Ladies and gentlemen… now basketball! For all those fans who the San Antonio Spurs and their “boring” basketball the Western Conference in the NBA Finals, please stop. This is how basketball should be played and the perfect juxtaposition to the fast breaking high-flying Miami Heat. Watching Game 1 regardless of who you were rooting for gave you a little of everything:
A quick start by the well rested road team… Everyone was worried if the extended rest by the Spurs would put too must rust on them but they jumped out to a quick 9-2 start and had four different San Antonio players contribute to the total.
A mature home team withstanding the early barrage and control of the game… But as quickly as the Spurs got out to that lead, the Heat showed their composure by battling back to take the lead by end the opening quarter with a 24-23 and control most of the game until the midway through the final quarter.
… While many thought it would be point guard Tony Parker leading the way power forward found the fountain of youth and was able to lead team20 14 rebound . LeBron James was the ever steady LeBron 3 shots 6 points in the fourth quarter of a tight gameis unacceptable, his balance him to post his third NBA Finals triple double finishing with 18 points 18 rebounds 10 assist
And a climactic play to seal the deal… If you polled most fans prior to the game on who would hit a big shot at the end of the game many would have said LeBron James and ironically he was on the defensive side of Tony imitation of a Harlem Globetrotter when he went to the floor, kept his dribble, and hit an double clutch jumper with only seconds left on the shot clock to put the Spurs up by 4 with 5.2 seconds left.
Going into Game 2 there are things both teams could tighten up on to help make it a series if you are Miami or take full control of it going back home for three straight games if you are San Antonio.
What Miami must do in Game 2:
LeBron must be more MJ than Magic: Yes the Triple double was nice and its admirable that he is trying to get the rest of his teammates involved in the game but 18 points is unacceptable for a finals MVP who is widely considered to be one of the best players to ever play the game. If he expects the Heat to remain in this series he must look to score more, preferably on the block.
Turn up the heat: By upping the up the on ball pressure against the Pacers in Game 5 and 7 the Heat were able to force 38 turnovers which allowed Miami to score 43 points. In game 1 Miami only was able to force the Spurs into an astonishingly low 4 turnovers, so it may be in Coach Spoelstra’s best interest to apply that same on-ball pressure especially to Spurs players like Leonard, Green and the post players who may not be used to handling the ball as much in hopes of creating opportunities for LeBron and company to get out on the break and create easier transition baskets.
Keep the supporting cast involved: Yes the “Beast in 6” needs to score more as previously mentioned but it was a welcome sight for Miami supporters seeing Ray Allen aka Jesus Shuttlesworth finally get into a grove by scoring 13 points with 9 of them coming from behind the arc. If he can continue that type of shooting in addition to getting some type of contribution from the Udonis Haslem/Chris “Birdman” Anderson power forward tandem and the point guard combo of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, the Big 3 should be able to capitalize on the good looks the Spurs D will give them by having to play more straight up on defense.
What San Antonio must do in Game 2:
Keep Composed: Champions don’t get rattled easy and after being down 8 on a couple of occasions midway through the game, Coach Popovich stuck to his game plan, rotation, and eventually the Spurs, who were led by their two stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan were able to chip away and get the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter. In Game 2 the Heat will be focused and determined to even the series so its essential that they fight through the early barrage that will come at them.
Stay Shooting: For first timers Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Gary Neal being on the NBA Finals stage on the road can be an overwhelming experience and it showed. Going a combined 10-27 from the field, the 37% may not look the best, but the 27 points contributed by this trio should keep them confident enough in their ability to shoot better which will keep Duncan, Parker and Ginobili in more one on one match-ups. With the Heat looking to apply pressure in hopes of forcing more turnovers that extra pass the Spurs offense is known for will keep the ball in their hands with open looks, so they must be willing to keep bombing away.
Know the battle is already won: With the 2-3-2 format being in place for the Finals, the road team generally wants to get home with at least a split in the series. While their fans would be ecstatic for the team to head back to the Alamo with a 2-0 series lead, the Spurs just want to make sure the get back home with a healthy team that is still confident in their chances to win the series. If the Heat has to struggle to capture Game 2 or it takes a memorable moment to even the series, most will agree that momentum still will be with the Spurs.
While many basketball fans point back to the Heat losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals before taking control of the series, they also must remember that was on the road, and the Heat weren’t coming off a 7 game battle with a more physical team in Indiana and are facing the Spurs who are a more complete team than the OKC. In spite of all of that the Heat and more importantly LeBron James understand the seriousness of this game for the rest of the series and the “King” will impose his will and get enough help from his Heat teammates to win the game in convincing fashion. Heat 93 Spurs 83