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San Antonio Spurs' NBA Title Odds Against Heat/Pacers

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San Antonio's title chances would increase 26 percent against Indiana instead of Miami.

Coming into the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs held an 8.13 percent chance of sweeping the Grizzlies, with the most likely finish being a Spurs win in seven games. Well, so much for our Memphis faith.

The Grizzlies may have been solid during the regular season when shooting poorly, and before this round, the Grizzlies had been 3-0 in the playoffs when their effective field goal percentage (eFG%) sat below .450 eFG%. The main caveat, though, was that the poor shooting was the result of a slowed-down, bad shooting night for both teams. Then, Memphis could win with its rebounding and turnover advantages.

There was one main problem: the Spurs' shooting didn't drop. Memphis won the offensive rebound battle in all four games and the turnover battle in three of them, yet they lost every single contest. To channel my inner Sir Charles: "You gotta put the ball in the bucket to win the game." And the Grizzlies best eFG% differential in a game this series was their -.109 eFG% in Game 3, when they shot a not-terrible .428 but the Spurs managed their own .537.

But enough of looking into the past; we're all about looking forward. And the Spurs better become major Pacers fans, because their odds of winning the NBA title would shoot up over 25 percent if they were playing the team from the Hoosier State instead of LeBron and Co. from South Beach.

San Antonio vs. Miami

Most Likely Outcome: Miami Heat in 5 Games

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Miami9.84%21.41%17.32%20.30%68.87%
San Antonio3.13%6.01%12.70%9.29%31.13%

Key to the Series: San Antonio's eFG%

Let's get one thing out of the way: playing the Bucks, Bulls, and Pacers isn't exactly a Final Level Boss-type challenge of a team's defensive skills. It's not like Stephen Curry is making his way to Indianapolis any time soon. The Bulls and Pacers in particular won during the regular season as a result of limiting opponents' shots (both top four in defensive eFG%), not creating their own (both bottom 9 in offensive eFG%).

But with that said, that .459 defensive eFG% for the Heat through 12 playoff games doesn't look half bad, does it? The Bulls never shot higher than .500 eFG% against the Heat the entire series, and the Pacers have only managed the feat in their Game 2 victory thus far. (Milwaukee topped .500 twice but lost both games.) Miami finished ninth in the NBA in defensive effective field goal percentage during the regular season, finishing with a .487 eFG% allowed.

Of course, Memphis came into their series with San Antonio expecting defensive dominance too, and the Spurs posted above their season average .531 eFG% in three of the four games. Against Miami, shooting that well may just be a necessity, as the Heat's regular season .552 eFG% was the best regular season mark since the turn of the millennium.

Given that the only Four Factors categories where San Antonio holds a distinct edge are defensive rebounding and defensive free throw factor, keeping the field goal percentage battle close and grabbing an outlier shooting performance or two is imperative to winning. They really don't have many other ways to try and steal four games from the Heat.

San Antonio vs. Indiana

Most Likely Outcome: San Antonio Spurs in 7 Games

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
San Antonio6.85%16.67%14.88%18.70%57.10%
Indiana4.85%8.98%16.88%12.19%42.90%

Key to the Series: San Antonio's Turnover Percentage

The general media may already have penciled in a Heat/Spurs Finals (fine, fine, I'm one of them). According to our analytics, though, the Pacers still hold a 16.55 percent chance of taking down the Miami Heat. They even hold a 6.80 percent chance of taking the series in six games. There's always hope!

But if there would be hope for an NBA title (and the Pacers currently hold only 7.1 percent title odds), it may just come down to how well the Pacers can perfect the Memphis strategy. The Grizzlies couldn't take down the Spurs because of their shooting, but Paul George and David West did lead Indiana to a slightly higher (by .009) offensive eFG% than Memphis during the regular season.

In order to fully utilize the Memphis' strategy, however, the Pacers will need to beef up their turnover rates. Indiana finished the regular season No. 27 in offensive turnover percentage and No. 26 in defensive turnover percentage. That simply won't get it done against San Antonio's average percentages; Indiana will need a few outlier performances of high turnover games from Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili to stay close.

Say Indiana forces some turnovers and the two teams even tie in turnover percentage. Given Indiana's extreme advantage in offensive rebounding and a projected close field goal percentage battle, wouldn't you give the edge to Indiana in that situation? And it all comes down to whether the Spurs will be flustered by the Pacers defense when they have the ball.

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In This Article

Tim Duncan
FC, San Antonio Spurs

Manu Ginobili
GF, San Antonio Spurs

Tony Parker
PG, San Antonio Spurs

Paul George
GF, Indiana Pacers

LeBron James
F, Miami Heat

David West
PF, Indiana Pacers

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