Posts Tagged ‘Gary Neal’

Got Shooting? It’s Going Fast

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The 2012-13 season shall forever be known as the year of the three. There were 3-point records set on the individual, team and league levels. And Ray Allen‘s 3-pointer to tie Game 6 of The Finals will go down as one of the biggest shots in NBA history.

Furthermore, there was a much stronger correlation between offensive efficiency and the percentage of a team’s shots from 3-point range than we’d seen previously. With one notable exception — the Denver Nuggets — the best offenses in the league shot a lot of threes, or at least shot them very well.

Top 10 offenses, 2012-13

Team OffRtg 3PM 3PA 3PT% Rank 3PA% Rank
Miami 110.3 717 1,809 39.6% 2 28.5% 5
Oklahoma City 110.2 598 1,588 37.7% 3 24.4% 12
New York 108.6 891 2,371 37.6% 5 35.4% 1
L.A. Clippers 107.7 627 1,752 35.8% 16 26.5% 8
Denver 107.6 521 1,518 34.3% 25 21.7% 22
Houston 106.7 867 2,369 36.6% 9 34.9% 2
San Antonio 105.9 663 1,764 37.6% 4 26.4% 9
L.A. Lakers 105.6 715 2,015 35.5% 19 30.3% 3
Brooklyn 105.0 628 1,760 35.7% 17 26.9% 7
Golden State 104.2 658 1,632 40.3% 1 23.9% 14

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
3PA% = Percentage of total shots from 3-point range

The Nuggets were upset in the first round when they couldn’t make 3-pointers and, more importantly, couldn’t stop the Warriors from making them. And now, Denver is without the three guys who made the most 3-pointers for them last season. Danilo Gallinari (135) is recovering from ACL surgery, Corey Brewer (91) is a free agent (who could come back), and Andre Iguodala (91) is heading to Golden State.

There’s a lot more to success in this league, but if you want to compete for a championship, you need guys who can knock down long-distance shots. There were several available on the market and a handful of good teams that needed them to take the next step. A couple of those teams will be signing a couple of those shooters. Here’s a look at the contending teams that needed shooting the most and what they’ve done to address the problem…

Chicago Bulls

OffRtg: 100.4 (24), 3PT%: 35.3% (21), 3PA%: 18.9% (29)
The Bulls’ offense will obviously be better with the return of Derrick Rose, but they still need better perimeter shooting to complement their penetrating point guard. They ranked fourth in 3-point percentage in 2011-12, but then said goodbye to Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson.

They’re heading back in the right direction this summer, upgrading from Marco Belinelli (35.7 percent) to Mike Dunleavy (42.8 percent), who ranked third in 3-point percentage among the 57 free agents who attempted at least 100 threes last season. There are few players in the league better than Dunleavy at coming off pin-down screens and draining threes on the wings.

Jimmy Butler should also be a more dangerous shooter, especially with Rose coming back. After shooting just 1.3 threes per game at 38 percent in the regular season, Butler shot 3.1 per game at 41 percent in the playoffs. No. 20 pick Tony Snell is known as a shooter, but hit just 64 threes in 35 games at New Mexico last season.

The Bulls haven’t exactly turned into last year’s Knicks when it comes to shooting threes, but they have taken a step forward.

Denver Nuggets

OffRtg: 107.6 (5), 3PT%: 34.3% (25), 3PA%: 21.7% (22)
The Nuggets took a big step backward by losing Iguodala and trading Kosta Koufos to Memphis. And we don’t know if they’ll play the same fast-paced, attacking style under coach Brian Shaw that they did under coach George Karl.

But Denver will get one of the better shooters on the market by sending Iguodala out via a three-team, sign-and-trade deal with the Warriors and Jazz that brings them Randy Foye, who ranked second among free agents with 178 threes last season and shot them at a 41.0 percent clip. Foye will likely split time at shooting guard with Evan Fournier, who shot a solid 22-for-54 (41 percent) in limited regular season action last season (and went 0-for-8 in the playoffs).

The Nuggets will also have a full season of Wilson Chandler, who shot well after returning from injury last season. Denver’s defense will most certainly fall off without Iguodala, but the Nuggets might actually have a little more inside-out balance to their offense.

Indiana Pacers

OffRtg: 101.6 (19), 3PT%: 34.7% (22), 3PA%: 24.5% (11)
Like the Nuggets, the Pacers thrive in the paint (just not as well). And the No. 1 defense in the league helped them make up for their lack of shooting. But they could have used a few more weak-side threes against the Heat’s aggressive defense in the conference finals, when Lance Stephenson shot 7-for-23 (30 percent) from beyond the arc.

Over his last six full seasons, Danny Granger hit 901 threes at 39 percent. And with Granger set to return from the knee injury that kept him out of all but five games last season, returning team president Larry Bird didn’t have to do a thing to improve his team’s 3-point shooting.

But Bird went out and got Watson (41 percent last season) and Chris Copeland (42 percent) to give his team some more punch off the bench. No. 22 pick Solomon Hill was also decent shooter (39 percent on threes) at Arizona. He might not play much as a rookie, but he can’t be a worse from the perimeter than defensive specialist Sam Young was.

Last season, Frank Vogel only had D.J. Augustin — a defensive liability — to turn to when he needed more shooting on the floor. Now, he’s got plenty of options.

Memphis Grizzlies

OffRtg: 101.7 (18), 3PT%: 34.5% (24), 3PA%: 16.6% (30)
The Rudy Gay trade didn’t change much for the Grizz, who made a league-low 4.6 threes per game after the deal. And they have yet to do anything in free agency to improve their perimeter offense. Tony Allen, returning on a new contract, is the definitive shooting guard who can’t shoot. Even their top draft pick — Jamaal Franklin — is a wing who doesn’t shoot very well.

The Grizzlies still have their mid-level exception to spend. And there are a couple of shooters still left on the market (see below). They also have a trade exception worth almost $7.5 million to absorb a contract from a team willing to deal them a shooter. But right now, they look like they could rank last in the league in 3-pointers for a second straight season.

Still on the market

For the Grizzlies and other teams still looking for shooters, the pickings are rather slim. Here are their six best options (in order of how many threes they hit last season), all of which come with issues …

Nate Robinson — 141-for-348 (40.5 percent)
Robinson had his best shooting season with the Bulls. And though he was mostly the Bulls’ back-up point guard, 101 of his 141 threes were assisted, so he can certainly play off the ball. He has improved defensively and is certainly making better decisions than he was earlier in his career, but it still isn’t easy for a coach to trust him with the ball in his hands for big minutes.

Wayne Ellington — 94-for-240 (39.2 percent)
Of the free agents that are still available, only three — Brandon Jennings (173), Robinson and Alan Anderson (95) — hit more threes than Ellington did last season. He was a decent role player in Memphis before it sent him to Cleveland for financial flexibility.

Gary Neal — 89-for-251 (35.5 percent)
Neal hit six threes in Game 3 of The Finals, but shot just 35 percent from beyond the arc last season (31st among the 57 free agents who attempted at least 100 threes) after shooting 42 percent in his first two years with the Spurs, who have seemingly swapped him for Belinelli. (They didn’t have an Italian on their roster, after all.)

Roger Mason Jr. — 66-for-159 (41.5 percent)
Of the 57 free agents who attempted at least 100 threes last season, only 11 shot them better than 40 percent. And only two — Robinson and the Pelicans’ Mason Jr. — are still on the market. Mason doesn’t do much more than make threes, but you can do worse if you need a fifth guard on your roster.

Mo Williams — 59-for-154 (38.3 percent)
Jazz starting guard Williams can handle the ball or play off it. In his two seasons playing next to LeBron James, he shot 43 percent from 3-point range, and only two players — Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen — hit more threes than Williams did over those two years. But he played a career-low 46 games last season and defense is an issue.

Anthony Morrow — 16-for-43 (37.2 percent)
There was a point a few years ago when Morrow qualified as the best 3-point shooter in NBA history. He’s still a great shooter, but doesn’t have as quick a release as some others, struggles when he needs to put the ball on the floor, and is a defensive liability. He couldn’t get off the bench for the Mavs as they were making their playoff push last season.

Three more points

  • The Timberwolves were by far the worst 3-point shooting team in the league last season, but should move up the rankings with a healthy Kevin Love (who shot 22 percent), a healthy Chase Budinger (who shot 32 percent) and with the addition of Kevin Martin (who shot 43 percent for OKC). Martin’s presence will also mean that they’ll need less minutes from Alexey Shved and Luke Ridnour (who may be traded) at the two. The pair combined to attempt 500 threes last season, connecting on only 30 percent of them.
  • Brooklyn shot a lot of threes last season, but didn’t shoot them particularly well. Things will get better with Paul Pierce (38 percent) replacing Gerald Wallace (28 percent) at small forward. But Watson (41 percent) was their best 3-point shooter last season and he’s been replaced by Shaun Livingston, who has made a grand total of nine threes in 390 career games. Assuming that coach Jason Kidd will have one of his starters — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson or Pierce — playing with the second unit, a back-up point guard who can shoot (Toney Douglas, perhaps?) would have been a better option. Either way, the Nets’ success could be determined by the ability of Bojan Bogdanovic and Mirza Teletovic to knock down shots and keep Pierce and Kevin Garnett fresh.
  • The Clippers were another team that shot a lot of threes at a mediocre percentage. And while they’re getting two great shooters in Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick, they’re replacing two guys — Caron Butler (39 percent) and Willie Green (43 percent) — who shot rather well from 3-point range last season. (Green is still on the roster, but likely out of the rotation.)

Restricted Free Agents Pekovic, Jennings, Teague (And Others) Wait Their Turns

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The oxymorons of the NBA offseason – restricted-yet-free agents – yielded most of the spotlight to the bigger and freer names through the first week of July or so. But with fellows such as Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala and more reaching agreements on new deals, those tethered to their incumbent teams will get more run now.

It’s not exactly garbage time. Last summer, nine of the top RFAsRoy Hibbert, Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson, George Hill, Nicolas Batum, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields – landed deals worth a total of $366.4 million. On a per-season basis, their salaries over three to five years averaged $10.8 million.

That’s not far from where this year’s RFA market sat after its two highest-profile commitments: Tyreke Evans to New Orleans’ four-year, $44 million offer sheet and Tiago Splitter four years and $36 million to stick with San Antonio. But that’s a small sample size, with the likes of Nikola Pekovic, Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague, Gerald Henderson, Timofey Mozgov and several others still with business pending.

The dynamics of restricted free agency clearly are different from those in play for the truly free. The chilling effect that an incumbent team can have on its guy’s options is considerable, simply by pointing out to one and all its intention to match any offer. And yet, a team that expresses too much love can drive up an RFA’s price, leading rivals to touch up their offer sheets in the hopes that overpaying might pry him loose.

There are other risks. Teague, for instance, was said to be growing impatient in recent days, frustrated by what might be perceived as the Atlanta Hawks’ lack of urgency in pursuing a deal, when all it really is is Atlanta letting the market play out. There really should be no harm in that, unless the guy’s feelings get hurt at what he mistakes as an absence of pro-active negotiations.

The three-day period incumbent teams get to match or not on RFAs doesn’t stymie a club’s offseason strategy quite the way the old seven-day decision period used to. But it still can hang up a team to have cap space committed, at precisely the wrong time, to an offer sheet that goes nowhere.

Fans get antsy with restricted free-agency, too, waiting for updates on players who often loom large in their current teams’ plans. Yet there they sit “on the market” longer than seems comfortable. (We’re talking days, not weeks, but everyone’s shelf life/attention span is sped up these days.)

Oh, and woe to the players who try to assist the process by professing love for a new market — as Gordon and Batum did last summer — or some disdain for an old one, thinking that might tilt the process and short-circuit the “restricted” label in front of their status. That rarely, if ever, changes a team’s business decision, but it does risk bad blood while accomplishing nothing positive.

So it probably is a good thing that Pekovic, Jennings, Teague and the rest — and their representatives and their teams — have mostly stayed mum to this point. They’ll get theirs sooner or later, almost certainly in the next week or two.

And even if they don’t, the option of playing for one year on a qualifying offer, with its no-trade provision, wouldn’t seem to be the worst thing. That would turn a 2013 RFA into a 2014 UFA, with a heavy list of teams looking to rebuild, improve their draft chances, shed salaries and open cap space.

The buzz around some RFAs, however, is beginning. Minnesota apparently tried to pre-empt any head-turning overtures from outside teams, putting together a formal offer to Pekovic on Friday, according to Timberwolves beat writer Jerry Zgoda:

As of Sunday, he is not believed to have been offered [a competing] deal and the number of teams who have the cap space and desire to sign him had dwindled to one or two.

Pekovic repeatedly last season said he wanted to return to Minnesota, and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders has said all along that he believes the two sides will reach a deal.

The price might rise to $11 million to $12 million per year for four years, insiders have estimated. Specifics of the Wolves’ offer weren’t known.

Then there was the prospect of Jennings and Teague having their negotiations settled almost in an old-fashioned, non-free agent way: If the two point guards were signed and traded for each other, would it even seem like they were free agents?

That’s a scenario reported by ESPN.com’s Mark Stein, driven at least in part by former Hawks coach Larry Drew’s familiarity with Teague. Such a move, coincidentally, could have a ripple effect on Jennings’ backcourt mate in Milwaukee, Monta Ellis, who opted-out of an $11 million salary for 2013-14 in hopes of doing better, longer, in a multi-year deal.

ESPN.com reported early in free agency that the Bucks, at Drew’s behest, had interest.

If those sign-and-trade talks progress to the serious stage, sources said, Atlanta would inevitably have to rescind its long-standing interest in Ellis, knowing he and Jennings realistically couldn’t play together again given how poorly they functioned as a backcourt duo in Milwaukee last season.

As for other notable RFAs, Charlotte’s Henderson is a solid two-way player who likely will be affordable, Denver’s Mozgov might wind up with Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia on a four-year offer and Gary Neal may have gotten bumped off San Antonio’s depth chart with the Spurs’ signing of veteran Marco Belinelli.

Report: Spurs Bring In Belinelli

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The San Antonio Spurs have added yet another 3-point shooter to their arsenal, agreeing to a two-year deal with Marco Belinelli, according to reports.

Yahoo! Sports reports the deal is worth $6 million.

So the team with more international players than any other adds the Italian Belinelli, who averaged 9.6 ppg and made 35.7 percent of his 3-point attempts last season playing for the Chicago Bulls. The 6-foot-5 Belinelli will begin his seventh NBA season with his fifth team.

The Spurs already have agreed to terms with restricted free-agent center Tiago Splitter on a four-year, $36 million deal and on a two-year, $14 million deal to keep 35-year-old Manu Ginobili. With Danny Green under contract, the odd man out might be restricted free agent Gary Neal. Neal had an up-and-down season and lost minutes to Cory Joseph, but Neal could be in line to cash in on a more lucrative deal elsewhere after his performance off the bench in The Finals against the Miami Heat.

The Spurs made a qualifying offer to the restricted free agent, but by agreeing to a deal with Belinelli, 27, it could signal that San Antonio believes Neal will receive an offer from another team that they are unwilling to match. Neal, 28, played the last three seasons with the Spurs, who plucked the all-time leading scorer at Towson University out of Europe.

Belinelli gives the Spurs additional size on the perimeter and is a 38.7 percent career shooter from beyond the arc. Last season was his first shooting below 37.7 percent from deep. He averaged 11.1 ppg and 2.6 apg during the Bulls’ gutsy playoff run that ended in the second round to the Heat.

Legacies Truly On The Line In Game 7





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A champion will be crowned after the dust has settled on tonight’s winner-take-all Game 7 of The Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Legacies also are on the line for the coaches and main players on both sides. Heat star and four-time MVP LeBron James might have the most riding on the outcome of this game, but he’s certainly not the only one with a reputation to continue building.

The basics:
Game 7 tips off Thursday night at 9 ET on ABC.

The Heat have plenty of numbers on their side, courtesy of home-court advantage. The home team is 14-3 in Games 7s in Finals history, the last road team to win was Washington over Seattle in 1978. They need whatever they can get after coming within seconds of not even making it to a Game 7, trailing by five points with 28 seconds to play in regulation of Game 6 before Ray Allen forced overtime with a clutch 3-pointer from the corner. The Heat are trying to repeat as champions, becoming the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers did it in 2009 and 2010. That 2010 title was secured with a Game 7 win over Allen and the Boston Celtics at Staples Center.

The Spurs are attempting to become just the fourth team to win a Finals Game 7 on the road. And they’ll have to shake off the stench of blowing their chance to capture the Larry O’Brien trophy in Game 6. The trophy was being wheeled out to the court for the championship ceremony as the Spurs fumbled away their lead in the final seconds. The Spurs are chasing title No. 5, for Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, No. 4 for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. So they are playing the legacy game, too.

The Heat haven’t won back-to-back games since the end of the conference semifinals and Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, while the Spurs haven’t lost back-to-back games with their Big 3 in the lineup since December. Something has to give tonight.

The narrative:
James, headband free, had to dig down in his deep reserves to find the energy to change the tempo in Game 6 and the put the Heat in a position to even have a chance to come back. So what does he have left for Game 7 with so much at stake? It needs to be a lot, because Dwyane Wade is operating on two busted knees and could be limited in Game 7 the way he was in Game 6. Chris Bosh came through with some clutch rebounds and a block at the end of Game 6, but he also has to play much better. The Heat need their Big 3 to show up again the way they did in Game 4, when they combined for 85 points, 30 rebounds, 10 steals, nine assists and five blocks.

Role players from each side have stepped up tremendously throughout the first six games of this series, but Game 7 is about the superstars showing up and assuming their designed roles. If the Spurs get another 30-point, 17-rebound effort out of Duncan and Parker shoots it better than he did in Game 6 and Ginobili cuts his turnovers in half and produces like he did in Game 5, the Spurs’ Big 3 will have done their part.

And that leaves the always important wild card position open for Allen or Mike Miller for the Heat and for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for the Spurs. If any one of those guys goes off the grid and plays out of his mind in this setting, he could swing the momentum of this game in his team’s favor.

The subplots:
Popovich took a beating for his late-game rotations that did not include, for at least a stretch of the fourth quarter, Duncan and Parker on the floor with the Spurs trying to hold a lead. He didn’t take a timeout with seconds to play, allowing Ginobili to dribble the ball up the court at a critical time while Parker sat on the bench. And when the Spurs needed to rebound the ball in those final 28 seconds, Duncan was not on the floor as the Heat scrambled to tie the game. Not that he cares, but all eyes will be on him if things are tight down the stretch.

So much has been made about the Spurs’ mental and emotional recovery from Game 6, which was aided by a late-night,  clear-the-air team dinner and the realization that they have one more chance to finish what they started in Game 6. But what about the emotional recovery for a Heat team that was floored by the reality that they were seconds away from watching a team celebrate a championship on their home floor for the second time in three years? They have to come back to earth after that game as well.

Finally, and perhaps most important, is what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decides to do if Wade clearly doesn’t have the bounce and energy needed to impact the game in the way we’ve seen him do it earlier in this series? The Heat’s fourth-quarter rally in Game 6 came with James attacking the rim with sharpshooters Allen and Miller spreading the floor and the Spurs’ defense out. With Wade on the floor James doesn’t have the same room to operate and the Spurs can pack the lane. Spoelstra might have to make a choice between benching Wade and trying to do the impossible with him on the floor.

Xs and Os:
There will be plenty of opportunities for both coaches to tweak their teams in this game, but only once the action starts. After six games against each other, there are no surprises left. All of the punching and counterpunching we’ve seen — from the altered starting lineups and the insertion of certain role players at ideal times in the series — Game 7 should not come down to a modification from either Popovich or Spoelstra.

This is a game that the players will decide with their energy, effort and execution of the same game plans that have been in place since the start of Game 1.

The Spurs want to play at their pace, keep the Heat off-balance in transition and impose their will inside with Duncan and make sure Parker is attacking and his shooters are in place to take advantage of the inside-out game when the Spurs pick-and-roll game is in a groove.

The Heat want to play at their breakneck pace, with James and Wade in attack mode and the floor spread just enough to keep those driving lanes open and keep the Spurs guessing about where the next strike is coming from. And if Spoelstra is determined to stick with Wade and James on the floor together, one of them has to be prepared to play in the post to keep the floor spaced properly.

Who’s hot?
Allen scored just nine points in Game 6, but all nine of them came in the fourth quarter and overtime, the most critical times in the game for the Heat. Experienced in the clutch, he has more Game 7 minutes on his resume, by far, than anyone else in this game.

He’s been in the Spurs’ shoes before, trying to win a Game 7 on the road, and that experience will serve him and the Heat well in an environment that should be as wild as anything we’ve seen in the NBA this season.

“As a competitor you love it, because you know you have an opportunity and it’s up to you,” Allen said. “We have a chance in our building to make something great. All of our legacies are tied to this moment, this game. It’s something our kids will be able to talk about that they were a part of. Forever will remember these moments, so we want to not live and have any regrets.”

Whatever happened to…
Green went from the favorite to win Finals MVP before Game 6 to a complete non-factor by the end of Game 6. He shot just 1-for-7 from the floor and managed just three points in a game where, as Bosh promised, he did not see as many open looks as he had previously.

If the Spurs are moving the ball well to make space for their shooters, Green’s opportunities should increase dramatically in Game 7. And that should allow him to add to his already impressive Finals record for 3-pointers made.

Bottom line:

Throw out the trends of this series and the teams alternating wins and neither one of them being able to come up with back-to-back exemplary performances, and strap yourself in for what should be a wild 48-minute (or more) ride with two heavyweight contenders swinging until one of them drops.

“You know what, it’s all about just winning the title. It’s not about situation or what has led up to it,” Duncan said. “It’s a great story for everybody else, but we’re here for one reason, one reason only: It’s to try to win this game. We have had a very good season thus far, and I think we just want to get to the game more than anything. We just want to see what happens and be able to leave everything out there.”

Right & Wrong: 28 Seconds Of Failure

 

Five points and 28 seconds. It’s all that stood between the San Antonio Spurs and a stunning fifth championship.

Five points and 28 seconds to knock out hero-turned-goat-turned-hero again LeBron James and the Miami Heat on their home floor.

Five points and 28 seconds to immortality for Tim Duncan, who had delivered a masterful Game 6.

Five points and 28 seconds the Spurs might never live down.

San Antonio led 94-89 with 28.2 seconds left and it could have been a six-point bulge had Manu Ginobili not missed the front end of two free throws. From there the Spurs collapsed. Kawhi Leonard missed a free throw with 19.4 seconds left that could have been the clincher. The unflappable coach Gregg Popovich will reflect on some questionable strategic calls in the crunch, such as twice removing Duncan on Heat possessions. And twice, the Heat took advantage with offensive rebounds that led to 3-pointers, first from James to slice the deficit to 94-92 with 20.1 seconds left and then from Ray Allen with 5.2 seconds to go to force overtime.

Five points and 28 seconds that could ultimately define the 2013 NBA Finals.

A look at what went right and what went wrong:

Right: His critics ready to pounce, and in this case rightly so, James came through in the clutch with his team hanging onto life by a thread. Through three quarters, James had three field goals and two turnovers. He had missed nine shots and the Heat trailed 75-65, just 12 minutes away from elimination. Then James turned in a phenomenal fourth quarter with 16 points and a tremendous block of Duncan at the rim. However, there were also the three turnovers, two on consecutive possessions in a 12-second span with less than 40 seconds to play. The Spurs went up five, but the now-headband-less James nailed the crucial 3-pointer with 20.1 seconds to go. He ultimately finished with his second triple-double of The Finals.

Wrong: Was Popovich responsible for James and the Heat catching fire to open the third quarter? On the road, up 10 and 12 minutes away from claiming the title, Popovich opted to start the fourth quarter with Parker and Duncan on the bench and a five-man unit of struggling offensive players: Gary Neal, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter. Ninety-four seconds later, the Spurs’ 75-65 lead was 77-73 and Miami charging hard. Popovich quickly summoned Leonard off the bench and then Duncan at the 9:23 mark. Parker sat until the 7:35 mark with San Antonio clinging to an 82-79 lead. With a chance to bury the Heat, Popovich chose to rest his two big guns at the same time, a move that backfired.

Right: Prior to Game 6, Chris Bosh said that Spurs sharpshooter Green wouldn’t find much open space to go off from the 3-point arc, where he had made 25-for-38 in the first five games. When Green got free for a wide-open 3 that he buried in the second quarter, there was plenty of sniping at Bosh in the Twitterverse. He’d get the last laugh as Green wouldn’t make another shot from beyond the arc, finishing 1-for-5 from back there and 1-for-7 overall for three points. Meanwhile, Bosh would grab 11 rebounds, including a huge offensive board in the final seconds of regulation that set up Allen’s game-tying 3-pointer. Bosh also blocked Parker’s jumper with 32.3 seconds left in overtime and then he swatted Green’s desperation corner 3 as the final buzzer sounded.

Wrong: The Spurs’ backcourt failed to come through on both ends. Parker, Ginobili, Neal and Green combined to go 11-for-42 from the floor (26.2 percent) and 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc with 10 turnovers, eight of which were committed by Ginobili. Each made just one 3-pointer and the Spurs’ five from beyond the arc were their fewest of the series. At the other end, Miami point guard Mario Chalmers killed Parker and anyone else guarding him with 20 points. He had 14 points in the first half, which was one more point than Chalmers had managed in the previous three games combined.

Right: Miami shooting guard Mike Miller remarkably recorded his first field goals of the series as a starter. Inserted into the starting lineup for Game 4 after going 9-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first three games, Miller could barely get a shot up as a starter, going 0-for-1 for no points in Games 4 and 5. In Game 6, he hit his first 3-point attempt in the first quarter and finished 2-for-2 from back there and with eight points, seven rebounds and two assists. His biggest contribution was his lone offensive rebound of the game with 22.9 seconds to go in regulation. He split a couple of Spurs and grabbed James’ 3-point miss, got it back out to James on the wing where he nailed his second attempt to cut the Spurs’ lead to 94-92.

Wrong: Manu, Manu, Manu. After his feel-good, 24-point, 10-assist breakout in Game 5, Ginobili reverted to his mostly bumbling ways in this series, low-lighted by eight turnovers, including two critical miscues in overtime. He was horrendous on the offensive end with just nine points and getting of just five shot attempts. He thought he got raked across the arm driving through the lane in the final seconds. No call was made and he could have just as easily been whistled for traveling. The ball popped free and into the arms of Allen, who was fouled and hit the two free throws for the 103-100 lead with 1.9 seconds to go.

Right: The Heat and Allen turned the tables on the Spurs from the 3-point arc, knocking down 11-for-19 while the Spurs went just 5-for-18 — and 18-point differential. Allen, the league’s all-time 3-point leader, has been overshadowed by Green during this series. In Game 5, Green broke Allen’s Finals record for most 3-pointers in a single Finals. Not to be outdone, Allen dropped the game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds to go and saved the Heat from elimination.

Wrong: After Parker hit a 3-pointer and a little dipsy-do shot in the lane and Ginobili made one of two free throws for a 94-89 lead with 28.2 seconds to go, the Heat (un)faithful started filing out of the building. Maybe for a January game against the Bobcats, but just up-and-leaving in Game 6 of the NBA Finals? No matter how dire the situation, this should never occur. In the words of Charles Barkley, “Turrrrrible!”

24-Second Thoughts On Game 6

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24 – So, LeBron James hit the court two hours early to get his pregame work in, huh? That says the man recognizes the magnitude of this moment and has prepared himself properly to man up to it. As ridiculous as it sounds to criticize the four-time MVP and the world’s best player, LeBron knows he has not left his mark on this series. If the Heat go down tonight, it won’t be without a desperate fight from LeBron, which is exactly the way it has to be when you are the best player in the game. Season on the line, you have to show up and set the tone from the start on both ends.

23 – I love that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stuck with Mike Miller in his starting lineup. As much as you need a defender in the game to slow down “Dancin’ “ Danny Green, Manu Ginobili and the Spurs’ other shooters, you need shot-makers on the floor in an elimination games. Miller is aggressive early, which exactly what the Heat need him to be in this situation.

22 – Kawhi Leonard is absolutely fearless. Goes at LeBron on the break, ‘bows him out of the way and finishes with the hoop and the foul. Drains a corner 3-pointer two possessions later. The Spurs are aggressive early, Leonard and Tim Duncan in particular, showing absolutely no hesitation.

21 – Dwyane Wade bangs knees with Ginobili with 7:42 to play and you could see it was a Ginobili’s knee cap smashing the inside of Wade’s left knee. We have to see how bad it was for Wade, who clearly took the worst of the collision. If they win tonight and force a Game 7, how does that blow impact Wade for the finale?

20 – Kawhi “Captain Corn Rows” Leonard just posterized Miller on a sweet feed from Tony Parker. I’m not sure what’s more impressive: Leonard’s eight early points or the fact that he’s the last man in the league still rocking corn rows (and doing it without any fancy designs or anything special; just straight ol’ school, straight-to-the-back corn rows). The 70s are proud of you, young fella! BTW, the Spurs are up two and DDG hasn’t even taken a shot yet.

19 – Duncan is working on a perfect night right now (6-for-6, 12 points and 3 rebounds). I wonder how history will remember Duncan? It certainly seems like we all take him for granted in the present. We don’t appreciate the greatness of his game and fact that he’s more than just the most fundamentally sound power forward to play this game, perhaps ever. He won’t have the flashiest highlight video to look back on in 20 years. But there aren’t but a handful of players who will be able to say they played at an elite level for as long as he did during his Hall of Fame career.

18 – Heat pulling out all the stops tonight; Chris “Birdman” AndersenMario Chalmers and even Shane Battier‘s 3-point bankshot to tie the game. It’s going to be that kind of night, I can feel it. ‘Rio already has 10 points in the first quarter and is 4-for-5 from the floor. If he’s aggressive like this all night, the Spurs are going to have to figure out a way to keep him from duplicating the work he did in Game 2.

17 – Chris Bosh was wrong … DDG is still getting open looks from deep. Still knocking ‘em down, too.

16 – Duncan has 25 before halftime with a hand in his face on every possession. The Spurs are 14-2 in closeout game since 2003 for a reason.  His nickname is The Big Fundamental! He’s 11-for-13 and dominating the Heat in every facet of the game right now. He’s putting on an absolute showcase right now, outscoring Miami’s Big 3 by his lonesome, 25-21. The rest of the Spurs matched his 25 first half points and they lead by six at the break.

15 – The Spurs’ 17-4 run to finish the second quarter might very well be the most impressive stretch by either team in this entire series. Duncan, Boris Diaw, Leonard … unreal effort, unbelievable mettle and just a complete demolition of the Heat on both ends during the run. The Spurs own the Heat inside with a 32-12 scoring edge in the paint in the first half.

14 – Where you at LeBron? Nine points (on 3-for-9 shooting) is not going to get your team to a Game 7.

13 – Third quarter starts without Wade. Ray Allen is out there for him. It has to be that knee. No word from the Heat PR staff until after the game, per Doris Burke’s sideline report.

12 – The Heat’s night in a nutshell to this point: LeBron has Parker guarding him in the low post, Heat swing the ball all around the floor until Bosh gets it on the opposite baseline bricks a jumper off of the far side of the rim. The Heat are completely out of sorts on offense right now. The only thing saving them right now is that they are turning the Spurs over (courtesy of Ginobili, whose Game 5 magic has worn off completely).

11 – Leonard is having the sort of bully-ball game you expected LeBron to have. The Spurs’ 11-0 run here late in the third quarter is one of those backbreaking stretches in a game like this. The Heat’s inability to slow them down is startling. Credit the Spurs for sticking to what they do best, and that’s unleashing all of the weapons in their arsenal to take away what you do best. The Heat are being overwhelmed on their home floor the same way they were in 2011 against the Dallas Mavericks in a Game 6.

10 – Wade is on the bench changing his shoes with 10.3 seconds to play in the third. Maybe he has an extra pair for LeBron, because if they Heat don’t come up with something to change the momentum in this games in the next six minutes, the Spurs are going to break them down the stretch with their execution and claim title No. 5.

9 – “Shoeless” Mike Miller with the 3-point dagger to cut the lead 77-73. Spoelstra imploring his team to “trust each other” at this stage of the season sounds a bit strange. But the message seems to be working. The comeback is officially on, with the Heat’s rally lineup (LeBron, Miller, Allen, Birdman and Chalmers) on the floor. Granted, the Heat’s rush has come with both Duncan and Parker resting on that Spurs bench.

8 –  Bully LeBron has finally come alive and he’s ridiculous force of nature when he plays like this. He’s overpowering Leonard, Duncan, Ginobili and whoever else gets in his way around the rim. Desperate times call for desperate measures, apparently. A block on Duncan under the basket triggers a break the other way and LeBron ties the game at 82-82 with a layup at the 6:37 mark. Allen gives the Heat the lead on a reverse layup with 6:03 to play. Crazy turnaround for the Heat and it’s all been fueled by the man without the headband, who is in full blow attack the rim mode right down the stretch. Heat on a 22-7 run right now and LeBron has 11 points during the run.

7 – Wade comes back for Miller with 3:48 to play, taking away the other long distance shooter (along with Allen) who caused the Spurs so much trouble during the comeback. Those shooters forced the Spurs to cover the perimeter and leave lanes for LeBron to drive to the rim and change the entire flow of the game for both teams. We’ll see if that substitution comes back to bite the Heat in these final minutes.

6 – Duncan and Parker are scoreless in the fourth quarter inside the final dos minutos of the biggest game, so far, of the Spurs’ season. How they are within three points is beyond me. It’s a testament to the system and all of the cold-blooded role players on that roster.

5 – Parker with the step-back 3-pointer over LeBron to tie the game with 1:27 to play erases all doubts. He’s going to snag his second Finals MVP trophy if the Spurs win this thing. Huge turnover by Chalmers and Parker converts on the other end, shades of Game 1 dancing through the building, Spurs up 91-89 with 58 seconds left. This is nuts.

4 – LeBron turnover under the basket, Spurs on the break and Ginobili is fouled with 37.2 left. Sinks both free throws and a 93-89 Spurs lead. Unreal. Another LeBron turnover and Ginobili is fouled again and drains the second of two free throws. 94-89 with 28.2 left. LeBron goes from the goat to the hero and now back to the goat in the final seconds. I say that Wade-for-Miller substitution changed the flow for the Heat. Could very well cost them this game.

3 – LeBron bricks a 3-pointer and gets the ball back after a wild scramble and drains the 3-pointer that cuts the lead to 94-92 with 20.1 to play. Money time for both teams here and Duncan is not on the floor (gotta have your best rebounder on the floor, Pop! I don’t care what is going on …). Leonard misses the first of two free throws but sinks the second with 19.4 to play. Oooohhhhhh!!!!!!! Allen drains the corner 3 to tie it up with 5.2 to play. Winning time, with LeBron on Parker and TP air balls the  last shot of regulation. Unreal finish to the first 48 minutes. Allen might not have the Finals 3-point record anymore, but it was his shot that keep this game alive. Five more minutes of what has turned out to be the best game of the entire season. I’ll take it.

2 – Overtime is like a mini-movie of the entire series in five minutes, complete with turnovers, big shots, clutch rebounds, timely blocks, stunning mistakes, star turns from everyone from Duncan, Parker and Leonard to James, Wade and Bosh, whose work rebounding and on defense help propel the Heat to a Game 7.

1 – Fitting end to a fantastic game. Allen knocks down two free throws for the winning margin and Bosh comes up with the clutch block on DDG at the buzzer. All those Heat fans booing Bosh earlier in this game can thank their lucky stars they had him tonight because he did the dirty work (rebound and kick to Allen was as clutch as the block at the end) down the stretch to help deliver the Heat. Allen with nine points in the fourth quarter and overtime, doing exactly what a future Hall of Famer is supposed to do, helps save the Heat, as well. But if LeBron hadn’t come alive in the fourth the Spurs would be popping bottles in their locker room right now. Game 7 here we come!

jh

24-Second Thoughts On Game 5

24 – Manu Ginobili making Gregg Popovich look like the genius he is by starting him (much the same way Mike Miller made Erik Spoelstra look like a hoops Einstein by starting his veteran shooter in Game 4). Manu’s energy and effort early on will likely set the tone for the Spurs, who need a spark after getting handled the way they did in Game 4. Bald spot or not, Ginobili remains a champion and will show a champion’s heart in this game. Guaranteed.

23 – Tim Duncan and Chris Bosh are absolutely going at it in the post. You have to wonder how this series might have gone for the Heat if Bosh had played like this in Games 1, 2 and or 3 … he doesn’t have to get the better of Duncan. He needs only make Duncan work overtime (they are trying to front him on every offensive possession) for his offensive touches and put the pressure on him to defend Bosh in a similar manner on the other end of the floor.

22 – The Spurs’ balance is ruling the day early. They open a 10-point lead late in the first quarter bolstered by said balance and some great defensive work … make that a 12-point lead after another fantastic stop and scramble that results in a Kawhi Leonard dunk with 60 seconds to play. Their 29-17 lead was really 5-on-3. The only Heat players to score until the final seconds of the quarter were Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Ray Allen scored the Heat’s only other basket

21 – Leonard has been exposed as a no-frills performer, rivaling Duncan for the title of the most boring (in a good way) player in this series. But how anyone can watch this guy work on both ends of the floor and conclude that he’s anything other than a star in the making is beyond me. He’s been spectacular working against LeBron basically the entire series. His 3 from the corner pushes the lead to 32-19 at the end of the first quarter.

20 – Danny Green for 3 … again. Welcome back to The Finals roller coaster folks. This series swings so wildly in one direction or the other on a given night that it’s impossible to get a feel for which team has any real rhythm. I don’t know if that’s a credit to the team that’s hot or an indictment of the team that’s getting torched. Either way, it makes for spectacular viewing. Green has tied Allen’s record for 3-pointers made in The Finals (22), with a shot over Allen, and we’ve got more than six minutes until halftime.

19 – The Spurs have absolutely no one who can cover LeBron in the post consistently, just as the Heat have no one who can cover Duncan in the post consistently. At least no one can single-cover either one of them on a regular basis. If we get another close game it’ll be interesting to see if Popovich or Spoelstra goes there on a final play.

18 – Parker with a sweet drive and finish to wrap up a breakneck first half for both teams. Spurs are shooting a wicked 62 percent in the first half with four of the five starters in double figures already and the fifth (Leonard) has nine. Loving the bounce back on both sides. Pop says it best, “this game is a big boy game.” The fact that both coaches continue to implore their guys to crank up the tempo is perhaps my favorite part of this series. It’s rare that you see teams willing to play to what could be the others strength on purpose. Supreme confidence on both sides. Splendid.

17 – Jay-Z comes up with three minutes of funky stuff, coming July 4, at the end of an instant classic first half that sends Twitter and Facebook into a frenzy.
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Back-And-Forth Finals Sets Up Game 5

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SAN ANTONIO – The games haven’t been close, but the series has gone back and forth. Now, The Finals and the 2012-13 NBA championship is down to a three-game series. And if you say you know what’s going to happen next, you’re lying.

The basics:
Game 5 tips off Sunday night at 8 ET on ABC.

This is the 11th time that The Finals have been tied 2-2 since going to the 2-3-2 format in 1985 (see table below). The winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the title in seven of the previous 10 instances. The home team has won six of those 10 Game 5s and and gone on to close out the series on the road (in Game 6) three of the six times. Each of the four times the road team has won Game 5, they’ve gone on to win the series back at home.

The narrative:
To win two straight championships, the Heat need to win two straight games. But they haven’t done that since the conference semifinals. Since stepping up in competition, they’ve yet to put two championship-caliber performances together.

The inconsistency starts with starters Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers, who have averaged 43.0 points on 50 percent shooting in the Heat’s last six wins and just 34.2 points on 36 percent shooting in their last five losses. But there’s also been a lot more defensive energy in the wins. And for the Heat, stops often turn into better shots on the other end of the floor.

Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) will be in Miami, but LeBron James believes the time is now for the Heat to finally back up a win with another.

The subplots:
When things get tight for the Spurs, Manu Ginobili is often the guy who comes up with big plays. But Ginobili has been out of sorts all series and is shooting 11-for-35 (31 percent) over his last five games, including 3-for-19 (16 percent) from 3-point range. He has more turnovers (13) than buckets in that stretch and has the worst plus-minus (minus-36) in The Finals.

Given the likelihood that their role players aren’t going to shoot as well as they did in Game 3, the Spurs need Ginobili as a secondary playmaker when Tony Parker is both on and off the floor. And if the sixth man doesn’t get out of his funk, the Spurs probably aren’t going to win the series.

The Heat’s ability to get into the paint and to the line will always be critical. They’ve averaged 61.0 points in the paint and at the line in their two wins and 42.5 in their two losses. Their jumpers were also falling in the two wins, but they must play inside-out and not settle for the perimeter shots that the Spurs are often begging them to take.

Xs and Os:
Neither team is going to make any serious tactical adjustments after four games. At this point, assuming that both teams will bring the proper energy for such a crucial game, it comes down to execution. The Spurs want to play like they did in Game 3 and the Heat want to play like they did in Game 4. And it’s really as simple as that.

The Spurs, who have totaled 36 turnovers in their two losses, must first take care of the ball. Getting Tim Duncan some low-post touches would be great, but they can’t force things against the Heat’s denial. On pick-and-rolls, their bigs must create passing lanes for Parker to get them the ball.

Defensively, San Antonio must get back in transition, keep James from getting to the basket, and find Mike Miller and Ray Allen before they get near the 3-point line.

Miami obviously needs to be active and aggressive defensively, force turnovers, and get out on the break. But their weak-side defense is just as important as their strong-side denials and traps, because the Spurs have the shooters to make them pay for double-teams. If their rotations aren’t crisp and organized, Game 5 might look a lot like Game 3.

Who’s hot?
Amazingly, the Heat didn’t need threes from Miller (0-for-1) or Allen (1-for-4) in Game 4. But that doesn’t mean that the Spurs can leave them open. Miller is still a scorching 9-for-11 from beyond the arc in the series, while Allen is 7-for-13. James has assisted on half of their 16 total threes.

Danny Green (19-for-28 on threes) and Gary Neal (12-for-22) continued their hot shooting on Thursday. They’ve been assisted by 10 different teammates on the 31 total threes.

Whatever happened to…
Mario Chalmers? The Heat’s point guard came up huge in their Game 2 win, leading all scorers with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Then he went 0-for-5 in Game 3 and missed his first two shots of Game 4. He did hit two big threes in the third quarter on Thursday and big performances from the big three meant that the Heat didn’t need much production from him, but Game 5 could be different.

If Wade or Bosh can’t put two straight All-Star performances together or if James doesn’t shoot well from the outside, Chalmers will need to step up.

Game 5 results with Finals tied 2-2, since 1985 (winner in CAPS)

Year Away Score Home Score Series result
1985 Boston 111 L.A. LAKERS 120 L.A. in 6
1988 L.A. Lakers 94 DETROIT 104 L.A. in 7
1992 CHICAGO 119 Portland 106 Chicago in 6
1994 Houston 84 NEW YORK 91 Houston in 7
1997 CHICAGO 90 Utah 88 Chicago in 6
2003 SAN ANTONIO 93 New Jersey 83 San Antonio in 6
2005* SAN ANTONIO 96 Detroit 95 San Antonio in 7
2006* Dallas 100 MIAMI 101 Miami in 6
2010 L.A. Lakers 86 BOSTON 92 L.A. in 7
2011 Miami 103 DALLAS 112 Dallas in 6

* Game 5 went to overtime

Right & Wrong: No Stops, No Celebrations

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SAN ANTONIO – Yeah, yeah, yeah, reports of the Big Three’s demise were premature. We get it. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh played up to their hype in Game 4, combining for 85 of the Miami Heat’s 109 points in another 2013 Finals game that can be classified as a blowout.

What wound up as a 16-point outcome, though, was a mere five-pointer with 8:46 left, though. And let’s get something else straight: James hadn’t put the pressure on Miami’s Big Three to come through Thursday night at the AT&T Center, as some revisionist accounts suggest. James had put the burden on himself and, if anything, marginalized Wade and Bosh to the point that they hitched up their big-boy pants in response.

Meanwhile, the series’ other Big Three — Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili — has been marked down to a Not-So-Big Two-Point-Two or so. Ginboli has been the primary drag with his low production, shaky ball handling and non-factoritis. But Duncan (five rebounds in Game 4) and Parker (scoreless second half) are underperforming their reputations too.

RIGHT: No rings, no rebounds, Heat boss Pat Riley famously said. But the Heat are demonstrating the next level of alliteration: No stops, no celebrations. Defense fueled Miami’s series-tying victory. It had 13 steals, seven blocked shots, a 41-38 rebounding edge — and Chris “Birdman” Andersen never played. Wade (6) and Mario Chalmers (4) combined to grab more rebounds than Duncan (5) and Tiago Splitter (3).

WRONG: The Mike Miller-as-starter lineup switcheroo by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t cost his team the game but it didn’t win it either. At best, it might have served as a reminder to the Heat and the world that Miami’s best approach is small ball. San Antonio jumped to a 15-5 lead with Miller bumping Udonis Haslem from the starting lineup and still led 19-14 when he sat down for the first time. Miller’s streak of eight consecutive 3-pointers ended with the added responsibility and he finished the night with no points, one rebound and two assists. (more…)

Game 4: The Impact Plays

SAN ANTONIO – The most important play in a game isn’t always the one you remember most. Sometimes, it’s subtle and doesn’t even make the highlight reel. Sometimes, something as simple as a change in possession can be more important than a shot that does or doesn’t go in.

The NBA has a way to use analytics to figure out just which plays had the biggest impact on a close game. It’s a “leverage” model that was developed to evaluate and instruct referees by pointing out which calls or no-calls had the biggest impact on a game’s result.

Here’s the idea: At every point of a game, each team has a certain probability of winning. Putting the quality of each team to the side, when the game tips off, the home team has a 60 percent probability of winning and the road team has a 40 percent probability of winning. After the first basket, those numbers haven’t changed much. But if the home team is up 10 with the ball and five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, their win probability (WP) is obviously a lot greater than 60 percent.

So, by calculating win probability both before and after a play occurs, it can be determined just how important that play was. Score, possession and location are the factors. And obviously, plays in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter (or overtime) in a close game are more important than any others.

Using the league’s data model, we’ve determined the three most important plays of Game 4 of The Finals, a comfortable 109-93 win for the Miami Heat that evened the series at two games apiece

The Heat didn’t put the game away until they went on a 16-6 run midway through the fourth quarter, but the biggest plays of the night came before that, with the game still in the balance late in the third and early in the fourth.

3. +8.1 percent – Neal drains a 3

 

 

In the midst of scoring on 11 of their final 12 possessions of the third quarter, the Heat had a six point lead and looked to be taking control. But after a LeBron James miss in the post, the Spurs got the ball quickly up the floor. Ray Allen was able to get to Danny Green in the corner, but Green found a trailing Gary Neal, who (of course) didn’t hesitate to jack up a 3 that pulled San Antonio within three with 1:39 left in the period.

The 3 changed the Spurs’ WP from 31.3 percent to 39.4 percent.

2. +8.8 percent – Wade’s and-one

 

 

On the very next possession, the Heat’s first few options were well covered and Dwyane Wade had the ball in the corner. But when James slipped a corner screen, neither Green nor Manu Ginobili stayed with Wade, who drove, drew a foul on Green, and hit a tough bank shot as he was falling to the ground. He then converted the free throw to put the Heat back up six.

The play increased the Heat’s WP from 60.6 percent to 69.4 percent.

1. +12.6 percent – James’ steal leads to Allen’s trey

 

 

Miami’s lead was five in the first minute of the fourth quarter when Ginobili hit a rolling Tiago Splitter in the lane. As Splitter came down with the ball, he tried to kick it to Kawhi Leonard in the corner. But James, who had helped off Leonard, read Splitter’s mind and took the ball right out of his hands.

(James’ defensive anticipation was rather ridiculous all night.)

James raced up the floor, drew four Spurs defenders into the paint and got the ball to Norris Cole in the left corner. Cole was wide open, but spotted Allen on the wing. Leonard closed out on Allen, but a pump fake got him out of the way. Allen drained the 3 (one of only four the Heat made all night) to increase the lead to eight points.

Before James’ steal, the Heat’s WP was 67.6 percent. The change of possession increased it to 72.6 percent (+5.0) and the three made it 80.2 percent (+7.6).