- Heat-Spurs: Finals Hub
MIAMI – Overreaction is an unintended consequence of the postseason, so the tendency after Miami’s 103-84 rout of San Antonio in Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals will be to think all sorts of bold thoughts about the Heat and an equal number of worrisome things about the Spurs.
If Game 1 provided a license to overreact to San Antonio’s (cough) poise and patience, for example, this one ought to be good for a little in the other direction. Better yet, overreacting by definition requires something sweeping and grand, suitable for a Finals.
- San Antonio cannot expect to win again if it can’t capitalize on a 3-for-13 shooting night by LeBron James through the first three quarters. By that point, Miami led by 10 anyway and it got no better for the visitors.
- The Spurs must make at least half of their 3-pointers the rest of these Finals, as they did Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena, if they’re going to shoot 37.9 percent from inside the arc against Miami’s defense.
- As for tinkering with their Game 1 formula, San Antonio should have stayed away from the additive labeled “Quadruple your turnover total.” In the opener, they handled the ball as if it were their first-born, committing only four turnovers worth eight points to the Heat. This time, they threw the ball away — sometimes unforced, and wildly — 17 times, contributing 19 points to Miami’s cause. And discombobulating (16 assists) their own attack.
- Someone needs to break the news to Tony Parker that, while he might be the best point guard in the NBA this postseason, Miami’s Mario Chalmers can lay claim to being the big-game guy of the moment in this series. Chalmers scored nine points during his team’s 23-3 run across six minutes in the second half — from 3:11 of the third quarter to 9:11 of the fourth — that took the Heat from a 62-61 deficit to an 84-65 bench-clearing.
- The Spurs will not prevail if their Big 3 — Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili — shoots 10-for-33 again and gets outscored by a dozen points by the Heat’s Big 3. Then again, Miami cannot possibly succeed if its three big guys — James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — manage only 39 points.
Taken to extremes, overreaction will lead to a point where nobody can win. And obviously someone will. At this point in the playoffs, the answers come from adjustments, counters and responses, not from sweeping pronouncements. A 19-point loss still counts one.
Still, little will improve for the Spurs if they cannot handle the ball and themselves better against Miami’s defensive pressure. The Heat might not have swiped or deflected each of San Antonio’s errant passes, but they messed with lanes and angles to send them astray. Miami’s defense was heavy on hands and rotating more quickly, turning five men into what must have felt like six or seven to San Antonio.
It’s up to the Spurs, too, to react to losing with something approaching Miami’s urgency and intensity. They may have squandered a real opportunity in the 2-3-2 format to avoid a trip back to south Florida (few home teams win the middle three games). Now they need to do what the Heat did, in terms of effort and emotional bounce-back.
If there was something early Eastern Conference finals about the Heat in The Finals opener, there was something decidedly Game 7, East finals, about this one.
In that game, the Pacers got pasted in the clincher.
Miami grabbed this one by the throat, too.
“Miami played their ass off,” prickly Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Said Ginobili: “We have basically no shot winning a game against them if none of us [Spurs stars] played good.”
San Antonio got some helpful contributions from its supporting cast — Danny Green with 17 points and 5-for-5 from the arc, Kawhi Leonard‘s 14 rebounds and work on James — but Miami had a full-blown solar system in orbit around its Big 3.
Chalmers led them all with 19 points, at his irrepressible best when the unstoppable James was, for a while, quite stoppable. Ray Allen hit three 3-pointers again and scored 13 again, Mike Miller gimped his way through 16 minutes for nine points and, for a moment in the second quarter, Chris “Birdman” Andersen improbably was Miami’s leading scorer.
“I know I attract a lot of attention,” James said. “This team has been set up the right way where, when I do attract attention, we have guys that can make plays.
“Tonight was another case of that. They packed the paint on me. I seen two bodies, unless I was in transition when I missed a copule of bunnies. … My shooters just needed a little bit of room. Mike showed that, Ray showed that and ‘Rio [Chalmers] showed that.”
As for reports of James’ demise, when he was at his worst, his team led by five and then 10. His numbers by the end were solid — 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals, three blocks (including a highlight stop on Tiago Splitter) — and only one player in the game scored more than nine points in the second half. That’s right, James with 13.
The guy over whom so many overreact so often wasn’t falling into that trap off Game 2, however thorough the thumping. Asked what conclusions can be drawn from his 18-18-10 performance in defeat Thursday vs. his 17-8-7 in blowout triumph Sunday, James basically shrugged.
“Whatever conclusion you want,” he said. “It’s a 1-1 series. That’s the only conclusion I know. We look forward to Game 3.”