Spurs don’t need to adjust as much as you think for Game 3
It wasn’t so much the plan as the execution of it.
Despite what the final score suggests, San Antonio did a number of things right in Game 2. They once again made things difficult for LeBron James — through two games he is averaging 17.5 points on 42.4 percent shooting. He started Sunday night 2-of-12 shooting. Yes, he’s getting boards and dishing out assists and blocking Tiago Splitter at the rim, but he is not dominating games like he is capable.
The Spurs also did a good job for most of the first seven quarters of this series taking away the transition baskets that fuel the massive Heat runs that no team can match. San Antonio has made a point of getting back and clogging the lane.
What failed the Spurs in Game 2 not design but the execution of the plan. They had 17 turnovers, and while the Heat cranked up their defensive pressure a lot of those were just bad passes and decisions by the Spurs. The kind they don’t normally make. When was the last time you saw Tim Duncan pass the ball into the first row? Don’t expect those same mental mistakes in Game 3.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to shoot 10-of-33 on the night. Duncan and Parker can be expected to have better games going forward (Manu, we’re not so sold).
If the Spurs get back to executing like they know how, they will be right in Game 3. They are not going to change their defense much because they shouldn’t — you contain LeBron and make the other guys beat you. Tuesday night they did.
But there are a couple other things they need to get back to doing.
One key is they have to get back to attacking in the middle of the court. Tony Parker attacking from the top of the key and getting into the paint will break down any defense, including the Heat. But not only did Miami crank up its pressure it worked hard at controlling the middle of the court and pushing the Spurs wide. Chris Andersen was particularly good at blowing up Spurs plays. That pressure led to Danny Green threes but not enough points in the paint. San Antonio has to take back the middle of the court.
Another, they have to figure out the LeBron/Chalmers pick and roll. Miami did a good job of starting it’s pick-and-roll lower — below the free throw line if possible, often more in the elbow area — and that plus an attacking Mario Chalmers forced the Spurs to make quicker help decisions and the result was lanes to attack or passing lanes to Mike Miller and Ray Allen at the arc.
Miami is still going to get its points — this was the best offense in the NBA this past season. That LeBron guy is still pretty good. But if the Spurs take care of the ball then make a few more shots they can squelch those Heat runs and stay right in the game.
That’s what we should expect in Game 3.