The Washington Post

Don’t blame LeBron James for the Heat’s woes against the Spurs in NBA Finals


The Miami Heat has lost back-to-back postseason games for the first time since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals and finds itself on the verge of elimination after losing Game 4 of the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, 107-86, on Thursday night. And for the second straight game, the Heat never had much of a chance at victory.


“They smashed us,” LeBron James said. “Two straight home games got off to awful starts. They came in and were much better than us in these last two games. It’s just that simple.”

“[The Spurs] played great,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I can honestly say I don’t think any of us were expecting this type of performance. … They’ve been able to get into their game, their rhythm and flow regardless of what scheme we’ve been able to put out there. You do have to credit them for that.”

You also have to give credit to James, who led the Heat with 28 points and eight rebounds out of 11 chances. He made seven of 12 contested shots (defender within four feet) and scored 19 of the Heat’s 21 points in the third quarter.

LeBron James shot chart for Game 4 of 2104 NBA Finals

His 26.8 points per 36 minutes in these Finals are the highest over the last four, and he is scoring more off turnovers (PTSOffTO) and on the break (FBPs) than he has in either of the Heat’s championship runs.

In addition, win or lose, LeBron has been the most valuable player in the postseason. Not just on the Heat — the entire NBA playoffs, according to’s  Kitchen Sink Win Probability Added metric.

It quantifies the win probability contributions for every box score stat we can measure and attribute at the player level. That means it includes all the stats in my “official” WPA stat: shots (made and missed), getting to the foul line, free throws (made and missed), and turnovers. In addition, it includes Win Probability Added due to rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals.

LeBron’s 8.25 kWPA is nearly double Miami’s next best player (Dwyane Wade at 4.6, even after last night’s debacle) and nearly three points higher than either the Spurs’ Tim Duncan (5.42) and Manu Ginobilli (5.33).

“It’s not [all] on my shoulders. It’s not,” LeBron said after the game. “I understand I get a lot of the limelight in the press and all that, but it’s not all on my shoulder. I take a lot of it, but I do it for my teammates and I want them to put a lot of pressure on me in that sense.”

Looks like the King is getting his wish.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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