So, after winning 27 games in a row during the regular season, did you ever think that Miami would go 8 games in the playoffs without being able to win two in a row? That's a span of over 3 weeks!
Conversely, the Spurs have won their last 7 games in a row in the playoffs.
What have we learned from game 1?
Tony Parker is the master of non-fundamental shots
For our younger readers, learning the basics of the game - look away!
The wrong-footed lay-up & jump shot:
Right hand shot jumping off the right foot?
The Spin cycle:
So dizzyingly amazing was this move that LeBron James, known on occasion to come from the weak side and block even the likes of 7'2" Roy Hibbert, had to stand and watch:
The clutch shooting form:With one of the best defenders in the league closing out on you, make sure you get down low.
Tim Duncan was the best player on the floor
For the 2nd quarter at least.
He had 12 point in the quarter on 5-7 shooting.
And how critical was that 2nd quarter? With 8 minuted to go in the half the Heat were up 38-29, on the verge, with Duncan on the bench with two fouls. After subbing Duncan back in the Spurs go on an immediate 7-0 run to cut the lead to two.
He also had four rebounds and two blocks in the quarter.
You could argue his numbers in the second were more important than Parker's in the 4th.
Danny Green will make open three pointers, even clutch ones
3 for 5 from three in the first half.
He finished 4 for 9 from three (all of his shots) for the game - including one with 2 minutes to go that put the Spurs up seven. Not bad for a role player playing in his first NBA Finals game on the road (reminiscent of Battier last year?)
Ray Allen has found his shooting touch
First 15 games these playoffs: 46-123 from the field (38%), 24-69 from three (35%)
More specifically, first 6 game against Pacers: 13-46 from the field (28%), 7-24 from three (29%)
Last two games: 6-10 from the field (60%), 6-9 from three (67%).
What a basketball travesty is:
Having the best player in the world, stand in the corner on offense in the 4th quarter as a spectator. And this happened on more than one occasion.
Similarly, having the best player in the world feed the post on offense, in the 4th quarter.
Chris Bosh is a good mid-range jump shooter:
But maybe not a three point shooter.
6-12 from inside the three.
0-4 from three.
The good news???
For the Spurs:
They were out-rebounded 46-37.
They shot only 30% from three (7-23) & 42% overall
And they still won on the road.
For the Heat:
The Spurs tied a record for fewest turnovers in a Finals game (4).
LeBron scored only 18 points.
LeBron/Wade/Bosh combined for 8 points in the 4th
And they only lost by 4, with Parker needing to hit a crazy shot to seal the deal.
For the Spurs
Why make adjustments? You played the the game plan to perfection:
1) Take care of the ball
2) Have your two best players dominate the end of each half
3) 5 players in double figures, with solid play from role players (Leonard: 10 points, 10 rebounds)
4) Turn LeBron james into Magic Johnson (more on this below).
For the Heat
1) Keep Chris Bosh in the mid-range/paint area
For many reasons. It's obvious the Spurs are going to clog up the paint and double LeBron when gets there. If LeBron wants to pass out of a double team that's fine.
But look at this play with a minute to go in the 4th:
Duncan left Bosh to prevent LeBron from getting to the rim. But look how open that leaves the paint, with only Ginobili form the weak side and Green on the strong side to protect the rim if need be. I think the Spurs will live with Bosh shooting threes. But if Bosh situates himself in the paint (or cuts to the basket) he has a lay-up off this double team or a good chance for an offensive rebound/lay-up on a LeBron miss. And if Green slides over to cover Bosh, then LeBron has a open Mike Miller on the strong side corner.
The Heat need to do a better job of taking advantage of this.
2) Have LeBron play like LeBron
One of the biggest concerns for Miami coming into the Finals was having this series turn into a reversion of the 2011 Dallas series. A Texas team motivated in a "win one for the gipper" mode, that doesn't back down or make mistakes, but does makes big plays. Additionally, LeBron deferring to become a spectacularly well balanced role player.
Well, that was game 1 in a nutshell
You heard LeBron say the other day:
"I've done more and lost"
In the Finals, the biggest stage in professional basketball, LeBron has three career triple doubles.
He is now 1-2.
2011 game 5 loss triple double: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 8-19 shots, 1-2 FTs
2013 game 1 loss triple double: 18 points, 18 rebounds, 8 assists, 7-16 shots, 3-4 FTs
2012 game 5 win triple double: 26 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds, 9-19 shots, 8-9 FTs
While this is a small sample size, there seems to be a bit of a difference in terms of his scoring output in the triple double win and loses, no? And check out his 2012 near triple-double win:
26 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds, 10-20 shots, 5-8 FTs.
Additionally, LeBron James is 1-2 in the NBA Finals.
So, let's look at his career NBA finals averages:
2007 Finals 22 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists on 36% shooting (lost in 4)
2011 Finals 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists on 48% shooting (third on team in scoring - lost in 6)
2012 Finals 29 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists on 47% shooting (won in 5)
So you're telling me, when LeBron scores more, when it matter most, his team wins??????
Or that when the best player in the world dominates the game offensively, his team wins??????
This comes as a complete shock.
It's not about LeBron doing "more". He already does everything.
It is about him doing what he does on a regular basis.
Regular season average: 27 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists
Playoff average: 26 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assist
Conference Finals average: 29 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists.
If he wants to (or allows himself to) become Magic Johnson (Career playoff average: 19.5 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds), Miami will lose. Plain and Simple
After all if the well rounded approach didn't work two years ago in the Finals when Wade averaged 27 points, 7 rebounds, & 5 assists and Bosh averaged 19 points & 7 rebounds, what makes you think it will work now when they are at 14, 5, & 5 and 12 & 7, respectively?
Now is not the time to get tired. Neither is it the time to get cute and show the whole world how well rounded you are. Now is the time to show everyone in the world what a bully you are.