The Spurs will win if: Gregg Popovich gives them a chance to do so. Resting Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker — or a combination of the three — has been a viable strategy for Popovich and one wonders if he sacrifices an otherwise tough game, and the fourth in five nights, for a chance to beat Memphis at home on Saturday.
The Spurs will lose if: Miami’s third-ranked offense, scoring 113.0 points per 100 possessions when you adjust for schedule, shoots at their average level (49.4 percent). Six players are shooting higher than 40 percent from behind the arc making it difficult to close on one shooter in particular. The smaller lineups, with James playing more power forward than ever, maximize the amount of shooters on the floor as well.
X-Factor: Though Chris Bosh generally gets the short end of the stick, he has been playing at an elite level comparable to his teammate and three-time MVP LeBron James. His player efficiency rating (24.7) and true shooting percentage (.640) both denote a player whose finally comfortable with his center role.
Part of the reason why Bosh is so effective is because his mid-range shot, which has always been an important crutch in the Heat offense, has improved to perhaps unsustainable efficiency. Through 13 games, Bosh is attempting 4.7 shots from 16-23 feet, per HoopData, and making these at a 67 percent clip. The next closest center is Chris Kaman, chipping in 51 percent while attempting three less shots per game. The percentage will likely fall over time but its clear that Miami isn’t at it’s defensive or offensive peak without Bosh on the floor.
This is reflected in the on court/off court numbers: Miami is 11.7 points per 100 possessions better with Bosh on the floor according to NBA.com/Stats. Unlike when LeBron and Dwyane Wade are playing, however, the Heat are elite on both offense and defense with Bosh rather than a one-dimensional offensive scoring machine. They also rebound more often and shoot at a higher percentage.