True Hoops

True Hoops

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Advantage: 70% shooting from the floor!!!

You thought it was hot in Texas???
Broken ACs ain't got nothing on the Spurs shooting!

How is it possible that a team can shoot ~76% from the floor in one half of a basketball game (let alone an NBA Finals basketball game)?
Or, how the heck can a team shoot ~87% in the first quarter...... or an absurd 90% mid-way through the second quarter?

Just how crazy was the Spurs first half of game 3?
Let's make a list:
.758 from the field is the highest shooting percentage for a half in the NBA Finals......ever.
.867 from the field in the first quarter is the second highest shooting percentage for any quarter in the NBA Finals......ever (Second of course to the .875 percent the Spurs shot in the 4th quarter of game 1!).
71 points in a half of the NBA Finals, that's the first time it's happened in 24 years!
Oh, and the measly .594 percent that Spurs shot for the entire game....that's their best shooting percentage for a game in the entire 2014 playoffs (second of course was game 1 of these Finals!).

So yes, the shooting display that the Spurs put on, on Miami's home court, against a team that was (but not anymore) allowing the second fewest points in the playoffs..... was nothing short of amazing.

I have to ask......Boris Diaw....did you guys do anything different?

"We didn't change anything from a game plan standpoint from game 2 to game 3. We just had to go back to what we were doing and play Spurs basketball."
Wait, really?
Well, did you guys focus on getting anyone in particular the ball to shoot?

"The ball was moving. There was no way to know who was going to shoot the ball."

I see.
But, I mean, that was pretty amazing. How did you guys do that???

"Like I said, we didn't do anything special. We made shots from the outside.....some nights you make them, some nights you're going to miss them, but nothing special."

Well then.
I'm sure Miami would hate to see them actually play special.

(by the way - that's really what Boris Diaw said).

Different looks
Okay, maybe the approach wasn't different, but starting Boris was.
And why not start a guy that was on the floor during your previous best stretch of basketball in the Finals (last 6 minutes of game 1) and was third on the team in assists (5.5 a game) for games 1 & 2?

And, Boris Diaw was a +25 on the floor during games 1 & 2 (+30 in game 1! Highest on Spurs!).

Maybe putting Boris in the starting lineup wasn't an adjustment per say, but it certainly was a tweak that enabled the Spurs to dictate the tempo from the jump.

By the way, Diaw was +20 in game 3.....making him a +45 for the Finals thus far.
Yes, the highest on either side. Interesting how someone that is averaging only 6 points a game can have such a huge impact on the series (money ball?).

But he rebounds (over 8 a game) and moves the ball, plus he can defend Bosh fairly well.
And one thing about ball movement - it's contagious.
The Spurs had 21 assist in game 3.....but no one had more than 4 (9 players had at least 1 assist).
That's what you call team basketball.

Offense is the best Defense
How do you stop LeBron???
Score the ball!
It's the great equalizer. Who cares how great greatness is - if you have more points than him.

That's right! No need for double teams or zone defenses. All you need to do is not miss a shot (or at least no more than 30% of your shots in a half).

You might say that LeBron only scored 22 points for the maybe if he scored more Miami could have won. Well - he did have 14 points in the 1st quarter to carry the load (on pace for 56), but Miami was still down 16 when he subbed out to start the second. By the time he checked back in with ~9:00 to go in the half - Miami was down 21.

Game over man.

No need to worry about what he scores in the second half (which was 6 points).

Leonard hits his high 
What was an adjustment that San Antonio needed to make before game 3?
How about getting Kawhi Leonard involved? Remember that one?
Last year in the Finals, he averaged ~15 points, on 51% shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds per game. Through games 1& 2 this year...... 9 points and 2 rebounds.

Game 3?
29 points on 10-13 shooting.
And in case you were wondering, yes that is a career high for him.

Again, one way to slow down LeBron is to make him work defensively.
But would you have guessed Kawhi would outplay LeBron (as well as everyone on the building) in game 3?

By the way, this guy is only 22 years old!

Green adjustment
Remember when I asked if "these teams are past the point of making adjustments?"
Well guess what? They're not!

Case in point:
Danny Green shot 7 for 8 in game 3....but only made 1 three pointer!
This becomes fairly mid-blowing when you consider, in last year's Finals Green made 32 field goals the entire series.......and 27 of them were three pointers! Holy schnikies, you mean to tell me that Danny Green's 6 two-pointers in game 3 were more than he made ALL of last year's Finals?

And by the way, 4 of his 6 field goals in games 1 & 2 were three pointers.
So in other words, in the 9 NBA Finals game against the Heat prior to game 3, 18% of his shots made were two-pointers. In game 3, 86% were two-pointers.
Talk about switching it up.

But for good cause.
The thing is, when you are a specialist, you are fairly predictable. Everyone knows why you are in the game, and it should be fairly obvious how to take away your strength. Clearly, Miami should chase the Spurs, and in particular Danny green, off the three point line - even if it means giving up two point shots.

But for every action, there is a reaction. For every defensive adjustment, there is a counter offensive adjustment. And the thing with being a great shooter, like Danny Green, is that every defender is always running towards you to close out on your shot - so it gives you a tremendous advantage and opportunity to get by your defender simply by executing a pump fake and then driving around them.
And this is what Green did in game 3, which was something D Wade acknowledged himself.

Defenses are always trying to take away your strength and push you towards doing something you're not comfortable with. But what happens if you become comfortable at it? Then maybe the defense is in trouble.

By the way, after making 13 & 12 three pointers in games 1 & 2, respectively, The Spurs actually made a Finals low 9 three pointers in game 3. So, it may not be so much that Miami didn't try to take away the Spurs strengths - it's just that the Spurs destroyed them in spite of Miami's attempts.

Even minor adjustments - such as making twos instead of threes, can have huge impacts on games between teams that are fairly evenly match.
It just goes to show that evolution, even for an NBA player, even in the middle of an NBA Finals, never stops.....well at least if a player and their respective team wants to survive.

Green reward
Sometimes you have to stop to think about how far a player has come.
Like how Danny Green has become a major factor for the Spurs.

And this isn't lost on coaches as well. In fact, as it turns out, seeing players develop is one of the more enjoyable things for a coach, at any level.

With regards to developing players, coach Pop said yesterday:

"It's one of the most enjoyable parts of the the business, I think. You take somebody like Danny Green, who we've worked with for a long time and actually cut him twice. When you see somebody develop and come into their own, you feel like you did something worthwhile. So it's one of the sources of satisfaction in the business, if you can see a young player grow and become confident."

Seems like growing is a continuing process.....
.....even for coaches themselves

The Evolution of Pop
Coach Pop has a reputation for being a bit recalcitrant with reporters during interviews.
But there is no denying he is one of the greatest. And someone that has had such success and longevity, especially with regards to continuously incorporating new pieces into his team and getting the best out of both his role players and starts, warrants risking a chance of getting embarassed in order to find out more about what he values as a coach.

So, I gave it a shot, which you can watch on (2:55 mark).

In response to how he has evolved as a coach and what he's learned about himself and the game during the process:

"I think I've learned to shut up more. And that is probably due to Manu Ginobili. When he first came I was going to make him a heck of a player. And after 20 minutes I realized that he didn't need me to do that. He was already a heck of a player. Sometimes being quiet and letting the player play is much more important than trying to be Mr. Coach and teach him this or that."
There is more:

"So I think as time evolves and you get older in the business you figure out what's really important, and you don't waste time trying to make people what they're not going to've just got to figure out who people are and what they can give you and take advantage of their positives. " 

......How amazing was that?
Perhaps part of being knowledgable is knowing that you don't know everything.
Perhaps part of being a great leader is knowing when to listen.
And perhaps part of being a great coach is not trying to change everyone to your liking, but understanding a players strengths and weaknesses and then working on them.

Thanks for elaborating coach. I can only hope that one day you'll hit me with more.

The 2 month grind
Speaking of evolving and making adjustments. Just for a moment, consider having to do that every single night for two months straight, with the entire world watching you.

That's the NBA playoffs for the Heat and the Spurs.

LeBron what's this process like?

"You never get comfortable in a playoff series ever. You're always on edge throughout the whole you're never comfortable."
Wow, for two months straight?

Coach Spoelstra, how do you mange that?

"You don't want to get caught up in the wild swings between each game. It's competition, elite competition, so you have to figure out how you're going to win the next competition....You have to deal with that mentality and managing those emotions. You have to manage all the emotions in a very competitive series."

Never too up, never too down. Learning to handle the wild swings between victory and defeat. Sounds like it can be exhausting. Coach Spoelstra, what's it like dealing with a loss?

"It's painful. It's frustrating. It's painful. You have to go through all these emotions of seeing the things that we could have done better."

 And you only have a day to make those adjustments.....
Never comfortable, always on edge, and managing wild emotional swings.....for two months straight.
Now imagine doing that for the last 4 years......

Still think the only strength NBA players posses are physical?

Losing the ball
Talk about painful.
The Miami Heat committed 20 turnovers in game 3.
7 from LeBron and 5 from Wade.

And when Miami cut it to a 7 point deficit in the third, and trailed by 11 going into the 4th???
They then committed 6 TOs in the 4th quarter.

Things usually don't well when you can't stop the other team and can't take care of the ball offensively.

For Miami:
1) Maybe a little defense?
What's concerning is that these crazy offensive outbursts by the Spurs are becoming a trend more than an aberration. The last 6 minutes in the 4th quarter of game 1 and the first quarter of game 3. In those 18 minutes, the Spurs have put up historic performances and outscored Miami by 33 points.

Kind of crazy, that in only ~13% of the total minutes of the entire Finals thus far, the Spurs have won two games.

The good news for Miami is that they held the Spurs to only 40 points on 42% shooting in the second half of game 3.  So, in light of this, it seems like the biggest adjustment Miami needs to make is stay focused and intense defensively for an entire game.

Maybe it's finding a way to not let one shot turn into an avalanche.
And just simply, stay in front of their man.

But, I would say, look for the 100 point mark.
If San Antonio reaches it - that doesn't bode well for Miami.

2) Star power
No, not for the super friends, but for super Mario (Chalmers).
He scored 19, 20, & 14 points in Miami's game 2, 6, & 7 victories last year, respectively.
He's averaged 3.3 points and 3 assist a game thus far these Finals.

I don't know if you runs play for him.
But perhaps you need to in corporate him better - maybe on weak side spot ups....

Either that or you go without a point guard altogether.

3) Keep Bosh involved
After averaging over 21 points in Miami' s 5 previous games, Bosh only scored 9 points in game 3 (even though he was 4 for 4 from the field).

It seems like whenever Bosh plays and scores well - Miami has a good chance of winning.

4) Some offense please?
Maybe this concern is addressed in the offseason when they bring Carmelo Anthony down to South Beach. But to win this year, they could use some more offense by players currently on their roster.

Are 94 points a game gonna get it done?

For San Antonio:
Still computing......

What adjustments need to be made when you put on one of the best offensive performances in NBA Finals history....and you held LeBron to 22 points, and Bosh to 9 points, and forced Miami into 20 TOs. And when your players say that they didn't do anything different to begin with?

I would say:
Eat the same meal you did before game 3.
And dress the same way you did before game 3.

Maybe the only thing I would say is to close out and find Rashard Lewis better. Lewis has averaged ~13 points a game this series, on 54% shooting.

Now think about this for a second.
We're (and by we I mean me) saying that Miami needs to change everything (offense and defense) while the Spurs don't have to change anything. That would seem a little concerning for Miami.

I know, I know. They have been in this situation before, having won their last 13 playoff games coming off a loss. But does that mean it's going to hold up tonight?

At this point, it seems fairly obvious the Spurs have the better team....but Miami has LeBron.
In year's past and even before these Finals began - I think everyone (including myself) always felt that Miami's chances were all up to LeBron. But for the first time in the past 4 years, I wonder if that's simply not enough. The Spurs, with their team dominance in game 3 have managed to make it seem as if whatever LeBron does is inconsequential.

Is that possible?
Is the best is not enough?

Can anyone else on Miami help????

I guess we'll find out tonight!

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