How Erik Spoelstra uses advanced stats to refine Chris Bosh’s game

Miami Heat Forward Chris Bosh (1) during 1st half action against The New York Knicks at the American Airlines Arena, in Miami Florida, December 28,2010. The Miami Heat beat the New York Knicks 106-98.. UPI/Susan Knowles…

Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra noticed something about Chris Bosh’s post up game, and he has advanced stats to thank for it. (TrueHoop)

Data from Synergy tells us that Bosh did, in fact, perform better on the right side of the court last season with Toronto, especially in isolation situations. When Bosh attacked from the left in isolation, he scored 59 points on his 80 tries — and that includes free throws, not just field goal attempts. Synergy calculates his efficiency on left-side isolations to be .738 points per play, which ranked 43rd among 48 qualifiers last season. Not so good.

But on the right side, he was much more effective. He scored 86 points on 86 right-side isolations, nearly 25 percent better than on the left side. And on post-ups? Bosh was better from the right side as well, though the contrast is not quite as dramatic as it is for isolations.

“If you look at the numbers, he’s pretty consistent, he’s a little better on the right side, but not by a glaring amount,” Spoelstra said. “It just allowed us to be a little bit more consistent for everybody else to know where we are starting the offense.”

What does Bosh have to say?

“Stats are stats, man,” Bosh laughed. “I couldn’t say anything. I was like, ‘I can post up over there [on the left side].’ They said, ‘Well, this says you can, but it’s not the same [as the right side].'”

Bosh obliged.

“I didn’t fight it. I like getting the ball in the post, so to keep that going, I just said ‘Coach, that’s fine.’”

Teams use advanced stats to differing degrees. Houston’s GM Daryl Morey has long been known as one of the foremost users in advanced stats in the NBA. But this is the first time that I’ve heard of a specific example of a coach admitting that advanced stats have altered his game plan or approach.

It was only a matter of time, really. The NBA is a cutthroat league and if there’s an edge to be exploited, you better believe that coaches will catch on.

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Reward system the key to the Heat’s run?

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3), forward LeBron James (6), and forward Chris Bosh take a break during a time out in the second half of the opening night game against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on October 26, 2010.  UPI/Matthew Healey Photo via Newscom

Per the Miami Herald

A simple reward system has contributed to the Heat’s current run of eight consecutive blowout victories.

If Dwyane Wade grabs a defensive rebound, he has the green light to do whatever he wants offensively. If LeBron James makes a defensive stop, he controls his own game on the other end of the court.

These are the parameters set by coach Erik Spoelstra, and the chance for offensive freedom has helped spark the most dominant winning streak in franchise history.

While this may be working during the regular season, I don’t know that grabbing a defensive rebound is worthy of being able to do whatever you want on the other end of the court, at least not against the best teams in the league. But if freelance by Dwyane Wade or LeBron James is better than the plays that Erik Spoelstra calls, then maybe it is the right way to do things. But that says more about the offensive game plan than it does the value of any reward system that may be in place.

The more I think about this team, given the injuries, I don’t see them getting past the Celtics in the playoffs…but we will see.

LeBron’s camp behind Spoelstra ‘panic’ story?

Miami Heat forward LeBron James looks to the referee as he points towards the other side of the court after a foul against the Boston Celtics in the second half of the opening night game at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on October 26, 2010.  UPI/Matthew Healey Photo via Newscom

Yes, according to longtime LeBron-critic Adrian Wojnarowski, who referred to a Ball Don’t Lie piece by Kelly Dwyer. He alleges that LeBron’s camp planted the story to distract attention away from the hate-fest that’s about to occur upon LeBron’s return to Cleveland on Thursday night.

Meticulous in his preparation, Spoelstra spoke with several past coaches, and league sources said a clear and unequivocal picture appeared on how to proceed: End the cycle of enabling with James and hold him accountable.

And surprise, surprise: LeBron James has responded with a test of his own organizational strength, pushing to see how far the Heat will bend to his will.

Even within a month of the season’s sideways 9-8 start, the NBA witnessed a predictable play out of the James-Maverick Carter playbook on Monday morning. They planted a story and exposed themselves again as jokers of the highest order. They care so little about anyone but themselves. Still, no one’s surprised that they’d stoop so low, so fast into this supposed historic 73-victory season and NBA Finals sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. They want Spoelstra – and Pat Riley – to bend to them, to bow to the King the way everyone has before them.

You have to love Wojnarowski, who never seems to hide his disgust with LeBron and his camp. As you might imagine, he had a veritable field day after “The Decision.”

But here, he’s alleging that Carter is behind the Spoelstra panic story, but it doesn’t appear tha the accusation has any real basis. In his post, Dwyer just crossed out Carter’s name whenever referring to the source, because he obviously believes that Carter is Chris Broussard’s source. He doesn’t offer any proof, but just writes the piece with a “everybody knows who’s talking to Chris…” vibe.

This is fine for a sports blog because it’s funny and everyone knows it’s tongue-in-cheek, but Wojnarowski took it a step further by saying that LeBron’s camp planted the story as if it were established fact.

And it’s not. At least not yet. Broussard hasn’t revealed his source, and probably never will. The Yahoo writers are just making educated guesses.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this, if anything.

How hot is Erik Spoelstra’s seat?

Feb. 20, 2010: Miami coach Erik Spoelstra during an NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Dallas defeated Miami 97-91.

First, we had Saturday’s possibly intentional bump, and now there’s a report that the Heat players are quietly grumbling about their head coach.

The Miami Heat’s players are frustrated with Erik Spoelstra and some are questioning whether he is the right coach for their team, according to people close to the situation.

In contrast to the popular view that Spoelstra has been hesitant to jump on superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, sources say the Heat coach has shown no fear in criticizing them.

Exhibit A was a recent shootaround in which Spoelstra told James that he had to get more serious. The source said Spoelstra called James out in front of the entire team, telling him, “I can’t tell when you’re serious.”

“He’s jumping on them,” one source said. “If anything, he’s been too tough on them. Everybody knows LeBron is playful and likes to joke around, but Spoelstra told him in front of the whole team that he has to get more serious. The players couldn’t believe it. They feel like Spoelstra’s not letting them be themselves.”

He’s not letting them be themselves. That’s classic. So if a coach is irritated by the lack of seriousness of one of his players, he’s just supposed to let it go? I suspect that Spoelstra would be a lot more lenient if the Heat were meeting expectations, but when you have this much talent and are hovering one or two games above .500, it’s understandable that the HEAD FREAKING COACH might want a certain level of seriousness from one of his team’s leaders.

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