At the moment, the San Antonio Spurs can’t put up much of a fight, certainly not like the one they gave the Miami Heat in last year’s NBA finals; too many injuries on their side, while LeBron James and Chris Bosh are playing too good of basketball at the moment, including some defense we haven’t seen from the NBA champions in quite some time.
The first game between the teams that provided us a thrilling and dramatic 7 game finals series seven months ago was something of an anticlimactic event. The Spurs were able to hang on for one half, but Chris Bosh and LeBron James took things to another level in the third quarter, sending the game into a long period of garbage time for the fourth quarter.
Chris Bosh continues to show his rare form, adding 24 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 9-of-10 from the field. He’s shooting at 74% from the field over the last three games, averaging 23.7 points in the wins over the Spurs, Lakers and Celtics.
James had a good game as well, staying on the floor for 28 minutes. He finished with 18 points, adding 7 rebounds and 6 assists and a few highlight worthy plays: Hitting a shot from behind the backboard, a wonderful assist to Chris Bosh and taking a three pointer like he was setting up for a free throw shot.
Mario Chalmers also had a great game with 16 points and some excellent defense on Tony Parker. The Spurs’ point guard is second in the NBA in drives to the basket each game (10.6). He had no problem finding his way into the paint during the first half (six times), but was limited to nothing in the second half, and managed to score only 2 points off pick & rolls during the entire game, a season low for him.
The Spurs are still without Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter; possibly their three most important defensive players. A top 5 defense when everyone is playing, the Spurs allowed the Heat to shoot 58.1% from the field and 42.1% from beyond the arc in the 113-101 loss.
The Heat shot 72.2% from the field in the first quarter, their highest FG pct in a 1st quarter this season. Their 34 points in that quarter is Miami’s most against a Western Conference opponent this season, and T-2nd most against any opponent.
Things were close until the Heat got tired of “playing games” in the third quarter, going off on a 25-9 run after leading by only four points (66-62). From that moment garbage time officially began, sending key players to the bench.
Dwyane Wade was back, playing from the bench. He was on the floor for 24 minutes, scoring 8 points. Ray Allen continued to start for him, scoring 10 points. Wade wasn’t the only contributor off the bench: Greg Oden continues to pile on minutes with 3 points in 13 minutes while Michael Beasley scored 12 in 20 minutes.
Both of them still aren’t playing too many minutes when the game actually matters, but the Heat seem to on something of a roll in recent games, and it also has something to do with certain roles being more defined for bench players; and area that was slightly a mess until not too long ago.