Two very different situations in the two game 3’s we have going to open the weekend of NBA Playoff basketball: The Miami Heat taking a two game lead and plenty of confidence to play on the road against the Charlotte Bobcats, while the San Antonio Spurs try and recover from the beating they were handed by the Dallas Mavericks in the previous encounter.
Things for the Heat are simple. They didn’t exactly destroy the Bobcats in games 1 and 2, but there was no doubt about the better team. Al Jefferson began the series as a huge problem, but he is very limited on both ends of the floor with his leg injury that seems to be getting worse the more he plays. It means no big man that can score in the paint, and a lot easier to handle Kemba Walker and his insistence on making this series a fair one.
The Bobcats historically struggle against the Heat, but without outside shooting and ball movement that doesn’t involve Walker lowering his head and driving into the paint, they’re not going to win this series, or even come close to winning a game. An interesting matchup will be Josh McRoberts and his moments with LeBron James following his flagrant foul in game 2, which resulted in a fine although the Heat expected a lot more than that.
In Dallas, things are more interesting. A bad defensive team throughout this season, the Mavs have brought the Spurs’ offense to a halt, keeping them on 91 points per game through the first two. They’re not allowing open 3-pointers and Shawn Marion spending a lot of time on Tony Parker makes things easier for the Mavs, hiding their defensive weaknesses in guys like Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon.
The Spurs won’t turn the ball over as much as they did in game 2, and their offense will look different. Maybe more ball to Tim Duncan in the paint after hardly using him in game 2, or possibly more minutes of Manu Ginobili next to Tony Parker, giving the Spurs two ball handlers. Whatever it is, Gregg Popovich’s main course of action should be bringing the Mavs back to being a team relying on Nowitzki and Ellis taking tough shots and not the Mavs running away thank to turnovers and fast breaks.