The Spurs will win if: They shoot well. This goes for most nights, of course, but since Boston is adept at turnover creation and defending the boards, possessions will be at a premium.
The Spurs will lose if: Boston takes a bunch of long 2-pointers. This may seem counter-intuitive.
Long 2-pointers are supposed to be good for the defense and bad for the offense. It’s been proven.
The Celtics are the rare team in which the more of these inefficient shots they take, the better their offense is running. When the Celtics attempt more than 20 shots from 16-23 feet, league average is 19, they are 8-5. Their record improves to 6-2 if they make 40 percent of their long 2-pointers while attempting at least 20 shots.
The Spurs defense baits teams to take these shots and that is part of the reason why they hold the second-ranked defense (adjusted for schedule).
In all likelihood, Boston will have space to shoot from mid-range and this interesting statistical trend will be put to the test.
X-Factor: The Celtics are currently losing the Jason Terry for Ray Allen swap. (The same holds true if you include Courtney Lee.)
Allen is shooting a career-high 46.3 percent behind the arc this season. Yet Miami is a substantially worse team with Allen on the floor, outscoring their opponent by 7.2 points per 100 possessions fewer according to NBA.com/Stats.
Boston, meanwhile, is 11.3 points per 100 possessions better with Terry. Terry isn’t shooting better — an uptick to 52 percent on long 2-pointers, notwithstanding — and his shot creation duties have been dialed down.
Boston has put Terry in a position to catch-and-shoot rather than probe in the lane. 78.8 percent of his shot attempts are assisted up from 49.9 percent last season.
Because Terry is able to shoot from every spot on the floor, Boston isn’t as predictable and Rajon Rondo has more of the court to utilize. In 22 games, the Celtics offense has been more efficient with Terry than they were with Allen last season — by nearly two points per 100 possessions.