Sunday, June 19, 2011

NBA Finals: 4th Quarter Analysis

As is often the case in the media, the 4th quarters of the NBA Finals were analyzed over and over again by ESPN and ABC. In this year's case, that emphasis on 4th quarter analysis was well placed. Every one of the six games was in doubt come the 4th quarter. So why did Dallas perform so well in the 4th quarters? We at Wanting It More have collected all of the 2011 NBA Finals 4th quarter statistics to give you a better idea.

The main focus of the media in 4th quarter analysis was on LeBron James. It appears the LeBron criticism was well founded. Not only did LeBron have the 7th highest point per possession rate among players with a significant amount of possessions used, LeBron used less possessions offensively than Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Terry. He used less than half the amount of possessions Wade and Dirk used, and he barely used more possessions than JJ Barea, Mario Chalmers, and Udonis Haslem. Considering how close the games in the Finals were in the 4th quarter, it is difficult to come up with a scenario in which the Heat could win the series with LeBron using so few possessions. Now, he did have a lot more assists than even the 2nd closest player, but even then, he used far less possessions than Dirk and Wade, still less than Terry, and the same amount of possessions as Bosh. And he did all of this with having the most 4th quarter turnovers in the series (tied with Dirk).

The numbers confirm that Dirk was dominant. Dirk had an excellent 57 true shooting percentage on an inordinate amount of possessions. His turnover rate was respectable given his usage (13%), but most importantly, he was by far the most aggressive player in the 4th quarter of games, shooting twice as many free throws as anyone (other than Chris Bosh- 24 to 13).

The player that quietly had excellent 4th quarter performances is Tyson Chandler. Chandler had NINE offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter of games. The Mavericks had 13 "extra" possessions in the fourth quarter of those games, nearly all of those being a result of Chandler's excellent offensive rebounding. Given the close nature of these games, it wouldn't be a stretch at all to consider Chandler the difference maker.

Between LeBron's passiveness, Bosh's poor efficiency, Dirk's outstanding offense, and Chandler's offensive rebounding, it is clear why the Mavericks dominated the 4th quarter of the Finals. And it's important to note that it all showed up in the box score.

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