- Heat vs. Spurs: Series Hub
SAN ANTONIO — Not only did the Miami Heat change their starting lineup in Game 4 of The Finals, but they played small (with only one big man on the floor) for the full 48 minutes. The result was a 16-point victory.
Over the course of the series, the numbers make it clear that the Heat have been better, particularly on offense, when they’ve played small.
Heat pace and efficiency, 2013 Finals
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
The Spurs’ big lineups have played better (+2.0 points per 100 possessions) than their small lineups (-13.8), but that discrepancy is less than half that of the Heat’s. So you could say that the series has been determined more by what kind of lineup Miami has played than by what kind San Antonio has played. The Heat’s offensive advantages when playing small are obvious. The extra shooter either makes defenses pay for paying extra attention to LeBron James, or gives James more space to operate.
So, is staying small the key to winning two more games? Not according to Dwyane Wade, who said that the lineup change “had no big impact” on the Heat’s performance in Game 4.
“I don’t think that had anything to do with the reason we played better,” Wade said before the Heat practiced on Saturday. “I think we just played better, for one, because there was some … if we lose that game, it’s trouble. We might not make it back to Miami. So in a sense, we had a little nervousness in us. We played with that nervous energy. And we did what we normally do. We respond where we need to.
“So I think we were going to play a better game, not matter who is on the floor.”
Whether they’re playing big or small, Wade believes it’s about the Heat’s mentality. We saw Thursday how good they can be when the Heat’s Big Three play active and aggressive on both ends of the floor. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday that the team’s last few wins have come when James, Wade and Chris Bosh “had our three highest defensive grades, the way we chart it.”
The problem, of course, is that the Heat have only had that nervous energy – or urgency, if you will – in games following a loss. And to win two straight championships, they’re going to have to win two straight games.
That could happen in Games 6 and 7 back in Miami if the Spurs win Game 5 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), but James believes the time is now.
“I think it’s time,” James said. “I think we’re well overdue when it’s time for us to win consecutive games. I think we’re at 11 or 12 straight consecutive win loss, win loss, win loss. I think it’s time. Enough is enough for our team. I’m not saying it’s going to result in us having a win, but we need to play with the same sense of urgency as if we were down 2-1 or whatever the case may be tomorrow night. And we can’t wait around.”