Thursday features a pair of Game 6s with the home teams – Philadelphia and Dallas – looking to stay alive and force a Game 7 back at the higher-seeded team’s home court on Saturday.
After playing one another five times in less than two weeks, there aren’t many strategic surprises to unveil at this point in a playoff series. The Heat know the Sixers’ offensive schemes and vice versa, so it really comes down to which team can execute their game plan at the highest level, create good shots and knock them down.
The table below breaks down the shooting data for both teams by the closest defender on all shot attempts outside of 10 feet through the first five games of the series.
|MIA||0-2 Feet – Very Tight||1||2||50.0||50.0|
|MIA||2-4 Feet – Tight||21||63||33.3||38.9|
|MIA||4-6 Feet – Open||34||104||32.7||41.3|
|MIA||6+ Feet – Wide Open||32||84||38.1||53.0|
|PHI||0-2 Feet – Very Tight||1||2||50.0||50.0|
|PHI||2-4 Feet – Tight||29||81||35.8||44.4|
|PHI||4-6 Feet – Open||37||97||38.1||51.0|
|PHI||6+ Feet – Wide Open||17||60||28.3||41.7|
Let’s focus on the wide-open looks – shot attempts where the closest defender is at least six feet away from the shooter. We can see that through five games, the Heat have generated 24 more wide-open looks compared to the Sixers (84-60) and knocked down those shot attempts at a much higher percentage (38.1% to 28.3%).
It’s also important to look at which players are getting these open shots. Below is a list of Philadelphia’s 60 wide-open field goal attempts against the Heat. Danny Green is the only Sixer that has made more than a third of his wide-open looks while the three players that have seen the most uncontested shots – Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Georges Niang – have combined to shoot just 9-36 (25.0%) in the series.
We see a sharp contrast when looking at Miami’s 84 wide-open looks as only three players are shooting lower than 37% on uncontested shots. Meanwhile, the three players that have seen the most wide-open looks – Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker – have combined to shoot 18-43 (41.9%), including 13-33 (39.4%) on 3-point attempts.
Below is a game-by-game look at how the Heat and Sixers have fared on all uncontested shots in the conference semifinals. The team that shot the higher percentage on open looks has won each game in this series.
|1||MIA 106-92||MIA +0.4||22||56||39.3||21||54||38.9|
|2||MIA 119-103||MIA +9.6||24||46||52.2||20||47||42.6|
|3||PHI 99-79||PHI +26.6||11||47||23.4||23||46||50.0|
|4||PHI 116-108||PHI +6.3||21||58||36.2||17||40||42.5|
|5||MIA 120-85||MIA +14.2||29||57||50.9||18||49||36.7|
We see a bit of a different story playing out in the Western Conference semifinals between Phoenix and Dallas as the Mavericks have generated more wide-open looks than the Suns (105-74) but trail 3-2 in the series entering Thursday night.
|PHX||0-2 Feet – Very Tight||3||4||75.0||75.0|
|PHX||2-4 Feet – Tight||37||84||44.0||50.0|
|PHX||4-6 Feet – Open||45||101||44.6||56.4|
|PHX||6+ Feet – Wide Open||32||74||43.2||59.5|
|DAL||0-2 Feet – Very Tight||0||1||0.0||0.0|
|DAL||2-4 Feet – Tight||13||44||29.5||38.6|
|DAL||4-6 Feet – Open||47||121||38.8||48.8|
|DAL||6+ Feet – Wide Open||44||105||41.9||61.9|
Let’s look at which players are attempting the most wide-open looks and how well they are shooting in those situations. For the Suns, we see Jae Crowder leads the way with the most makes (10) and attempts (17) and has an impressive effective field goal percentage (82.4%) when he is left open by the Mavs. However, he is the only Suns player with more than five wide-open attempts and shooting better than 45% on those looks.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks have three players – Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber – that have more wide-open shot attempts than any player on the Suns. All three players have posted an effective field goal percentage over 65 percent on these open looks, with Finney-Smith leading the way in makes (12), attempts (26) and conversion rate (46.2 FG%, 69.2 eFG%).
While the Mavericks have created 31 more wide-open shots and made 12 more than the Suns in this series, Phoenix still holds a 3-2 series lead thanks in part to their success on contested jumpers. Through five games, the Suns are shooting a higher percentage on shots outside 10 feet with the defender within four feet (45.5%, 40-88 FG) than they are on open looks with the closest defender at least four feet away (44.0%, 77-175 FG).
Let’s take a closer look at their player breakdown on shot attempts that are defined as either tight (closest defender 2-4 feet away) or very tight (closest defender within 2 feet) in this series to see who stood out the most.
The two players to focus on here are Devin Booker and Chris Paul, who are both shooting well above their season averages on contested shots. During the regular season, Booker shot 41.9% (178-425) on contested shots outside of 10 feet from the basket, with a 45.8 effective field goal percentage. Through five games of this series, Booker has shot 48.65 (18-37) on contested shots, with an eFG% of 58.1.
Paul has seen a similar bump from the regular season to this series, with his effective field goal percentage rising from 44.2 in the regular season to 59.4 in the conference semifinals. During the regular season, Paul shot 43.2% (60-139) on contested shots outside of 10 feet, including 3-20 from 3-point range. Through the first five games of this series, Paul is shooting 56.3% (9-16) and has made his only contested 3-point attempt.