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Spurs' offense too much for Nuggets

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The Spurs didn't look like themselves on the defensive end but a great offensive performance spearheaded by Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard was enough to beat the Nuggets.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 120, Nuggets 111 - Mar 6, '15

Friday's game against the Nuggets had "trap" written all over it for San Antonio. Everything pointed to an easy home win against an inferior rival. But the Nuggets were coming off two wins in a row and had recently fired Brian Shaw, a coach no one on the roster seemed to care for and were more dangerous that it seemed at first glance. Relaxing against a team that is thinking about next season is normal, yet the Spurs didn't succumb to the temptation.

As the four factors show, San Antonio shot well and didn't turn it over. When that happens, the Spurs offense is still a buzzsaw that can lead to victories on its own. So just this once we'll ignore the 1.11 points per possession and 58 points allowed in the paint and focus on the stellar free throw rate and ball control numbers. Defense might win championships but offense is often enough on random March nights against lottery teams.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Nuggets
Shooting (eFG%) 58% 56%
Ball Handling (TO%) 9% 13%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 9% 20%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 42% 27%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Nuggets
Pace (No. of Possessions) 100.3
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.20 1.11
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.52 1.29
2-PT FG% 61.8% 56.5%
3-PT FG% 37.5% 35.3%
FT% 75.8% 65.2%
True Shooting % 64.2% 57.7%
Spurs
Nuggets
Offensive Rating 120.6 109.8
Defensive Rating 109.8 120.6
Net Rating 10.8 -10.8
Spurs Nuggets
Passes / poss. 3.5 2.4
% of FGA uncontested 41.8% 32.6%
Points in the paint 44 58
Second chance points 7 15
Fast break points 10 14
Spurs Nuggets
Assists 24 21
Steals 8 7
Turnovers 9 13
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
3.56 2.15
Spurs Nuggets
Expected Offensive Rebounds 8.3 10.3
Offensive Rebounds 3 8
Difference -5.3 -2.3

Spurs Shot Chart

Nuggets Shot Chart

The interior defense was non-existent. That was expected from the Nuggets, who started Kenneth Faried at center, but the Spurs are supposed to be better on that area. I had the feeling the Spurs were not as good as last season in that area but the numbers tell me they are actually allowing a lower percentage within five feet than last season. Knowing that the defense is typically good makes games like this one easier to digest.

Despite going four-out (four perimeter players and a center) in their starting lineup and playing that way for 19 minutes, the Nuggets attempted only 17 three-pointers, seven fewer than they attempt on average. It's true they were having their way with the Spurs interior defense but diversifying the attack is key and Denver failed to do it.

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Tony Parker 36 26.6 0.74 24 Pts (10-15 FG, 4-5 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF 25% 70% 133.9 109.1 24.9
Kawhi Leonard 36 25.6 0.71 25 Pts (10-17 FG, 1-5 3PT, 4-4 FT) 8 Reb (0 Off), 4 Ast, 3 Blk, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF 27% 59% 130.1 104.8 25.3
Tim Duncan 28 15.1 0.53 15 Pts (6-8 FG, 3-6 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 3 Ast, 3 Blk, 1 TO, 4 PF 21% 67% 139.6 110.7 28.9
Danny Green 30 12.2 0.41 11 Pts (4-9 FG, 3-7 3PT ) 3 Reb (0 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 1 PF 15% 49% 129.8 104.1 25.7
Marco Belinelli 16 11.9 0.77 9 Pts (2-5 FG, 2-3 3PT, 3-4 FT) 3 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 20% 60% 122.8 129.5 -6.8
Tiago Splitter 26 10.8 0.42 10 Pts (3-5 FG, 4-5 FT) 7 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 2 PF 15% 63% 116.6 105.7 10.9
Manu Ginobili 19 7.0 0.38 9 Pts (2-5 FG, 2-4 3PT, 3-4 FT) 2 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF 20% 44% 91.1 116.3 -25.2
Boris Diaw 23 6.3 0.28 7 Pts (3-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-1 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF 13% 55% 110.0 101.1 8.9
Cory Joseph 4 2.5 0.57 3 Pts (1-1 FG, 1-2 FT) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 PF 18% 81% 96.2 109.1 -12.9
Patty Mills 7 1.7 0.23 5 Pts (2-8 FG, 1-4 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Stl, 43% 22% 80.3 113.4 -33.1
Aron Baynes 11 1.3 0.12 2 Pts (0-1 FG, 2-2 FT) 2 Reb (0 Off), 2 PF 8% 58% 116.8 114.8 2.0
Matt Bonner 4 -1.2 -0.29 0 Pts , 1 TO 10% 0% 84.7 133.3 -48.6

Show Nuggets Players

Tony Parker at the top of the board is such a welcomed sight. Parker was efficient but, more importantly, he was aggressive. 10 of his shots and two of his assist came in the paint, which is just what the team needs from him.

Leonard and Parker carrying the team is what many of us expected coming into the season but injuries prevented it from happening. Against the Nuggets on Friday we finally got a glimpse of how good the offense can be if both of them are playing well at the same time. A combined 49 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists? More of this, please.

Spurs Index: 100.5 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 55.8% 27.0
Shooting (eFG%) 58.2% 21.7
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 80.5% 21.1
Defense (DefRtg) 109.8 18.2
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 32.6% 12.5
Total 100.5

Nuggets Spurs Index: 93.3 Show Breakdown

With the offense clicking like it was the game is bound to be Spurs-y. The defensive performance brings the Spurs Index down but I'm not complaining.

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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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