  It's also very worrisome to see Kawhi in particular consistently struggle at the line in clutch situations.  Maybe that's not fair, but I don't feel very reassured when the ball comes Kawhi's way in late game situations.

It sure seems like tanking teams like the Knicks who would ordinarily roll over after going down 14 decide to instead make a stand and play outside themselves when the Spurs come to town.  Of course, with anything like the focus the game deserved the loss would not have been possible, but it's still a narrower margin of error for the Spurs this year it seems.  

Hopefully Pop can light a fire under this team's collective rear ends after this turd of a game.  I've said that way too many times this season to really feel confident the next time a Spur goes to the line late in a game or (God forbid) the game heads into overtime.  Theses guys need to figure out how to win a close game before they run out of regular season games to burn trying unsuccessfully.



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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