Visualizing the NBA Finals With Interactive Shot Charts


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The 2012 NBA Finals start tonight as the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat square off for the right to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy. As is the case when a popular sports series comes to the surface, the Internet is not lacking for content dedicated to it, in this case, the NBA Finals. As writers look for any kind of edge in the series, at least in relation to their picks, we are the beneficiaries of this content.

Whether it's in depth statistical breakdowns, crazy flowcharts or looking at recent NBA trends to try and figure out who wins, the Internet is not lacking in regards to quality NBA Finals content.

The New York Times also weighed in here with some impressive visual shot charts that give a great sense of where the points will probably come from during the OKC/Miami series. Not only are these charts informative, they also feature some sweet interactive flair for the individual player shot charts. For instance, the shot chart for the two biggest names in the series--LeBron and Kevin Durant--look like this when you load the page:


However, when you mouse over either image, the actual shot chart for the player appears, like so:


The charts can also be refined to show only 3-point shots, midrange shots, or shots taken at the rim. It's almost like a playground for basketball stat fiends. The only drawback, if this can even be considered one, is in order to have the face charts magically transform into the shot charts more than once, you have to reload the entire page. I know, hitting the F5 button can be a chore, but it's a small sacrifice to make.

With that in mind, which team are you going pick to win it all? Do these statistical breakdowns play any part in your pick? Based on what I've seen, while the sports-watching world focuses on Durant and LeBron, I'm curious to see how the Heat keep Russell Westbrook out of the paint without putting LeBron James on him.

[Via Flowing Data]