SAN ANTONIO (CBSMiami) – After getting blown off the floor by the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the NBA Finals; the Miami Heat have been looking for a solution to its problems. That’s where Nate Silver, of 538 Blog, comes in, and he may have a simple answer for Miami fans.
According to Silver, Miami’s problems aren’t necessarily a problem with the talent on the court as much as it is with the strategy and rotations utilized by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. Specifically, Popovich’s move of keeping his players on the bench during the regular season is paying off.
Silver calculated that Spurs stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli all averaged 25.3, 26.5, and 17 minutes per game respectively during the regular season. In the playoffs, the three players are playing on average 33.9, 36.4, and 25.4 minutes per game in the postseason; an increase of 34, 37, and 50 percent respectively.
On the other side of the court, the Heat’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh played on average 35.1, 29.2, and 29.9 minutes during the regular season. In the postseason, the minutes increased to 41.1, 32.9, and 32.1 during the playofss; an increase of 17, 13, and 7 percent respectively.
While Miami’s players have seen their playing time increase a smaller percentage, given the greater number of minutes the stars played during the regular season, Miami could be suffering from burnout as Game 4 approaches.
According to Silver’s analysis, based on ESPN’s “wins added” statistic, “the playing time allocations the Spurs are using in the playoffs make them the equivalent of 14 wins stronger than their record suggested during the regular season – tantamount to adding a star player like Blake Griffin to their lineup.”
As nightmarish as that thought for Heat fans may be, Silver did say Miami succeeds in clutch situations better than any other team in the NBA, and by a wide margin. Still, when it came to which type of clutch better, Silver leans towards Texas.
Silver posited the Heat “may be every good as their 66-16 record implies, and perhaps even better in key games. The Spurs however, are practically a whole different team during the postseason…Who needs clutch players when you have Popovich’s clutch strategy.”