Miami Heat 103 San Antonio Spurs 84 — NBA Finals Game 2

It would be a mistake to take away too much from this game. As noted in the comments to the last thread, this was a predictable blowout for the Heat. Must win for them, meaningless game for the Spurs.

I did note a few interesting developments:         

1) I’ve been harping on the need to double team Tony Parker. The Heat took that much more seriously in this game than the last. The result: 13 points on 5-13. As many turnovers as assists: 5.

84 points for the Spurs as a team. 16 TOs, as opposed to 4 the last game.

The Spurs cannot run offense when Parker is doubled. Manu Ginobili is dead, and there is no one else who can initiate.

2) Dwayne Wade is dead too. Danny Green lit him up in the first half, because Wade is now too slow to both fulfill his obligations in the lane, and recover to guard the three. Spoelstra adjusted at half time, putting Lebron on Green, and shifting Wade to Kawhi Leonard. Leonard then immediately lit Wade up, hitting an open three, and overpowering him on a layup And One in the lane.

This is what it’s come to. The once all-world defender has to be hidden on defense. Because of his knee injury, he is the worst defender on the floor. The Heat’s defense improved immediately when Wade left the floor in the third quarter.

He’s also killing the Heat on offense. He’s no longer fast enough to create separation on the fast-break, no longer the finisher he was. And in the half-court, those mid-range jump shots he’s getting are the least efficient offense the Heat can run. He got 0 points in the second half before getting benched.

Can the Heat win on the road with Wade in this condition? I think we can expect him to get weaker as the series progresses.

Is Erik Spoelstra strong enough to bench Wade in crunch time? He may have to be, because it looks to me like the Heat are a better team without him.

3) Mario Chalmers is certainly a much better player without Wade on the floor. Chalmers had a terrific Finals last year, but in the regular season this year, he once again had to play third fiddle to LeBron and Wade, both of whom are ball-dominant.

Chalmers showed in this game that he might be an answer on offense for the Heat. He and Lebron James ran a very efficient pick and roll in the third quarter that led to the Heat’s offensive explosion.

Chalmers’ ability to get into the lane and finish is troublesome for the Spurs. They really struggle against penetrating point guards.

31 Responses to Miami Heat 103 San Antonio Spurs 84 — NBA Finals Game 2

  1. The way the Heat defended Parker is a lot like how the Spurs defended Curry.

    Pop is going to have to figure out how to get Green more shots. He’s been shooting out of his mind these playoffs and if he can keep Lebron out of the lane, things should continue to open up for Splitter and Duncan at the rim. You are right about Wade. What we saw tonight was the Heat at their best with Lebron facilitating rather than. the first scoring option.

  2. Yeah, Popovich is going to have to come up with an answer for the Heat double-teaming Parker. I wonder if he’ll run a 2-PG lineup and possibly move Parker to the off guard. He has lots of alternatives. According to ESPN, the Spurs list five (!) PGs not named Ginobili. Pop ran 4 of them last night. That might have been him experimenting, the mad scientist in his lab.

    Also, after last night I suspect we’ve probably seen the last of BigBall from the Spurs. Very little more Duncan+Splitter. With Wade hobbled, the Spurs’ smalls can be better than the Heat’s smalls.

    On a slightly different topic, I continue to be hugely impressed with Kawhi Leonard. 14 rebounds and tremendous D on James. Not bad for a guy who lined up against a wimpy 2 guard in the last playoff series.

    • I agree on Leonard. What a player. So quiet and so effective. Amazing D.

      It helps him, though, that Pop has the gameplan to simply let LeBron shoot jumpshots. Kawhi is sagging off, taking away the drive.

      If the Heat continue to try to hide Wade on him, he’s going to have to assert himself and take a bigger role on offense.

  3. Felty: Whose the better player Thompson or Leonard? Which player would you like to see on the Warriors and would help them more?

    • Apples and oranges. But the Warriors are desperate for a defensive stopper of Leonard’s caliber.

      • have not seen a player of leonard’s size defend and rebound and run the court like him since wilkes. unfortunately, if the lacobites find a player like him it will more likely happen by luck, not design, because of all that’s invested in barnes.

        • I’m very bullish on Klay’s career. I see multiple All-Star selections in his future.

          If Klay only slows down his fear of getting his shot blocked at the rim – many of those layups he misses are makeable – and Klay decides to take it to the rim more often instead of settling for long 2s, his efficiency improves dramatically.

          Taking it to the rim more, he’ll get to the line more, his efficiency improves.

          Or like FB says – he plays more SF, there will be some mismatches he can exploit. His rebounding numbers should improve.

          I was blown away with Thompson’s improvement on defense which FAR exceeded my low expectations… By the end of the season, Klay played the best perimeter defense on the team. Quick and long enough to stay in front of quicker PGs and long and strong enough to keep SGs/SFs at bay. Drawing the tough defensive assignments – and impressing…

  4. Felty: Did the Warriors double-team Parker?

  5. The Warriors also need a SF or a coach who will position his SF’s or SG’s in a position to garner offensive rebounds. Leonard had eight last night, and the Spurs scored off many of them.

  6. The Grizzlies let Lionel Hollins go. No surprise there, and I would be amazed if another team is dumb enough to hire him. He proved himself to be an inferior, behind the times NBA coach this season, with a terrific team that deserved better.

    • from what we’ve seen, could we say that the preacher is cut from significantly different cloth than hollins ? depending on the roster lacob is willing to pay for, the party line might just take a ‘hold’ position with the team and expect no more from jackson than getting another lower playoff seed. they’ll be in an extended honeymoon period, and jackson is probably getting another contract. hard to assess though how close he might be to the upper limit of his incompetence.

      • I was very impressed by Jackson this season. He was forced to coach two entirely different teams (with and without Bogut). Three, if you count the team that played with Bogut but without David Lee. He demonstrated a dynamism of strategy and tactics, and a great instinct for adjustments. For all his experience in the league, Hollins can’t hold a candle to Jackson’s abilities. He is a far inferior coach.

        Reading the post-mortems of the Spurs fiasco, there is evidence that his team quit on Hollins. At least two players got in verbal altercations with him. That is what happens on teams when the players know the coach is incompetent and getting his ass handed to him.

        There is a lot of press coverage about Jackson’s motivational abilities, how he treats his players and how they respond to him. All of that would be as nothing if they didn’t respect him as a coach. He did a hell of a job on the floor this season, under extremely difficult circumstances.

        • it’s a comfort to know that you and lacob agree on something, as such smart people should be able to do. when the brass declined to exercise rush’s injury exemption to reinforce the bench and saw the great bogut revival indefinitely postponed by early Dec., they were probably prepared to endure a .500-ish season. instead they were thrilled with the winning streaks, ironically made possible by bogut’s absence because the preacher had carte blanche to put lee at center extensively. to jackson’s credit he developed the three drafted rookies and saw them all contribute, with the small cost of marginalizing biedrins, jenkins, jefferson, tyler. the cushion gained from that success helped them endure the reintegration of bogut while they were chasing a playoff berth.

          two of the players essential for jackson’s success were veterans who’d been considered solid and reliable but not critically important on a successful team, jack and lee. jack’s situation promises drama over the summer and fall either way — if he stays, can he reprise his career year and is the team’s success sustainable, if he goes, will myers put together a winning bench.

          • At the beginning of the Denver and San Antonio playoff series under Coach Mark Jackson – I felt the W’s always had a decent chance of winning, even though they were the heavy underdogs. I’d hadn’t had this feeling since Don Nelson was coaching. Mark’s got the team actually believing that they can beat any team in any situation – the hallmark of a great coach.

            Also, kudos to the W’s Front Office – for the strategy of compiling a team full of high(er)-character, team-first players – which paid off with great team chemistry: Jack, Landry, Rush, Lee, Curry, Klay, Harrison, Green, Ezeli, Jefferson,… Coach Jackson has a lot of team-first players here to coach, refreshing in this day and age… Players who I’ve enjoyed watching over the years – say a younger Kenyon Martin – will probably never be able to play in GS – they don’t “fit” the team personality. Reminiscent of The San Antonio Spurs… Lots of team-first guys there…

            I don’t know what the solution is for replacing Jack and/or Landry – but I do feel confident that the W’s have the infrastructure/organizational talent – to uncover a couple of gems…

  7. I’ll be curious to follow the careers of Barnes and Green. Both were Tarheel stars. Green had to work his way into the lineup the hard way—and learned. Barnes had his spot handed to him. Also whatever expectations teams had of Green quickly vanished, and he didn’t have to deal with all the star hoopla that surrounds Barnes.

  8. @ #2:

    Great call on game strategy!

  9. How important was Parker last night—and the attention paid to him—in freeing up Neal and Green? Parker is getting an MRI today—can they run an offense without him?

  10. With the Warriors making it to the second round, for those of us who are not impressed with Jackson, we will have to endure the slop being thrown our way.

    Just keep in mind that Jackson slowed down the pace after the first game against the Spurs and he thereby forfeited any chance of the Warriors winning the series and we didn’t shoot very well as a result of playing slow ball. Yes, players being injured contributed to our elimination, but it hardly tells the whole story.

    No one even argues we should have jettisoned Jackson and kept Malone. They should.

    And now we have posters arguing how great they feel seeing Jackson on the sideline over Nelson. Sorry, have to go run to the bathroom and puke.

    The only good things the Warriors did since the new ownership took over was signing Jack and Landry, and trading for Rush.

    Signing Jackson as coach, not drafting Leonard over Thompson, not amnestying Biedrins which would have allowed us to trade Thompson for Harden, making the foolish trade of Udoh and Ellis for an injured player and a bloated contract, and drafting Barnes over Harkless, has contributed to the Warriors being out in the second round. In L & M we trust. Not.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when drafting Ezeli and Green, are the measures of success.

    And one has to wait and see if the Warriors can keep Jack, and somehow improve the roster between now and opening day next season. There is a possibility it can be done, but will it happen?

  11. Against the Heat finals, Leonard gave the Spurs a net 3 extra possessions in the first game, a net 7 in the second game, and a net 6 in the third game. Thompson is at best break even.

    Is Thompson ok? Yes. Will we ever see Thompson in an all-star game or in the Hall of Fame? Not.

    • I don’t know, Frank. Can’t say never. Playing the way Thompson did this year, no, that’s not an AllStar game.

      But he was tons better this year than last, and if he continues to improve he could be great. There’s no way to know what Thompson’s ceiling is. Feltie thinks it’s pretty high, and he’s generally got a good eye for the game. He could be right.

      • thompson played about 1000 min. more than leonard in the regular season. if jack leaves, rush returns, the preacher needs to alter his rotation so thompson can concentrate on quality minutes and shot selection. leonard will always be his superior in speed and strength and on the boards.

        • Strength and boards, yes. Speed? Not sure. Shooting? Thompson will probably be better overall. I think Thompson is/will be a better ball handler too.

  12. @ 9

    Parker left the game early in the 4th. The lead continued to grow after that. I think the Heat were prepared to deal with Parker’s game, but that’s not what Popovich gave them in the 2nd half.

    Not including Ginobili, the Spurs list 5 (!) point guards on their roster, and 4 of them played last night. The Spurs broke open the game by running 1 big and 4 smalls shooting from range. Popovich tested (and beat) Miami’s lack of perimeter speed. It worked because Wade and Miller are hobbled, Allen is not quick, Chalmers got in early foul trouble, and Battier is mysteriously incapacitated. And, of course, the Spurs shot the lights out.

    • Parker only made a brief appearance 4th. Q and really went out halfway through the 3rd., with the game almost in hand. None of the other guards are as adept at running an offense, but if Parker goes down, I’m curious to see if they can still keep the offense going with Green and Neal and if Miami can adapt.

      • “Parker only made a brief appearance 4th. Q and really went out halfway through the 3rd., with the game almost in hand.”

        Yes, and the lead continued to grow as Parker sat. What are you disputing, exactly?

        Pop’s radically different game strategy made Parker largely redundant. The Spurs packed the paint on D and spread the floor with 3-point shooters on O. Neither is a particular strength of Parker’s.

        Will Miami adjust? Yes, but… probably more with offense than with major defensive changes. Miami should have been able to take advantage of the Spurs’ bigs in the 2nd half last night, but barely attacked the rim at all. In other words, they permitted the Spurs to play extremely small last night.

        I think Miami will (try to) make the Spurs pay dearly for it next time. For his part, Pop will continue with what worked until Miami makes it not work.

        My guess: I don’t think the Heat has enough healthy wing players to slow down SA’s perimeter shooting. It’s going to be interesting.

        • I just want to see if they can get started and score without Parker. Miami will struggle if playing catchup mode, my point, which is what happened last night.

  13. Hat: There is room for Thompson to improve. I can see him getting some offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line. Next year is his year to show this. If he doesn’t, forget it.

    I don’t see much room for improvement in his garnering more steals or making less turnovers. Don’ think he will become a consistent shooter or finish off drives consistently, but he might.

    • Joe Montana used to say that as he got more experience his game vision improved. You can see that in the NBA, too. Compare Thompson’s completely clueless D last year vs his D at the end of this season. Or his shot selection this yr. vs. last – much improvement.

      Thompson still has some room to grow, but he also has time before we have to say he’s topped out. Let’s wait and see on that.

      After watching the team play of the Spurs, I think Thompson’s biggest room for improvement is in playing better with others. That goes double for Barnes, too. Maybe the Montana Effect will kick in for both of them sometime.

    • Thompson will improve if he has a full team and system that will allow him to grow. Again, look at Neal and Green.

  14. What happened to my post on Hansbrough?