Spurs set modern record for NBA Finals offensive rating

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The Spurs clobbered the Heat in the NBA Finals, setting a record by outscoring Miami by 70 points.

How did they do it?

Though it’s defense was fine, San Antonio gained its big advantage on offense.

The Spurs moved the ball, got open looks and knocked them down. It seems simple, but they perfected the scheme and its nuances.

San Antonio scored 119.0 points per 100 possessions – the best offensive rating in any Finals since at least 1978, when the NBA began tracking turnovers.

Here’s the offensive ratings (black) and defensive ratings (silver) of every NBA champion in the Finals since then. (Click to enlarge.)

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Team Offensive rating Defensive rating
2014 SAS (d. MIA, 4-1) 119.0 102.8
1989 DET (d. LAL, 4-0) 117.2 109.5
1995 HOU (d. ORL, 4-0) 116.3 105.6
2002 LAL (d. NJN, 4-0) 115.2 102.2
1987 LAL (d. BOS, 4-2) 114.7 111.3
2012 MIA (d. OKC, 4-1) 112.9 106.4
1991 CHI (d. LAL, 4-1) 112.0 101.7
1985 LAL (d. BOS, 4-2) 110.3 105.8
2008 BOS (d. LAL, 4-2) 109.5 101.3
1993 CHI (d. PHO, 4-2) 109.2 109.4
2001 LAL (d. PHI, 4-1) 108.4 99.1
1986 BOS (d. HOU, 4-2) 108.1 102.5
2009 LAL (d. ORL, 4-1) 108.0 97.2
2000 LAL (d. IND, 4-2) 107.9 113.5
1992 CHI (d. POR, 4-2) 107.8 99.9
1983 PHI (d. LAL, 4-0) 107.6 95.5
2011 DAL (d. MIA, 4-2) 107.5 105.3
2013 MIA (d. SAS, 4-3) 106.6 105.6
1996 CHI (d. SEA, 4-2) 105.8 103.9
1984 BOS (d. LAL, 4-3) 105.8 108.7
1990 DET (d. POR, 4-1) 105.7 100.1
1982 LAL (d. PHI, 4-2) 105.3 104.7
2004 DET (d. LAL, 4-1) 105.0 92.4
1988 LAL (d. DET, 4-3) 104.7 109.8
1980 LAL (d. PHI, 4-2) 103.9 99.6
2010 LAL (d. BOS, 4-3) 102.8 98.5
2007 SAS (d. CLE, 4-0) 102.5 94.2
1997 CHI (d. UTA, 4-2) 102.3 101.0
1998 CHI (d. UTA, 4-2) 102.1 93.0
1981 BOS (d. HOU, 4-2) 101.4 91.0
2005 SAS (d. DET, 4-3) 100.3 102.6
2006 MIA (d. DAL, 4-2) 99.3 97.8
1978 WSB (d. SEA, 4-3) 98.7 95.1
1979 SEA (d. WSB, 4-1) 98.1 91.5
1999 SAS (d. NYK, 4-1) 97.7 89.0
2003 SAS (d. NJN, 4-2) 97.4 90.0
1994 HOU (d. NYK, 4-3) 96.2 98.2

There are multiple formulae for estimating number of possessions. I used FGA-ORB+TOV+FTA*.44.