SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs are a remarkable 34-for-68 from beyond the arc in the last three games. But the number that stands out more is 16. That’s how many 3-point attempts they took in losing Game 4, which equaled the number they made in winning Game 3.
Attempting 16 shots from 3-point range isn’t enough for a team that averaged 21.0 in the regular season and can bury an opponent with an avalanche of 3-balls.
“They have a great defense, you have to give them credit,” Spurs point guard Tony Parker said of the Miami Heat’s ability to close-out on 3-point shooters and take away shots. “We just have to play better.”
Tonight’s Game 5 (8 ET, ABC) is critical for both teams. But it could mean do-or-die for the Spurs, who will have to play Games 6 and, if necessary, 7 on the road. The Spurs know they can squeak out a win if the 3-pointer isn’t falling — they took Game 1 in Miami going 7-for-23 thanks largely to just four turnovers — but they’re far more deadly when the long ball is falling and the home crowd reaches a fever pitch.
A key tonight is how well San Antonio moves the basketball, keeps Miami’s trapping defense scrambling, avoids turnovers and creates those open looks for its 3-point shooters. In the two games San Antonio has won, it has committed 17 total turnovers. In the two losses, the number is 36.
“We need to be efficient just with our execution more than anything,” said Danny Green, who is 19-for-28 (67.9 percent) from beyond the arc in the series. “It would be nice to make shots, but if we execute defensively and offensively, move the ball and continue to run our sets the way we’re supposed to and not turn it over, it will give us a better chance.”
Other items of note:
- Parker said he has received virtually round-the-clock treatment on his ailing right hamstring. “I feel pretty good,” he said. “Hopefully I can play two halves at the same level.” Parker scored 15 points in the first half of Game 4, but went scoreless in the second half and played just three minutes in the fourth quarter. He described his hamstring as feeling “weak” in the second half.
- Spurs forward Tiago Splitter has had a forgettable series to this point, averaging 5.8 ppg and an anemic 2.8 rpg in 21.3 mpg. He’s gone from shooting better than 63 percent in both the second round and conference final to 38.1 percent against Miami, an awful percentage for any player, but especially one who spends most of his time around the basket. That’s also where he’s been rejected more than once. There was the LeBron James stopper at the rim in Game 2 and Splitter embarrassingly found himself getting blocked by Dwyane Wade and Shane Battier in Game 4. “Miami’s had a lot to do with that,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They’ve done a good job on him and he hasn’t been able to finish. He’s done what he always does, but he hasn’t finished the same and it’s because of Miami’s defense.”
- Heat coach Erik Spoelstra shook up his starting lineup for Game 4 going with shooter Mike Miller over rugged forward Udonis Haslem. Will Popovich follow suit? Splitter’s weak play in Game 4 led to him logging just 14 minutes, his second-lowest mark of the playoffs, and to taking a seat to start the second half. Boris Diaw got the call, but Popovich said Sunday morning that he as of now he plans to stick with his usual starting five. However, he did leave himself some wiggle room: “That could change.”