Miami’s New Challenge? Slowing Parker

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MIAMI – There should be no doubt what priority No. 1 for the Miami Heat is when The Finals tip off Thursday night (9 ET, ABC): they must contain Tony Parker.

Parker is the driver of the Spurs’ offense. Via points, assists and turnovers, he has used 31.0 percent of the Spurs’ possessions when he’s been on the floor in the postseason. That’s up from 28.0 percent in the regular season and is higher than LeBron James‘ playoff usage rate (29.1 percent). That number doesn’t include plays where he gets the defense moving, the Spurs get a basket after two or three passes and he doesn’t get credit for the assist.

Simply, the ball is in Parker’s hands a lot. He creates shots for himself and others, and he just tore up the No. 2 defense in the league, averaging 24.5 ppg and 9.5 apg in the Spurs’ sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies to support argument that he’s the best pick-and-roll point guard in the league.

Parker has always been a strong finisher at the rim, consistently shooting about 64 percent in the restricted area over the last 10 seasons. But he has become a much bigger threat to pull up from mid-range this season. He shot 47.2 percent from between the paint and the 3-point line in the regular season, up from 38.7 percent over the previous three seasons. (He’s 55-for-119 — or 46.2 percent — from mid-range in these playoffs.

So, he can do this pretty well …


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With Parker, great ball movement, and a bevy of (other) shooters, the Spurs have the formula to counter the Heat’s aggressive D. They rank first in assist rate, third in turnover rate, and second in 3-point percentage in the playoffs. When the Heat trap or hedge hard on pick-and-rolls, San Antonio should be able to take advantage.

But that doesn’t mean that the Heat are going to change their defensive gameplan. They want to attack those pick-and-rolls, stop Parker in his tracks and keep him from making easy passes. It’s a scheme that worked well (enough) against the Indiana Pacers, but will be much tougher to pull off against the Spurs.

Containing the pick-and-roll is a five-man job, and it starts with Parker’s primary defender: Mario Chalmers.

“I’ve got keep him from rejecting (going away from) the pick,” Chalmers said Wednesday, “go into the pick and go into the heart of our defense.”

Pushing Parker toward the screen is easier said than done, because the Spurs often make it hard to figure out on which side the screen is going to be. Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw will often fake a screen on one side of Parker’s defender, spin around and screen him on the other side. Or Parker will dribble off one screen, crossover, and come back and dribble off another screen from the same guy, going in the opposite direction.

Assuming Parker’s defender sends him the right way, it’s up to the screener’s defender to keep him contained.

“For three or four seconds, we got two-on-one,” Udonis Haslem said. “We got our two defenders against their one offensive player coming off that pick-and-roll. They do a good job of setting the screens. Their bigs do a good job of slipping from time to time, or holding the screen, so we got to patient as defenders not to jump out too early and give up the slip. But also, when Tony Parker comes off that pick with a full head of steam, we got to be ready to slide with him, contain him, and keep him out of the paint.”

That’s also easier said than done. Just ask Zach Randolph


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There was some talk on Wednesday about LeBron James defending Parker at some point in The Finals. That would certainly make it tougher for Parker to get to space, but might also compromise the Heat’s off-ball defense and rebounding.

And the Spurs aren’t just going to be running Parker off straight pick-and-rolls. They also have creative ways to get him the ball on the move, like a pair of cross-screens in this play against the Grizzlies:


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This is a playoff challenge unlike any the Heat have faced thus far, a huge step up from Brandon Jennings, Nate Robinson and George Hill.

“He creates so much offense for them,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So we just have to wear on him. We’ve worked on pick-and-roll defense for three years for matchups like this. And our defense will be tested, but we trust it. We built a lot of habits with it. Throw different bodies in front of him, and then hopefully, there’s a cumulative effect of wearing on him.”

39 Comments

  1. Nobody on heat can handle or slow Parker down, it’s just not happening!
    Go Spurs-Spurs all the way!!!

  2. Justin Deng says:

    Yeah, enough have been said, whatever may come to King James way!, it will be maintain, it is time for miami haters to come into their sense because the king will prevail.

    • Kalbo!! says:

      Not a hater here… But you’re just another superstar-power bandwagoner with an uneducated fan-based biased comment…

  3. richard says:

    miami is a one man team when it cums to team spurs is the best you will all see

  4. Jerome says:

    Ding,ding,ding!

  5. Jay Cee says:

    Heat Game 1 / Tough to say for Game 2, but I will give the leading edge to Heat…Games 3 & 4 will be dependant on who wins on Game 2. If Manu (paint & 3 points) is able to play as well as Parker (paint) and Tiago gets good looks in their pick and roll then Spurs can even the series in Game 2. Since confidence is a ‘key factor’ that contributes to not only ‘individual game’ but also the teams ‘fluidity’ which is the ability to move the ball and make better plays – Game 2 will definitely give way to a more confident Spurs in their home court advantage for games 3 and 4.But as it stands, this series will be won by a team with better defense, low turnovers, smooth transition offense and contributed ‘talent’ from bench players. This will be a good match up.

    – Lakers Fan

  6. Jonas says:

    Again.. and Again.. HEAT HATERS ARE LOSERS BWAHAHAHAHAHA…

  7. YANG says:

    Been a Spurs fan every since 97 when Big Timmy was draft number 1 overall. I believe in the Spurs if we play our game and our role guys step like they have; then we should win the series in 6. We can’t stop Lebron from getting his points but Leonard can slow him down to minimize the impact James has on the game. Tony is too good now and he’s playing at MVP level right now it’s going to be hard to slow him down. Timmy has been constant all year long and the healthiest I seen him. Looks like Timmy drink from the fountain of youth. Manu is Manu and POP has stop coaching him and let Manu do his thing. Just like POP said ” I went from wanting to trade him and the next from wanting to cook breakfast for Manu”.

  8. Casi ladan says:

    lebron james heat em up man

  9. Casi ladan says:

    lebron james heat em up man show dem u dont have da 4 MVP titles for noting

  10. Marko says:

    This final series will be James vs. Parker (USA vs. France) whoever emerge wins it. I dont think Spurs can handle Lebron this is his era. Nobody for now can stop LBJ not even a Parker and the rest of the Spurs

    • Kalbo!! says:

      That’s because no body needs to… But don’t be a hypocrite. Not being able to stop the superstar doesn’t guarantee to win it all… Sigh… Just another superstar-power bandwagoner with an uneducated fan-based biased comment…

  11. Mike says:

    Yes. That’s it Miami. Just concentrate on stopping Parker. Just let Ginobili, Duncan, Bonner, Green, Neal and Leonard go under the radar

  12. 0_o? says:

    Hop in the bandwagon heat haters.. why cant you guys appreciate great entertainment Miami gives you? whether they win or lose. Hats off to Chicago and Indiana for a great series with Miami. I know this is going to be the best series. best teams in the league! cant wait for tip-off..

    • Kalbo!! says:

      Nope, not 1 of them.. I’m not a recent bandwagoner… I don’t even hate LBJ/Heat… I’m a solid Spurs fan right after the last MJ’s 6th ring season. And how could you think that Spurs don’t have much fans.. There are thankfully still a lot of smart people… Apparently, your not 1 of us because you’re just another superstar-power bandwagoner…

  13. the black mamba says:

    spurs in 6 and lebron will choke in the closing seconds of one of those wins

  14. Angelo says:

    Parker will be the best PG Miami’s Big 3 has ever faced. Westbrook and Rose are not really your typical playmakers. So they are an easy target with Heats Attacking D and traps. Rondo is a great playmaker but he doesn’t pose a threat offensively like Parker does. Tony won’t commit turnovers as much as any of them too. TP9 has the jumper, penetration, playmaking ability and also very effective moving without the ball. And he’s not afraid of giving up the ball early if he gets trapped. Spurs in 5.

  15. clint gutierrez says:

    But basketball is not all stats. It also means the present and the unpredictable. So kaleidoscopic. Stop pretending, pseudoseers!

  16. Loki says:

    Parker is going to have to sit down every now and then though. Pop is pretty adamant about resting players to avoid fatigue. Manu has been inconsistent throughout the playoffs so my main worry is not really Parker getting shut down, it’s how well Miami manages to defend when Parker is on the bench and Manu is running the second Unit. On the other hand if Manu is playing like the amazing player he is then I’m not too worried. You don’t really have to shut down Lebron if the rest of Miami doesn’t step it up, and Miami’s bench has been rather disappointing

  17. Thomas says:

    Tony parker is a probably one of the best Pg in the league, no doubt. However the spurs also have a big challenge coming….stopping lebron. I think they ll have more trouble stopping lebron than the heat trying to stop parker. From what i see you can’t stop king james!

    • Kalbo!! says:

      You’re the only person talking about stopping lebron. I appreciate you appreciating Parker… But please use your brain more. No body needs to stop the king. Just slow him down and stop the rest… His lone production would not be enough if that game plan becomes successful.

  18. Chris Miller says:

    miami will win…im sorry pacer fans and bulls fans and lakers fans and the rest of the miami haters. i say this because non of you are true S.A fans. u arent even banwagoners…your just lames praying for the next man to fail. im sorry folks..lebron will not fail. determination is key to this finals.

    • sdadsad says:

      Yes spurs fans do exist, and miami should be used to that because alot of poeple claim miami fans bandwagoners as well even though miami tru fans do exist

    • Bored says:

      Well see when you Lebrat loses the series, he won’t be shaking hands with the winners again. And Miami will have to add even more superstars on their roster next year to make Lebrat win more rings. How many superstars will Lebrat need to win NBA rings, not 1, not 2, not 3, but more superstars! More, more superstar support. And that’s why he is the greatest…duh.

    • Kalbo!! says:

      Nope, not 1 of them.. I’m not a recent bandwagoner… I don’t even hate LBJ/Heat… I’m a solid Spurs fan right after the last MJ’s 6th ring season. And how could you think that Spurs don’t have much fans.. There are thankfully still a lot of smart people… Apparently, your not 1 of us because you’re just another superstar-power bandwagoner…

  19. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    ALL THESE HEAT-HATERS, WOW. YOU GUYS MULTIPLY LIKE RATS.
    GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE, THE HEAT HAVE MADE IT TO THE FINALS 3 YEARS IN A ROW!!! THE HEAT WILL BEAT THE SPURS BECAUSE THEY HAVE LEBRON JAMES THE 4 TIME MVP ON THEIR TEAM, THIS IS NOT THE SAME SPURS FROM 2007 (6YEARS AGO), THEY ARE MUCH OLDER AND CANNOT KEEP UP WITH THE PACE OF LEBRON AND WADE.
    ALL YOU HEAT-HATERS JUST HOP ONTO THE BANDWAGON OF WHOEVER IS PLAYING THE HEAT, FIRST IS IT WAS CHICAGO, THEN INDIANA, NOW ITS THE SPURS… HAHAHAHA… IT’S JUST PATHETIC LOL

    • jay dawg says:

      How can u call the heat the best they first call each up said hey let all play 4 the heat lolol mj said it best i want 2 beat the best u have 3 all stars lolo

    • sdadsad says:

      im cannot deny i have my unjustified biases against the heat and lebron is amazing, but one guy cant carry any team, and also everyone claims spurs too old, not young enough, but heat team age is greater than spurs team age, their only significant old players are duncan, parker, ginobili, and t-mac. Duncan who still can move and still has not been limited by age in any significant way offensively or defensively, and ginobili and parker are still incredibly fast and good, adn t-mac is just t-mac. And i cant say who win, though i am and ahve been a spurs fan, saying they gonna go all the way since the beginning, but it will be a good series

    • Kalbo!! says:

      “THE HEAT HAVE MADE IT TO THE FINALS 3 YEARS IN A ROW!!!” – because the 3 teamed up together?

      “THE HEAT WILL BEAT THE SPURS BECAUSE THEY HAVE LEBRON JAMES THE 4 TIME MVP ON THEIR TEAM,” – i’m very impressed with your talent in logic and reasoning.

      ” THIS IS NOT THE SAME SPURS FROM 2007 (6YEARS AGO), THEY ARE MUCH OLDER AND CANNOT KEEP UP WITH THE PACE OF LEBRON AND WADE.” – how about Spurs are also much more better?

      You know, I don’t hate LBJ or the heat. But lbj/heat fans like you are the reason why haters spread more. It’s because you don’t show respect/credit to others where it is due. And your asking credit for james?

      All in all, another uneducated fan-based biased comment… In short, HYPOCRITE! If not patheticly idiotic.

  20. Loki says:

    Parker wants to do for Duncan what Duncan did for Robinson. Now’s your chance TP! Get that 4th ring for yourself and solidify your legacy amongst the greats!

  21. 6,3,1 says:

    Should be a great series. Decent article. Go HEAT!

  22. Max says:

    James can take care of little brother, Parker. Parker will try to drop a tear drop and wonder where the ball ended up~~~~~~~ Parker doing underhand layups will not work, he will have to speed up to get to the basket to throw under a lay up. Bam, where did that ball go

    • sdadsad says:

      yes james can do good gaurding parker, but that also forces a chalmers or cole to gaurd leonard, who is often underrated because he is fast and very strong, and with lebron on parker, parker can always pull lebron away, forcing him to leave the paint area where he is often able to bother other shots with help defense

  23. mattchew says:

    parker has that jump shot and some 3 point shooting!!! i dont think you can do anything to stop him now!!! i havent seen it in 3 series i dont think miami can do it either??

    • Lakerforlife says:

      he did against the best D in the league in the conference finals..Don’t think Miami will be able to stop him.If Ginobili
      finds his touch heat will go empty handed…

  24. Lakerforlife says:

    I hate to see the Heat win.Hope Tim D gets his 5th ring this time.

  25. 34yr fan says:

    good article….

  26. hipster says:

    The Spurs aren’t like the Pacers. They are better. Enough said.

  27. S.T says:

    The Heat can’t contain Tony Parker! The Grizzlies had Tony Allen on him and Parker still thrived in that series. As a Lakers fan I’m hoping to see a replay of the 2011 finals where ball movement (Mavs) beat individual talent (Heat). The Miami Heat floppers need to be cooled off!