No team that has lost its first two games at home in the NBA finals went on to win the NBA title. That’s why the Miami Heat are in a must-win situation heading into game 2, while the San Antonio Spurs are feeling confident without trying to show it too much, unlike other teams that lost to the Heat along the way.
So what is in the history books the Heat can rely on? When it comes to recent history, their 10-0 record this season following losses since January 12 is certainly encouraging. The Heat usually adjust very well from game to game, in tactics and especially in attitude, winning their after-loss games by an average of 19.9 points, which included their 23-point win over the Indiana Pacers in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Losses fuel something inside of them – more intensity and a sense of urgency, not to mention figuring out what went wrong in the first game, both on a personal level from the players and Erik Spoelstra providing the guidelines to the next game. Some think that it was fatigue from the Pacers series that made the Heat look sluggish offensively, especially in the fourth quarter, but too much rest wasn’t very good for them in the beginning of the conference semifinals against the Bulls.
While their defense did do a good job against the Spurs, keeping them on 92 points while shooting 41.7% from the field and the very important 30.4% from beyond the arc, it still wasn’t enough. Because the Spurs missed, but didn’t turn over the ball (only 4!). When the Heat force more than 10 turnovers in a game, they’ve won 81.8% of the times, not to mention almost 90% when its up to 20 turnovers.
They missed, but didn’t make too many mistakes, and scored 0.95 points per possession, not too far away from their regular season efficiency. The game was decided on a play here or there – LeBron James turning the ball over a couple of times during the awful fourth quarter, Chris Bosh missing a wide open three-pointer, Tony Parker making that huge basket. But the result of game 2 hinges on whether or not the Heat figure out the Spurs’ defense, and not the other way around.
Tim Duncan finished with 3 blocks in the game, but it was about stopping the Heat from doing what they love. They hardly had a chance to run, scoring only 9 fast break points, and finished with 0.73 points per possession on transition offense. When the Heat tried to lower their heads and score in isolation plays, the two-layer defense, with Duncan navigating from the paint, worked very well, keeping the Heat on o.60 points per possession on such plays.
Prediction – The Miami Heat play better after losses, and the Spurs got a little bit lucky in their game 1 win. However, a blowout isn’t likely. These Spurs are different from the team that lost to the Thunder a year ago in the conference finals, while the Miami Heat have too many players far from their best ability. Still, James isn’t going to have a weak perofrmance a second game in a row, and he’ll have someone to back him up, or more than one, as the Heat even the series.