The losing teams usually need to make adjustments, but the San Antonio Spurs weren’t that good in the NBA finals opener to feel too confident going into game 2, which resulted in a slightly embarrassing collapse late in the game, as Tony Parker lost his magic-lucky touch for once, while Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili had one of these days when they simply look old.
The Spurs have up 33 points, scoring only 5, during that started with 3:11 left in the third quarter and lasted until 7:13. It wasn’t that they couldn’t hit shots – they hardly took any, finishing with 2-of-10 from the field, turning the ball over six times, resulting in a 84-103 loss.
Anytime the lineup of Tracy McGrady, Cory Joseph, Patty Mills, DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner get almost eight full minutes to close out a game, you know the Spurs had a rough night. The only bright spot was Danny Green with his 17 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and 5-of-5 from beyond the arc, but the Spurs would have given up some of these points if Green and Kawhi Leonard (on another bad offensive performance, despite his 14 rebounds) managed to create a few more stops on defense.
But the Spurs’ offense looks its best when Tony Parker is on fire, or at least on a good day. He wasn’t close to having any of those. He finished with only 13 points on 5-of-14 from the field, turning the ball over five times. Four of those turnovers came on pick & roll plays, as the Heat looked a lot more aggressive when coming to help Mario Chalmers, reading Parker’s passes, usually bounce entry passes, perfectly almost every time.
The Spurs scored 18 points in the first half, which ended with a five point Miami lead, through Tony Parker led Pick & Roll plays. In the second half? Only 2 points, shooting only 1-of-6 and scoring 0.22 points per possession on those plays. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, combining to score only 14 points on 5-of-19 from the field, had a big part of the Spurs looking sluggish and bad through the second half, but in 2013, all eyes turn first and foremost to Tony Parker.
In the second half they just run us over. We didn’t move the ball at all. Their pressure really got us on our heels. We didn’t play well. We didn’t shoot well. I know I played awfully. Whatever it may be, they responded better than us. So hopefully we can look forward to this Game 3 and regain some of our composure.
The Spurs found it very hard to get Tim Duncan the ball due to the Heat’s aggressive defending and traps, which forced Duncan more than once to try and score point on plays in which he did it all on his own, which didn’t end too well for him and his team. Ginobili was simply out of it throughout the 18 minutes of basketball he participated in, with the Heat beating the Spurs by 23 points during his time on the floor.
Gregg Popovich might be the head coach everyone loves to praise, but part of the fault is his own. He and his players didn’t handle the pressure they knew was going to come at some point during the game. As long as their open shots dropped, it felt like the Spurs were in the game, but once they stopped getting open looks, their defense didn’t keep up with the passing and aggressiveness that came from the Heat, while their offense, especially Tony Parker, stopped playing anything remotely smart.
It’s a whole new ball game in San Antonio with three consecutive games there, but the feeling is the Spurs took a nasty blow in game 2, that might have even hurt their confidence quite a bit, despite the experience of their top 3 guys. Without the confidence in their game plan being able to stop the Miami Heat on all fronts, not just LeBron James, the Spurs aren’t going to be able to pull off the upset and dethroning the current champions.