True Hoops

True Hoops

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Advantage: #Twitter

Do you think it was a good idea for social media to make fun of LeBron James for cramping (i.e. #LeBroning) during the end of game 1 of the Finals? Or what about sport beverage conglomerate Gatorade poking fun at LeBron?

Didn't they see what happened to Lance Stevenson and the Pacers when they tried to taunt/blow in LeBron's ear??? Don't they know that these sorts of antics don't end well for them or their favorite team?

Coach Frank Vogel, what do you think about trying to incite/get under LeBron's skin?

"I don't think it's ever tug on superman's cape.....I don't think that's ever good....I just don't think it's good to tug on the cape."

So, what happens when you "tug on the cape?"
You get this face:

And then you get these results:
35 points on ~64% shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds.
Oh, and a Miami win to even the series.

When are opponents and fans of opponents going to learn - you play with fire you burn.
Stop testing this dude!

Heat Check 
Speaking of responding favorably to pressure, how about the fact that Miami has now won 13 striaight games following a loss in the playoffs?

Heat Cake
Speaking of surviving the heat and blossoming through it, how about coach Mark Jackson with the quote of the Finals thus far:

"Went in flour, came out cake. Something about the Heat makes you great."

And 1
Superstars can win you a game, especially on the road.
But they often need some support to win a series.
Thankfully for the Heat, Chris Bosh came through with the hardest (in terms of nasty) play of the series:

And 3
And then he stepped outside and did this:

And handle
And then he finished the game off in style:

Yes, that is Chris Bosh, in the course of the game dunking on Spurs defenders, hitting a clutch three late in the fourth to give Miami the lead. And then breaking down the defense off the dribble to find Wade for the game clinching basket. Kind of versatile, no?
18 points for the game 2 on the road, but by the way, he has averaged `21 points a game over the last 5.

Flop cake 
Speaking of last 5, 
D. Wade was just fined 5K for doing this last game:

Maybe not so good that Wade has only averaged ~16 point per game in the last 5.

Elbow room
This looked real though: 

Physical point
Is Mario Chalmers dirty?
Perhaps the Bad Boys of the late 80's/early 90's wouldn't think so.

No point
Maybe it doesn't matter what Chalmers does anyway.
The heat went without a point guard on the floor during the home stretch of game 2. 
Instead, they used a lineup of:
Rashard Lewis 
Ray Allen.

Seems like everyone on that list can handle the ball anyway.

The turning point
How about with ~6:30 in the 4th when Chalmers was called for that flagrant foul, which awarded San Antonio two foul shots and the ball. Tony Parker missed his two free throws, then Duncan was fouled and missed two free throws as well. The Spurs missed out on a chance to go up 6 with half a quarter to play. Instead, on the next possession, LeBron hit a three to put the Heat up one.

Wow, it's rare that you see a 7 point swing in basketball.

Interesting point
LeBron James switched on to guarding Tony Parker late in the 4th quarter. The result?
Parker, who scored 18 points through three quarters, finished the game with 21.

James has a tendency to take opposing point guards out of the game (3 years ago with Derrick Rose, last year with Tony Parker as well). 

So, in light of this trend, Jeff van Gundy wondered aloud, "If LeBron is guarding Parker, why don't the Spurs have Ginobili run the point and come off on the ball screens?"

There may be something to that. 
Ginobili is averaging 17.5 points a game and is averaging as many assists a game as Parker away, both with 7.5 a game through the first two.

Besides, how essential is traditional point guard play in these late game situations anyway?
The Spurs run their offense through all five guys and the Heat run their offense through LeBron.
And maybe having LeBron chase Parker off multiple screens away from the ball would be more beneficial for the Spurs.

Random thought
Do other NBA players watch the NBA Finals?
Do they root for anyone?
Who is Kevin Durant rooting for?
What about Russell Westbrook and Paul George?

Curse of accomplishments
Speaking of random, did you know that in game 1 LeBron joined Kobe and Jordan as the only players in NBA playoff history to score at least 4,000 points with at least 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists?
And guess what? they lost that game!

Did you know that in game 2, Tim Duncan tied Magic Johnson for the most double doubles in NBA playoff history??? 
And guess what? They lost that game!

Please, leave the historical stats for after the Finals!


For Miami:
1) Keep chasing the Spurs off the three.
The Spurs still had 12 last game, but that was one less (3 points) than the 13 the Spurs made in game won. FYI, Miami won by two three point can make a big difference.

It kind of feels wired to say this, but Miami may want to make Tim Duncan beat them. Or at least the Spurs as a whole by shooting twos.

2) Exploit Duncan on defense. Who is he going to guard when Bosh and Lewis are on the court? As we saw towards the end of the Indiana series and game two of the Finals, Bosh is really effective coming off down screens and using his dribble against opposing team's bigs. Why not continue to do so this game? Even if Diaw guards Bosh, can Duncan guard Lewis on the perimeter?

3) How about switching everything on defense? The Spurs are able to break you down coming off of screens and then reverse the ball to open three point shooters. This happens by weak side defenders needing to leave their man to help on ball handlers coming off a screen getting into the paint. With Lewis and Bosh as your bigs - why not just switch? They can defend on the perimeter. And even if they get beat off the dribble - at least it's for only two points.

For San Antonio:
1) Maybe it's time they get Kawhi Leonard involved. I'm not sure if they feature him on offense, but having him play to a similar level as he did last year in the Finals might be critical. How about running him off some down screens to get him active?

2) What about trying a zone defense as a different look? This way they can focus multiple defenders on LeBron and not allow him to have an isolation at the top of the key or in the post. Dallas did this effectively in 2011.

3) And why not just straight up double LeBron and force the ball out of his hands?
This may be equally as weird to say as with Duncan, but maybe the Spurs force Wade to beat them. At least that way the Heat are going away from their strength.

But after all this, let me ask you an honest question:
Are these teams past the point of making adjustments?
I mean, they've played each other 13 times in the last two years and the record in 7-6 in favor of the Heat. These two teams are so evenly matched that really I don't know what there is to adjust to anymore. They know what each other's strengths and weaknesses are at this point.

Just minutes ago, coach Pop said in the game 3 pre-game media session that at this point the games are more about who can execute their stuff. And Wade just said minutes ago in the Heat locker room that both games this series came down to a few plays at the end - in other words, which team was able to take advantage of the opportunities to make shots/plays down the stretch.

Execution of plays and opportunities?
Sounds familiar.

So who will impose their will tonight and make the necessary plays in the last few minutes of the game?

Probably the team that wins the game!!!

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