Film Study: Spurs Go Iso In Game 5

SAN ANTONIO — From an Xs and Os standpoint, these Finals were billed as the San Antonio Spurs’ pick-and-roll game vs. the Miami Heat’s traps. Then came Game 5, when the Spurs switched things up and put themselves on the brink of their fifth championship with isolation basketball.

More isolations were not necessarily a part of the Spurs’ game plan. In many ways, the opportunities presented themselves, beginning with when Norris Cole checked into the game.

Cole replaced Mario Chalmers with 4:32 to go in the first quarter. And on four of the Spurs’ next five possessions, Tony Parker went right at him, getting two buckets in the paint and drawing two fouls. Parker again blew by Cole on the final possession of the first half, going about 55 feet in 4.1 seconds …

On that first possession, while his teammates were running a play, Parker just went straight at Cole. On two others, he didn’t bother using Tim Duncan‘s screen, instead backing out so he could get Cole one-on-one. And in the middle, he went straight at Cole in transition.

Both Parker and Cole checked out after that and the play before the half was Parker’s next chance to go at him. It was a matchup that Parker obviously wanted to exploit, and he did it for nine points on five possessions in the first half.

Cole played just 2:21 of non-garbage time in the second half, entering the game when Parker was taking a rest. But Parker found other matchups he liked, taking advantage of the Heat’s switches on pick-and-rolls to attack Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Dwyane Wade and Miller again …

On each of those possessions, Parker was initially guarded by LeBron James. But on pick-and-rolls involving two non-bigs, the Heat were switching. (Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem, conversely, would step out, wait for Parker’s defender to get back to him, and then recover to their own man.)

Switching takes some of the bite out of the Heat’s aggressive defense, keeps that second defender *out of Parker’s vision, and allows him to pick which defender he wants to attack. If the Heat are switching and Miller or Ray Allen is on the floor, it should almost be automatic that their man sets a screen for Parker.

* Go back to the Game 2 Film Study and check the screenshot with Chris Andersen keeping Parker from making a penetrating pass.

Parker led all scorers with 26 points and was a perfect 10-for-10 from within 10 feet of the basket on Sunday (James and Wade were each 5-for-14, by the way). Seven of those buckets came via isolations, another two came when he attacked Miller or Chalmers in transition, and the last came when he went away from the screen against James.

So none of the 10 baskets were a result of Parker going with the screen, which has been the bread and butter of the Spurs’ offense for the last few years. Teams make adjustments in a playoff series, and Parker picked a good time to throw a wrench in the Heat’s defensive game plan.

Manu Ginobili also picked a good time to play his best game of the season, scoring 24 points and dishing out 10 assists. He too did a lot of damage in one-on-one situations …

The Heat will have to rethink their switching scheme for Game 6 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, ABC). They may need to trap all screens (small-big or small-small) to get the ball out of Parker’s hands, force his teammates to make plays, and avoid the one-on-one matchups that he exploited on Sunday.

“They just absolutely outplayed us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after Game 5. “At times, they were just picking one guy out at a time and going mano-a-mano. That will change.”


  1. Mobb says:

    that Popovich dude i real something! man he can see everything and set great tactics

  2. Alex says:

    For those who would say parker is not the best pointguard in the nba… He might not be the most showy, he almost never dunks, but unlike a lot of “superstar” in the game, he has never lost in NBA Final

  3. Boris says:

    6/19/13 Amazing game yesterday. so nice to see the stands almost empty in the 4th quarter. San Antonio truly were amazing.

  4. Lishious says:

    I thought LeBron was supposed to be the one doing that you-cant-guard-me stuff.

  5. Solvar says:

    Everybody guess those finals are exciting it’s about coaching, mental,humility and sweat. Thank you guys,. under all that pressure and adversity you manage to do it again and again .Spurs should take Kobe because only he and TP are Jordan’s legacy they’ve got real killer instinct while everyone else especially the public is stuck. Don’t criticize players, it takes a big heart to play at this level and since some of them are artists the comparison is unfair. Otherwise criticize them with love it’s only Entertainment : Thanks Charles you got Manu back with your speech .

  6. Vinnie Chan says:

    The Spurs just had such a wide array of tactic to attack the Heat didn’t know where to look. Spurs just make so much better use of team play and movement off the ball to get players in position and create mismatch.

  7. the BULLY says:

    Miami should field in at least 8 players on the same time in order to win … 3 to guard pick and rolls 2 to guard TP and another 2 to gguard Danny Greenlights ….if the NBA wont allow this there is no game 7 …..GO SPURS !!!!

  8. Sunny says:

    The Heat team defense is what’s killing their chances,. To stay home on the shooters they are not sending 2ndary defenders on the drives. I feel that it was a mistake trying to put in more offense because it really hampered their defense. I think Spoelstra gets blame for the rotations!

  9. Look out for the Bleh Bleh Bleh says:

    Spurs in 6. They are simply the best playoff team this year.

  10. Sergio says:

    Miami has tried everything on TP. So by now he has pretty much figured out everything Miami is able to throw at him, He’s indeed the best PG in the game right now.

  11. Ryan209 says:

    Theres some low basketball iQs on here lol but he the Birdman keeps him out of the 10ft range he dosent gaurd him but so far him in there does better thin anyone else on that lame Heat id say team but there not that there Babies but i hope Birdman gets on a team who Appreciates him but iReally want Spurs to win not my tean either but im on same page as the rest heat are weak

  12. alien-life-form says:

    luv it when parker waved off khawi for an iso when he ended up with d wade guarding him
    battier flopping on a tony parker drive not called ha ha ha

  13. J says:

    here is what heat should do…………… dont do what u did in that game simple
    heat in 7!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. manzy says:

    Game 6 manu gt off for series killer 15 n 7

  15. mattchew says:


  16. nix says:

    Great coach, the best PG, a great team. They deserve to win it. Give them five. Humble and reliable. Big 3 plus big 3s from Danny Green (how many times he described his achievement as ‘lucky’).

  17. Jorge says:

    I hate the new blackberry z10… could you please play the ad’s just once in a while?

  18. must read says:

    they should have put birdman on parker since game 1. it would have been a sweep. the spurs would have have won the nba championships on their home court.

    • Jack says:

      This is the least informed post I’ve read in ages. Slow big guy who takes bad decisions on one of the fastest and smartest PGs in the league? Yes, it would have been a sweep. Spurs in 4.

    • Jack says:

      My bad. Wrong post.

  19. realist2013 says:

    Silliness. Birdman on Parker. Really? If Lebron cant guard him how on earth is a slow bigman gonna match up to his quickness. Said it before when the heat play true bigmen and elite PG’s they get dismantled. Rondo and Westbrook both showed their vulnerability putting up 40 point games on their defense with no answer. Spurs will keep their composure under pressure and end Miami’s suffering.

    • Jack says:

      Looking forward to the game Duncan dominates. It’s still to come, you know.

      • dj says:

        if danny green keeps doing what he’s doing he’s gonna continue to overshadow everybody. nobody even talks about what gary neal did in game 3 anymore and it was phenomenal

  20. SPURS-TACULAR says:

    It was not only MANO-A-MANO …

    It’s MANU-A-MANU !!!

    2013 CHAMPS = The SPURS

  21. Erik Spo’s mistake in g5 was not putting Birdman on Tony Parker. He would have forced those drives inside the paint back to the post shots taken by Duncan/Splitter forcing more outside attempts by Spurs. Pop realized the switch in Miami’s defense and took full advantage by starting Ginobili…smart.

    • Jack says:

      This is the least informed post I’ve read in ages. Slow big guy who takes bad decisions on one of the fastest and smartest PGs in the league? Yes, it would have been a sweep. Spurs in 4.

  22. digitioli says:

    Agreed Parker got to the hoop almost at will and finished.
    Sweet to watch him do it against everybody they threw at him. They fouled him much more than was called, and he forced the issue. One more win and he keeps his promise to Timmy.
    I think they can do it if the games are called anywhere near fairly – we’ll have to see about that…

  23. Adam says:

    So what you are saying is he is a point guard? Yeah, he is supposed to be able to own anyone 1v1, that’s what PGs do. The Heat played more than half the game without one….TP isn’t any better than CP#, Westbrooke, Rose…I can go on and on…Again, he’s just a PG who isn’t getting D’d up correctly.

    • Jack says:

      PGs are supposed to run the offence. Not “own anyone 1v1”.

      • Kalbo!! says:

        Of course, Heat fans like adam would not accept praises on a player dismantling his team…

    • Alex says:

      A PG doesn’t have to “own” the defense in 1V1… –‘ you’ve probably never played basketball except on your xbox right ? A PG has to run the offense, find the oppening to serve his partners and apply with great focus the coach’s strategy. When a pointguard go 1v1, it is to create an opening in the defense ( for exemple isolation, pick&roll, or simply scoring in the paint, etc ). Besides, parker for his “thin” body, is an awesome finisher. Just try to find a pointguard who can finish anything like he does, they are few, and at his age, he has no contenders.

      Oh, and the best pointguard is the guy who run his team and make them win. That’s why CP3 said many times that TP was the best pointguard in the league ( he also said parker was the guy who inspired his crossover ) . Westbrook entertains, but parker wins. You see the difference ?

  24. SAS says:

    Wanna hear a joke?


    • LBLuv says:

      Greater punch line:

      TP in the FINALS and CP NOT!!!

    • justine says:

      Not this year…

      Maybe CP3 was better. But TP is playing way better this year

      • Kalbo!! says:

        I don’t care who’s the better PG.. CP3 is better individually, alright? But to me, the true better player is the one that takes his team farther…

  25. Mike says:

    Can we please call Tony Parker the best Point Guard in the league now? Smarter than Russell Westbrook. More athletic than Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo. Better scorer than Deron Williams. Better decision-maker than Steph Curry. Only the return of Derrick Rose could challenge Parker’s dominance at PG. Oh, and the Rings. Let’s not forget about those. Any other PG with more rings than Parker? Magic, Isaiah and… and…

  26. Juan Luis Martinez says:

    I think it´s matter of attitude and MIA will defeat SAS at home in MIA, they are all defenses as a team, we all want a 7th game to decide the Champ, One game at the time.

  27. Max says:

    My comments were not acceptable in the last article, sorry. Heat has to change defense. is this OK?

  28. Willy Spurd says:

    TP beat everybody today! Beat up on Cole, what did he say to him after that one big burn when he drove by him? I would love to hear what he said. I feel for Sponge Bob, but he is no match for TP. Then TP beat up on Chalmers, then Miller, then Wade, then he even beat Lebrain to the basket. Unreal effort and performance. Do not under estimate the quiet humble French man, he is a killer. First team NBA, snubbed, runner up MVP to Lebrain, if he loses the series finals ok, but if he wins? They should wait until the end of the year to give the MVP trophy.