After all the jokes and moments that made fun of LeBron James, it’s time for actual basketball and game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals, as the San Antonio Spurs carry a 1-0 lead, hoping that the second encounter looks a lot more like the fourth quarter in the first game instead of what things were like before the Miami Heat lost their best player.
The Spurs won by 15 points thanks to a barrage of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, the Spurs have very little going on in their favor. Tim Duncan was good and finished with an impressive double double, missing only one shot during the game, but his ability doesn’t win or lose games for the Spurs. Manu Ginobili was excellent off the bench and Boris Diaw once again proved to be a game changer and mismatch nightmare during his minutes.
But overall? The Heat were better up to the point of LeBron James exiting with cramps. Tradition says that the losing side makes adjustments while the winning team simply tries to do more of what worked well for them. This means going small – no Splitter and yes to Duncan, while pushing the tempo as high as possible. For the Heat, while not playing a cohesive, great game right from the start, there’s not much to do differently.
Unless you look at the minutes without James. With him, everything ticked. No matter who guards LeBron, another big man has to spy him and move accordingly. This opens up lanes to the paint for others or outside shots for Chris Bosh who did well as long as the defense didn’t have to focus on him. Dwyane Wade hit his mid range shots and was able to get out on the open floor. All that changed the moment James left the floor.
Without anyone injured, the Heat have what it takes to slow down the Spurs. Use bigger players to slow down Tony Parker, never leave your eye off of Danny Green, who can’t do anything unless he is wide open or in a catch and shoot situation, and not helping out in the paint at all costs. Tim Duncan might have an advantage in the post against anyone who guards him, but creating open 3-point shots is a lot more destructive.
Turnovers in the fourth quarter made a lot of difference. Dwyane Wade the Heat simply lost too much of the ball. Tim Duncan said things worked well because the Spurs stopped turning the ball over themselves. The Heat had no transition offense in those minutes, and without a chance to run a little bit, their half court offense simply isn’t good enough to make that much of a difference.
The Heat’s gameplan worked, and it shouldn’t change by much. The swarming on certain players defensively seemed to have an edge to the Spurs’ ball movement and off the ball movement before the wild and crazy finish. A clash of styles in a way, although the Heat, despite LeBron James, don’t play like they’re the Thunder in terms of relying on bootlegs from their stars. Without any injury disruptions or something else, this clash of styles should provide us with a much more interesting finish this time.