Comparing ’07 Cavs and ’14 Heat Finals performances

Were the 2014 NBA Finals deja vu for LeBron James?

The Cleveland Cavaliers of 2007 and Miami Heat of 2014 both played — and were quickly dispatched by — the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

San Antonio finished off those LeBron James-led Cavs in a sweep, while James’ Miami team were finished in five by the Spurs in this season’s title series. With the Spurs’ utter domination comes many questions for Miami — was too much put on LeBron’s shoulders? Were the Spurs just that good?

While Miami was able to do something the ’07 Cavs couldn’t — take a game from the Spurs — their losses were all blowouts, the Spurs winning by 15 or more in each of their four victories.

Those ’07 Cavs, on the other hand, lost only one game by double digits and came very close in the final two games of the series, losing Game 3 by three points and Game 4 by just one.

Deadspin’s Kyle Wagner broke down the Finals numbers of the role players alongside James for both the ’14 Heat and ’07 Cavs:

"Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined to post a game score of 18.5 (7.9 and 10.6, respectively). In 2007, when LeBron and the Cavs were swept by the Spurs, Drew Gooden and Boobie Gibson combined for 17.5. If you expand to the teams’ top seven non-LeBron rotational players, the ’07 Cavs actually pull ahead, with a combined Game Score of 42.2 to the ’14 Heat’s 36.2. Which is to say, LeBron had more help in the Finals in 2007 than he did this year."

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Interesting. The game score calculation which Wagner uses as the basis for his argument is supposed to give a cumulative representation of a player’s performance, formed from the following formula: PTS + 0.4 * FG – 0.7 * FGA – 0.4*(FTA – FT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK – 0.4 * Personal Fouls — Turnover %

Defensive performances should also be taken into account. In ’14, the Spurs scored 100 or more points in all four of their wins, while in ’07 they did just once. Great defense doesn’t mean much when you can’t score enough to make it worth something but it’s certainly notable how much the Heat were just blindsided by the Spurs’ ball movement and shot creation.

In the 12 games of the past two Finals between Miami and San Antonio, the Heat won five, of which the Spurs reached the century mark only once, right at 100 points in the 2013 Game 6 overtime loss.

The pacing of that Spurs-Cavs matchups was much different with the Spurs only needing 100 points once and the Cavs finishing two games in the 70s.