By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com
SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs plan to get a grip.
On the basketball.
The league’s best passing team is well-known for its precision, but it was their imprecision that nearly cost them Game 1 on their home floor. The Spurs committed 23 turnovers, many on poor passes that were picked off. That the Heat managed just 28 points off those turnovers was fortunate. Even then, the Spurs needed a night in which they shot nearly 60 percent from the floor, went 14-for-16 in the fourth quarter and broke the game open with LeBron James on the bench for the final four minutes, short-circuited by leg cramps.
That Miami had 18 turnovers of their own that the Spurs converted into 27 points played a significant role in minimizing San Antonio’s miscues.
“My guess is you won’t see that [Sunday] night, turnover‑wise,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I don’t think either one of us will turn it over as much as we did. In that regard we were both pretty sloppy.”
The Spurs know if they do, they’ll likely be heading to Miami for two games with this series all knotted up.
“I think the key for us is do the first easy pass, don’t try to invent something, just play our game,” said point guard Tony Parker, who had four turnovers in Game. 1. “We need to have the pace and we know Miami is a great defensive team and they have a great rotation. They’re fast, but if we do the first easy pass and move the ball at the end, you know, I think we will get good shots.
“If we try to force it too much against that team, it’s very dangerous, because then it’s fastbreaks and they get confidence and get easy baskets.”
The 23 turnovers amounted to the Spurs’ second-highest total of the season. They had 24 in Game 2 of the first round against Dallas and that outcome was more befitting such sloppy play, a 113-92 loss at home.
The Heat is at their best when they’re trapping hard on the perimeter, crashing passing lanes, deflecting passes and making steals. They haven’t been as proficient this season as in the past, but feeding that beast is typically a recipe for disaster.
“We escaped,” is how Popovich described the Game 1 win.
They’d prefer not to rely on a Houdini act in Game 2.