- Series Hub: Spurs-Heat
SAN ANTONIO — We have a silly tendency to overreact, overanalyze and make skyscrapers out of molehills.
Had LeBron James lost his mojo? Has Manu Ginobili lost his entire game? Will Tony Parker be able to run freely for all four quarters with his sore hamstring? Would Dwyane Wade ever be able to zoom around the court again like the Flash?
So after eight days and four games under the intense pressure of the NBA Finals, it was time to come up for air and both teams took the day off Friday to get rest and perhaps give the media a new opportunity to make things complicated before the pivotal Game 5.
You can talk about lineup changes, whether it’s wisest to go over or under on the pick and roll or the price of crude oil on the open market.
Then again, to twist a phrase: It’s the turnovers, stupid.
The Spurs tied a Finals record by committing just four turnovers and were able to win Game 1. Since that time, they’ve coughed the ball up 49 times in the past three games and that, more than anybody’s attitude or horoscope reading is why the Heat have been able to tie it up at 2-2.
“For us it’s been the same during the entire season,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “Oftentimes or most of the time, the great majority of the time, it’s about turnovers. It’s about not taking care of the basketball. Because it’s not just that you gave them another possession. But people forget you lost your possession. You might have scored one, two or three points, or four, I guess in rare situations. But you didn’t score and the other team oftentimes especially the better the team you play, like Miami, you turn it over and they’re going to score. It’s basically a dunk or a layup at the other end of the court.
“So it’s always a swing of four points, at least. And that’s what really takes its toll. That’s why we were so happy after Game 1 when we just had four turnovers. Since then we’ve been plagued. Largely due to their outstanding defense. “
It’s the style the Heat have adopted and established as a snarling, hungry pack of attack dogs that can go for the throat at any time, creating havoc, making steals, getting the ball into the open court where James and Wade are virtually unstoppable. When the Spurs treated the ball as tenderly as a newborn baby in the series opener, they stifled Miami. Their Game 3 win was simply a product of making a Finals record-tying 16 3-pointers and that is not something San Antonio can count on happening again. The Heat just want to sink their teeth in and draw blood.
“Our focus has been getting to our identity, which is an aggressive, disruptive defensive team,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. “And you’re trying to do it against the best passing precision execution team in the league. Who gets to who more often? Sometimes the margin for error is a centimeter difference of our activity and their precision.”
So forget about the intricate Xs and Os. Never mind with the advanced metrics.
Just keep your eye on the ball and whether the Spurs can hang onto it. Nothing complicated here. It’s about the turnovers.