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Cold shooting cost the Spurs Game 4

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The Spurs had the edge on most categories but their struggles from the three-point and free throw lines cost them the game.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 105, Clippers 114 - Apr 26, '15

Just like the Spurs' loss in Game 1, there were some factors that made Sunday's look like an anomaly. The Clippers showed why they finished the regular season with the best offense in the league, Chris Paul reminded everyone why he's in the short list for MVP and Blake Griffin was a force of nature. That's not surprising. Austin Rivers going 7-8 from the field and Glen Davis giving Doc Rivers a very solid 19 minutes of the bench is.

The bench is the Clippers' critical flaw. It can cost them games. Yet when it overachieves, it's really hard to beat them. The runs that the Spurs' subs are supposed to deliver weren't there and depth -- their biggest advantage --  was negated. With a normal game from everyone involved, the Spurs would have likely emerged victorious. That's why the playoffs are so enthralling: a single outlier performance can affect the direction of a series.

Of course San Antonio is not blameless for the loss. A cold shooting night from Danny Green and Marco Belinelli left the team without a weapon that is essential in this type of offensive showdown: three-point shooting. That and the 10 missed free throws were enough for the stellar work on the boards and transition defense to go to waste and for the game to be clsoe. Then untimely mistakes broke the parity.

As the series goes back to Los Angeles, the Spurs will look to replicate most of what they did in Game 4. Edges in offensive rebound, turnovers, fastbreak points and points in the paint will more often than not result in wins. If they can clean up some sloppy plays and make small adjustments to their defense, they have a great shot of winning at Staples center. Provided Austin Rivers doesn't score 16 points in 17 minutes, of course.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Clippers
Shooting (eFG%) 52% 56%
Ball Handling (TO%) 8% 10%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 23% 15%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 42% 31%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Clippers
Pace (No. of Possessions) 97.9
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.07 1.16
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.25 1.36
2-PT FG% 52.5% 60.6%
3-PT FG% 24.0% 27.8%
FT% 71.4% 73.1%
True Shooting % 52.8% 59.7%
Spurs
Clippers
Offensive Rating 108.9 114.6
Defensive Rating 114.6 108.9
Net Rating -5.7 5.7
Spurs Clippers
Passes / poss. 3.2 2.9
% of FGA uncontested 38.1% 42.9%
Points in the paint 48 46
Second chance points 11 8
Fast break points 16 11
Spurs Clippers
Assists 20 24
Steals 3 7
Turnovers 8 9
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.88 3.44
Spurs Clippers
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12.0 9.8
Offensive Rebounds 11 6
Difference -1.0 -3.8

Spurs Shot Chart

Clippers Shot Chart

Those wing threes that didn't fall killed the Spurs. They don't have the mid-range threats the Clippers can rely on -- Kawhi Leonard notwithstanding -- , so when the three-pointers don't fall, it's hard to keep up with such a potent offense. Let's hope Green finds his shot before Tuesday.

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Kawhi Leonard 40 30.9 0.77 26 Pts (10-19 FG, 3-6 3PT, 3-4 FT) 7 Reb (2 Off), 5 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 PF 23% 63% 108.1 111.1 -3.0
Tim Duncan 38 29.7 0.79 22 Pts (8-13 FG, 6-10 FT) 14 Reb (4 Off), 3 Ast, 3 Blk, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 6 PF 24% 61% 110.1 116.4 -6.3
Boris Diaw 31 13.6 0.44 10 Pts (4-7 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT) 7 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 4 PF 11% 72% 112.0 124.7 -12.7
Tony Parker 29 12.9 0.45 18 Pts (7-15 FG, 0-3 3PT, 4-8 FT) 2 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 PF 30% 52% 109.1 109.7 -0.6
Patty Mills 20 11.7 0.59 14 Pts (4-10 FG, 2-5 3PT, 4-4 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 3 PF 28% 54% 109.3 116.1 -6.7
Manu Ginobili 22 10.1 0.46 10 Pts (3-6 FG, 1-2 3PT, 3-4 FT) 3 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 3 PF 22% 49% 109.1 126.8 -17.7
Marco Belinelli 6 4.4 0.72 3 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-2 3PT, 3-3 FT) 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 20% 60% 97.4 101.9 -4.5
Cory Joseph 1 2.3 2.63 2 Pts (1-1 FG, ) , 43% 100% 215.5 100.0 115.5
Matt Bonner 6 0.4 0.07 0 Pts , 1 Blk, 1 PF 0% 0% 130.0 138.9 -8.9
Jeff Ayres 1 0.0 0.00 0 Pts , 0% 0% 215.5 200.0 15.5
Aron Baynes 1 0.0 0.00 0 Pts , 0% 0% 215.5 200.0 15.5
Danny Green 28 -4.8 -0.17 0 Pts (0-6 FG, 0-6 3PT ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 1 PF 11% 12% 102.4 107.8 -5.4
Tiago Splitter 18 -6.0 -0.33 0 Pts (0-5 FG, ) 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO, 4 PF 15% 0% 86.2 92.6 -6.4

Show Clippers Players

Unsurprisingly, the two starters that didn't score find themselves at the bottom of the list. Green and Splitter did solid work on defense and didn't take bad shots. But a combined 0-11 from the field is hard to make up for, no matter how passable the rest of their play was. The Spurs need more from both.

Manu Ginobili had a very good first half, then slowly faded. Fatigue might be a problem for Manu going forward, especially with the games being played at a fast pace. It's not so much the total minutes he plays as how long his stints are. Manu is a rhythm player so cutting down on the consecutive minutes he's on the court might backfire but if he is indeed tired it might be worth exploring that option.

Kawhi Leonard at the top ceased to be a surprise months ago. The guy just does so much other than score. Tim Duncan's play, however, is a bit unexpected. Timmy is averaging 16 points on 53 percent shooting, 11 rebounds and four assists per game. On Game 4 he went for 22, including 10 fourth quarter points, and grabbed 14 rebounds. With Splitter limited and Baynes unfit for this series Duncan is being asked to handle a heavier load than usual and as always, Big Fun is responding.

Spurs Index: 94.6 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 54.1% 26.1
Shooting (eFG%) 51.8% 19.3
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 84.6% 22.1
Defense (DefRtg) 114.6 17.5
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 42.9% 9.5
Total 94.6

Clippers Spurs Index: 96.8 Show Breakdown

The Spurs couldn't string together stops all game so the Clipper's offensive rating is not surprising. The assists and shooting numbers are linked, as there are no dimes without buckets and typically three-pointers are assisted. Since the Spurs missed a ton, their assist rate suffered, making Game 4 not very Spurs-like at all.

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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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