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Spurs' defense, ball movement too much for Celtics

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The Spurs controlled this one from the tip, but poor three point shooting and defensive rebounding allowed the Celtics to hang around, and the Spurs took their foot off the gas late to make the final result look much closer than it was.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 101, Celtics 89 - Mar 20, '15

The Spurs jumped out quickly in this one, with Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan hitting all their shots, and the Spurs defense holding Boston in check, building up a 13 point margin by the end of the first.  That lead was 14 at half, and the Spurs continued to press, heading into the 4th quarter with a 21 point advantage.  The Celtics, to their credit, never quit battling, winning the rebounding battle, and when the Spurs' offense sputtered in the 4th quarter with the Manu-less second squad not looking very sharp, Boston rolled off a 16-0 run to close to within 7 before Pop called the starters (minus Tim) back in to close it out, which they quickly did.

That late run makes some of the number look less impressive than the eye test would have led you to expect, but they still finished with a huge FG% advantage despite poor 3pt shooting, which carried them through to victory.  The 12% eFG advantage was due in large part to smothering defense, as the Spurs made all the right switches and recovered beautifully on defense, as well as phenomenal passing leading to great looks, with the Spurs throwing down an 81.6% assist rate as they topped 31 assists yet again.  That's a beautiful recipe for success and I'm sure it brought tears to Pop's eyes.  [Insert joke about Popovich's tears curing cancer but too bad he never cries]

Kawhi Leonard put up another fantastic line with 22 points, 7 boards, 2 assists and 3 steals.  His mid-range jumper was on and he also shot a solid 40% from deep.  When Kawhi's stroke is true he becomes almost indefensible.  It is such a privilege just to watch him develop into a franchise player right before our eyes.

Tiago Splitter spent the entire game in beast mode, going 8-10 for a season-high 18 points and posting an 81% Floor percentage on 22% Usage Rate.  It's taken a lot longer than anyone might have guessed, but Splitter seems to be very much back in rhythm and is wreaking havoc at both ends - his 73.9 Defensive Rating topped all Spurs who played more than a few minutes.

Duncan was Duncan in wonderfully limited minutes, going 5-5 and notching 3 stocks (steals plus blocks).  

Tony was efficient but undid some great work (15 points on 8 shots, 7 assists) with 6 turnovers, so hopefully he got those out of his system before the team faces Atlanta on Sunday.  Atlanta is in the middle of a skid (2 games is a skid when you're 53-16) so hopefully the Spurs can capitalize on some disarray in Coach Bud's ranks.

The bench players in general were pretty underwhelming, continuing a disconcerting theme for the season.  Patty and Marco both went 2-10 from the field and the second unit almost gave this one away in the 4th as they played poor defense and couldn't knock down a shot.  Manu's absence definitely doesn't help, but the Spurs' second unit really needs to come into its own again if the Spurs hope to make a deep run in the playoffs once more.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Celtics
Shooting (eFG%) 55% 43%
Ball Handling (TO%) 13% 16%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 18% 27%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 28% 23%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Celtics
Pace (No. of Possessions) 98.0
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.03 0.91
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.25 1.01
2-PT FG% 56.9% 44.1%
3-PT FG% 21.7% 25.0%
FT% 87.0% 70.0%
True Shooting % 55.4% 46.0%
Spurs
Celtics
Offensive Rating 104.0 90.1
Defensive Rating 90.1 104.0
Net Rating 13.9 -13.9
Spurs Celtics
Passes / poss. 3.3 2.8
% of FGA uncontested 53.1% 52.3%
Points in the paint 40 38
Second chance points 6 20
Fast break points 16 10
Spurs Celtics
Assists 31 19
Steals 11 10
Turnovers 13 15
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
3.23 1.93
Spurs Celtics
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10.0 13.0
Offensive Rebounds 7 14
Difference -3.0 1.0

Spurs Shot Chart

Celtics Shot Chart

Great rim protection and defense in general by the Spurs held the Celtics to a meagre 34% eFG, and 43.9% around the basket.

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Kawhi Leonard 31 24.2 0.78 22 Pts (8-14 FG, 2-5 3PT, 4-4 FT) 7 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 23% 64% 126.3 88.5 37.8
Tiago Splitter 25 21.7 0.87 18 Pts (8-10 FG, 2-3 FT) 6 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 PF 22% 81% 116.2 73.9 42.3
Tim Duncan 20 15.6 0.79 10 Pts (5-5 FG, ) 6 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 13% 82% 132.2 99.2 33.0
Danny Green 34 14.6 0.43 10 Pts (2-10 FG, 0-4 3PT, 6-6 FT) 8 Reb (2 Off), 4 Ast, 2 Blk, 2 Stl, 17% 49% 117.2 90.2 27.0
Tony Parker 27 10.0 0.37 15 Pts (5-8 FG, 5-6 FT) , 7 Ast, 6 TO, 2 PF 27% 51% 129.5 95.5 34.0
Boris Diaw 26 7.0 0.27 9 Pts (3-7 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-2 FT) 4 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 3 TO, 1 PF 19% 43% 113.1 79.5 33.6
Aron Baynes 17 4.6 0.28 4 Pts (2-4 FG, ) 5 Reb (1 Off), 1 Blk, 1 PF 11% 45% 69.0 91.8 -22.7
Patty Mills 20 4.3 0.22 5 Pts (2-10 FG, 1-5 3PT ) , 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 PF 25% 33% 74.2 84.0 -9.9
Reggie Williams 9 0.9 0.09 2 Pts (1-2 FG, ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 3 PF 14% 44% 58.3 92.4 -34.1
Matt Bonner 5 0.6 0.10 1 Pts (0-1 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-2 FT) 2 Reb (0 Off), 17% 31% 27.6 169.2 -141.6
Kyle Anderson 1 0.0 0.00 0 Pts , 0% 0% 0.0 66.7 -66.7
Cory Joseph 1 0.0 0.00 0 Pts , 0% 0% 0.0 66.7 -66.7
Marco Belinelli 24 -2.4 -0.10 5 Pts (2-10 FG, 1-4 3PT ) 5 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 2 TO, 3 PF 25% 17% 75.0 94.3 -19.3

Show Celtics Players

Spurs Index: 109.0 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 81.6% 39.4
Shooting (eFG%) 54.9% 20.5
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 73.1% 19.1
Defense (DefRtg) 90.1 22.2
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 52.3% 7.8
Total 109.0

Celtics Spurs Index: 91.7 Show Breakdown

As Chris predicted, with a whopping 81.6% assist rate, good shooting and excellent defense, the Spurs Index was a cool 109 in this one.  The defensive rebounding numbers have been a little bit underwhelming in the last few games as the Spurs faced aggressive young squads trying to prove themselves, so hopefully they will get back to boxing out and bring that stat back up to where it needs to be.  

Great effort from the Good Guys on Friday, let's keep it up.

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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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