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Spurs run roughshod over Clippers in Game 3

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The Spurs dominated this one start to finish, crushing a visibly winded Clippers team on defense and scoring in droves to boot.

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 100, Clippers 73 - Apr 24, '15

The Spurs came out strong in this one, punching the Clippers in the mouth and going up 11-2 in the opening minutes, and after what must have been a devastating Game 2 loss in L.A., the Clippers' overworked stars just didn't have it in them to keep up with the Spurs. The home team's withering defense and super efficient offense overwhelmed the visitors, with the game effectively out of reach halfway through the third quarter.  

What speaks the most to just how thoroughly the Spurs dominated this game is the fact that they tied or beat the Clippers in every measurable statistic.  Shooting from 1, 2, and 3? Check. Ballhandling? Check. Rebounding? Check.  From 3 point shooting to points in transition, the Spurs were better than the Clippers across the board.  With that being the case, there really isn't all that much to learn from this one, so this will be a pretty brief Study Hall.

The Clippers came out in Game 1 with enormous energy and really clobbered the Spurs with their intense defense and aggressive attack.  Game 2 they didn't have quite the same sharpness and ferocity, and the Spurs made them pay, handing them a crippling OT loss.  Game 3 was a bloodbath, with the Spurs leading wire-to-wire in one of the least competitive games of their entire year.  

A decent proxy I've found for how aggressively a team is attacking and their overall energy level is Fast Break Points.  Of course, this figure varies hugely as teams with different styles score more or less of their points in transition.  But comparing a team to itself, looking at the fast break points for and against is a pretty decent way of estimating the level of energy across games.

Let's take a look at the Clippers transition numbers across all three games:  Game One: 23.  Game Two: 15.  Game Three: 8.  That's a huge dropoff and is probably a symptom of lack of energy, no surprise given the number of minutes all 6 Clippers players have put in the past 6 days.

The Spurs of course deserve all sorts of credit for playing such a complete Game 3, especially at the defensive end, where their sound defense forced L.A. into loads of difficult shots.  But the Clippers are the most efficient offense in the league, so it's unusual to see a team which averaged an offensive rating of 109.7 in the regular season put up an anemic 77.4 in any game, ever.  

It seems pretty clear that the insanely heavy minutes played by the Clippers stars early in the week are taking their toll.  Blake Griffin went 6-15 from the field and was outscored by Boris Diaw despite 8 more minutes of play(as sure a sign of a Spurs blowout victory as there ever was).  Chris Paul netted -2.6 AdjGs points on the backs of a 3-11 shooting night and 6 TOs.  DeAndre Jordan... OK, Jordan was still pretty darn good, going 5-6 from the field, but he grabbed "only" 8 boards and a single block, much lower production than the Clippers need from their Free Throw-eschewing defensive monster.  

If there's a bright spot for L.A., it's that due to the blowout, their 4 starters (Matt Barnes doesn't even count at this point - I want him to play 48 minutes a contest, please) only played 31.5 minutes on average, down substantially from the 42 minutes per game those four averaged in the first two contests.  That comes out to an average of 115.5 minutes played, 38.5 per game, for the quartet of Paul, Griffin, Jordan and Reddick.

By contrast, the Spurs minutes leader by a wide margin, Tim Duncan, is averaging 35.3 minutes a contest so far.  Leonard, the next closest Spur, has averaged 33.7 per game, and no other Spur comes close to matching those numbers.  

I say "bright spot" that L.A.'s stars played just ~31.5 minutes in Game 3, but I was scratching my head at how long Doc Rivers opted to keep his starters in the game.  The game was clearly over by the start of the 4th, so a more calculated move would have been to pull his starters and start saving what energy they could for Sunday.  Hopefully those few extra minutes will mean the difference between a rested and eager Clippers squad looking to take back home court advantage and a still-depleted group that struggles to close out or get their legs under their shots.

(There is more analysis below the box score.)

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Clippers
Shooting (eFG%) 55% 38%
Ball Handling (TO%) 15% 15%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 20% 20%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 17% 14%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Clippers
Pace (No. of Possessions) 91.0
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.10 0.80
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.32 0.86
2-PT FG% 57.7% 37.1%
3-PT FG% 41.7% 26.1%
FT% 76.9% 75.0%
True Shooting % 61.2% 40.4%
Offensive Rating 114.0 77.4
Defensive Rating 77.4 114.0
Net Rating 36.6 -36.6
Spurs Clippers
Passes / poss. 3.6 3.0
% of FGA uncontested 51.3% 38.8%
Points in the paint 40 40
Second chance points 10 8
Fast break points 13 8
Spurs Clippers
Assists 25 14
Steals 9 7
Turnovers 13 14
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.62 1.50
Spurs Clippers
Expected Offensive Rebounds 8.8 12.5
Offensive Rebounds 7 10
Difference -1.8 -2.5

Spurs Shot Chart

Clippers Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)


Kawhi Leonard 29 32.9 1.16 32 Pts (13-18 FG, 3-5 3PT, 3-3 FT) 4 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Blk, 3 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 37% 72% 121.8 75.8 46.0
Boris Diaw 23 16.1 0.70 15 Pts (5-8 FG, 0-1 3PT, 5-6 FT) 6 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF 25% 70% 123.8 77.9 45.9
Danny Green 29 13.3 0.45 11 Pts (4-8 FG, 3-6 3PT ) 6 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 15% 48% 129.4 71.0 58.4
Marco Belinelli 16 8.4 0.54 9 Pts (4-5 FG, 1-1 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 PF 17% 81% 106.4 102.0 4.4
Tim Duncan 31 7.4 0.24 4 Pts (2-6 FG, 0-2 FT) 7 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 3 Blk, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 13% 38% 113.7 68.3 45.4
Manu Ginobili 17 6.1 0.36 2 Pts (1-2 FG, ) 6 Reb (0 Off), 6 Ast, 2 Blk, 2 TO, 2 PF 12% 52% 94.6 52.7 42.0
Patty Mills 15 4.6 0.31 6 Pts (2-5 FG, 2-4 3PT ) 3 Reb (1 Off), 1 PF 17% 39% 103.4 67.6 35.8
Cory Joseph 8 4.5 0.58 6 Pts (3-3 FG, ) , 1 TO 29% 70% 108.1 112.5 -4.4
Aron Baynes 7 3.2 0.43 4 Pts (1-2 FG, 2-2 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 1 TO 28% 52% 108.1 120.0 -11.9
Tiago Splitter 17 2.1 0.12 2 Pts (1-2 FG, ) 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 2 PF 12% 35% 100.0 63.5 36.5
Jeff Ayres 8 1.7 0.22 0 Pts (0-1 FG, ) 3 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 7% 48% 117.5 105.9 11.6
Tony Parker 26 0.1 0.00 6 Pts (3-11 FG, 0-2 3PT ) 3 Reb (0 Off), 3 Ast, 2 TO, 1 PF 25% 29% 121.9 72.0 49.9
Matt Bonner 16 -0.2 -0.01 3 Pts (1-5 FG, 1-5 3PT ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO, 1 PF 19% 21% 103.7 87.7 16.0

Show Clippers Players

What a game from Kawhi.  Career night on the offensive end, right on the heels of his DPOY award.  Can't say enough about the kid.  

Fantastic performance from Boris Diaw, who I really am beginning to suspect took Jesus's piece on the Clippers being a tough matchup for him personally, as he outscored Blake Griffin on his own in another well-rounded game which was beautiful to watch.  Good on you, Bobo.  

Danny Green was fantastic on both sides of the ball, matching Kawhi with 3 steals and playing excellent basketball all around.  Not many teams regularly have nights where the 2 and 3 spots net 6 steals for their side.  That's a monster defensive duo, and Popovich alternated between those two for much of the night to completely shut down Chris Paul, who I'd like to point out once more netted a -2.6 AdjGS.  

Tony Parker had a marginal night at best statistically, but props to him for getting out there and playing hard through a rash of injuries.

Spurs Index: 108.1 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 62.5% 30.2
Shooting (eFG%) 55.3% 20.6
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 80.0% 20.9
Defense (DefRtg) 77.4 25.9
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 38.8% 10.5
Total 108.1

Clippers Spurs Index: 84.9 Show Breakdown

Beautiful game from the Spurs, and no surprise they pull down a 108.1 on the Spurs Index.  Hopefully they can put the series in a death grip with a similarly strong outing tomorrow.  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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