NBA Finals Preview and Prediction: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs

This preview is going to be very short and simple. I’m going to use the RSPM numbers for each team as my guide, and see what they say about how good the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are.

Projected minutes for each player are simply my best guess based on recent games.

“Impact” is a player’s RSPM multiplied by his projected minutes.

MIAMI HEAT Proj. Minutes RSPM Impact
 LeBron James  43  +9.25  +397.75
 Dwyane Wade  38  +4.65  +176.70
 Chris Bosh  31  +3.22  +99.82
 Mario Chalmers  27  +1.74  +46.98
 Ray Allen  21  -0.81  -17.01
 Norris Cole  18  -5.55  -99.90
 Udonis Haslem  18  -1.19  -21.42
 Chris Andersen  17  +3.52  +59.84
 Mike Miller  11  -1.39  -15.29
 Shane Battier  10  -0.10  -1.00
 Joel Anthony  6  -1.33*  -7.98
 Rashard Lewis  0  -3.95  0.00
 James Jones  0  -4.68*  0.00

*Denotes players with under 600 minutes played and a modified RSPM rating as a result.

TOTAL IMPACT: 618.49

TEAM STRENGTH: 618.49 / 48 MINUTES = +12.89

So my expectation is that this Miami Heat team is 12.89 points above average. Now let’s take a look at the San Antonio Spurs:

SAN ANTONIO SPURS Proj. Minutes RSPM Impact
 Tony Parker  39  +3.51  +136.89
 Kawhi Leonard  34  +3.43  +116.62
 Tim Duncan  34  +8.07  +274.38
 Tiago Splitter  27  +3.90  +105.30
 Danny Green  26  +1.31  +34.06
 Manu Ginobili  25  +3.70  +92.50
 Boris Diaw  19  -0.84  -15.96
 Matt Bonner  17  -1.89  -32.13
 Gary Neal  11  -3.84  -42.24
 Cory Joseph  8  -2.26  -18.08
 DeJuan Blair  0  -2.31  0.00
 Patty Mills  0  -3.08  0.00
 Tracy McGrady  0  -4.00*  0.00

*Denotes players with under 600 minutes played and a modified RSPM rating as a result.

TOTAL IMPACT: 651.34

TEAM STRENGTH: 651.34 / 48 MINUTES = +13.57

This means I consider San Antonio to be 0.68 points better than Miami right now. Given four points for home-court advantage, I favor Miami by 3.32 points at home, and San Antonio by 4.68 points at home.

This translates to a 61 percent chance of Miami winning a game at home, and a 34 percent chance of Miami winning a game in San Antonio. Based on those percentages, here is the likelihood of each possible series outcome:

19.8%: MIAMI IN 7

18.2%: SAN ANTONIO IN 5

17.1%: MIAMI IN 6

13.8%: SAN ANTONIO IN 6

12.7%: SAN ANTONIO IN 7

7.5%: MIAMI IN 5

6.6%: SAN ANTONIO IN 4

4.3%: MIAMI IN 4

Overall, a 51.3% chance of San Antonio winning the series, with a 48.7% chance of Miami winning.

This is not the result I expected. When I privately did this same analysis a week ago, it gave Miami a 64% chance of winning. The difference is the allocation of minutes. San Antonio has been giving more minutes to its top players, while Miami has been giving too many minutes to Norris Cole.

If I was a participant in the Stat Geek Smackdown on ESPN, it would be in my best interest to pick San Antonio in five. I’m not a participant there, so my interest will be to minimize error. Therefore, my overall prediction is…

 

FINAL PREDICTION: SAN ANTONIO IN 6

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