San Antonio Spurs, 2014 NBA Champions

Larry O’Brian Trophy

SPURS, 2014, NBA CHAMPS. Title says it all. First off, I’d like to congratulate the San Antonio Spurs, they are one of the most deserving team to win the title because of their selflessness and the way the play the game. There is no “I” in their game, it is entirely “Team”. They are the epitome of team basketball if you ask me.

First off, I would like to say that I was rooting for the Heat. It’s not so much that I like the Heat but rather I like to see LeBron succeed and prove all his doubters wrong. But against the Spurs, I knew there would only be one word for this”, “TOUGH”. Last year Final’s went to 7 games and I would say the Heat was pretty lucky to win it and Ginobili wasn’t even playing well. Well, we all saw what happened this year.

Talking about last year, well… You gotta give it to the Spurs. It was tough & heartbreaking to lose last year, but they used it as motivation to help them instead. They stayed focus throughout the regular season, clinching the number one seed in the west and advanced to the playoffs beating Dallas, Portland, OKC and finally Miami. It would have been easy for the to beat themselves up, not play well and keep feeling that it was taken from them. Yet, the focus, resolve and determination from them brought them back to the Finals. You could see them fighting for every loose ball, every possession, not taking anything for granted. This was a team looking for redemption and they got it.

They say that this is their sweetest championship yet and you can see why. All the hard work, all the belief, all that effort paid off and it just might make what happen last year “ok”. The San Antonio Spurs, your 2014 NBA Champions.

Heat vs Spurs. The series so far.

4 games in, one pretty dominating team. How did it happen? What were the factors? Are the Heat still capable of coming back? I’ll answer the last question later in this article. Right now, let’s take a look at 3 factors that have developed over this series so far.

 

  • Heat’s trapping defense

The Miami Heat have always looked to double and trap the ball handler forcing turnovers which can contribute to fast break opportunities. I believe it’s a defensive scheme that requires all five player to be defending together as a whole. One mistake and someone will be open.

This season, the Heat has gotten poorer defensively. While they were in the top 7 in defensive efficiency in the past 3 season, they are only 11th this season and only 3 teams in the past 36 years have managed to win while being outside the top 10 in defensive efficiency. Against an offensive juggernaut like the Spurs, you can’t really slip up too much or they will make you pay dearly as we’ve seen.

 

  • Where are Miami point guards

Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have each shot under 35.5% and less than 17% from beyond the arc. They are both averaging 3.5ppg. These are stats that have really hurt the Heat and because the Spurs are playing so well, it’s not much of a contest.

 

  • Coach Pop changes, Coach Spo?

In Game 3, Coach Pop inserted Diaw into the starting lineup for Splitter. It turn out to be a great move as Diaw’s passing and versatility allowed the Spurs’ offense to move the ball better and take advantage of the Heat’s defense. Pop has never been afraid to make changes to his starting lineup or giving someone more minutes, but Coach Spo has always trusted his same group of guys. Sure Miami has a bench that is always ready to step up and from series to series Miami’s starting lineups would change, but his doesn’t really shake his lineup up during a series.

I feel that maybe he has to look at making a change because the offense or defense has work to be done. I am not saying I know where, but maybe he needs to look at the guys he has and decide if someone could come in and provide something extra.

 

Can the Heat comeback?

No team has come back from 3-1 down to win in the Finals before, so history is against them. But I remember reading in an article that Game 5 is a must win for the home team. Let’s say Heat win Game 5, brings it back to 3-2. They will feel confident and home advantage just might show in Game 6, if it does and the Heat take advantage of it and win, it will bring this series to 3-3. Then it’s just one game to decide the champions.

Sure it’s a long shot, but Game 5 is important for both teams. The Spurs will want to close it out on their home floor and not wait till Game 7, the Heat are fighting to stay alive. I feel that the Heat will take Game 5, but the series is still going to the Spurs. Unless the Heat suddenly find a major adjustment in Game 5, if not it’s still going to the Silver & Black.

Heat vs Spurs Game 1. How the Heat helped the Spurs win.

HOT. That was the feeling around the arena. In the 2nd half of the game, it was at times even hotter than outside of the arena. That is one hot place to play in and naturally players will feel weak, exhausted and drain physical and mentally easier. But, that is not the reason why the Heat lost, because both teams were playing in the same conditions. Here are some of the reasons that I believe contributed to the Spurs victory and how the Heat lost it late.

 

 

How the Heat helped the Spurs win

  • Mario’s foul trouble

Super Mario was limited to just 17 minutes in Game 1. He had 3 fouls in the first half and committed his fifth in the start of the fourth, with a charge on Ginobili. The foul trouble hurt his rhythm and his team, forcing Ray Allen and Norris Cole to play bigger minutes and he was unable to attack Tony Parker who did look pretty good in the game. Mario also seem pretty frustrated with himself throughout the game, further compounding the Heat’s problem.

 

  • LeBron’s cramps/Hero ball

Okay, this was not a foreseen problem for the Heat. At least, I believed they took all the precautions before the game to keep LeBron hydrated. I don’t need to say how not having LeBron made it easier for the Spurs to attack and harder for the Heat to run their offense because he’s such a great player. But the moment LeBron left the court after he made the layup on Boris Diaw, it felt to me that the Heat were forcing things. I thought they were just running a simple pick and roll and tried to attack the Spur’s defense.

Definitely I am giving credit to the Spurs, their rotations were on point and forcing the Heat to go where they wanted them to go. But I felt there could have been more ball movement from the Heat, swinging the ball to their shooters and being more patient. Perhaps it’s a combination of being away from home, Chalmers’ frustration and Wade trying to take over a bit too late. Their turnovers also cost them dearly in the fourth quarter when the Spurs were on fire.

 

 

How the Spurs won with their execution

  • Tim Duncan in the Paint

The Big Fundamental was excellent in recognizing mismatches and converting on easy baskets in the paint. He was aware when there was a guard defending him and did an excellent job of using his size and height to convert easy buckets. Sure it’s great to have teammates who are always willingly to pass, but Tiago Splitter also managed to shoot 5-6 in the paint. The Heat has to deny the entry passes better but it’s hard to stop the greatest Power Forward in the game when he’s rolling.

 

  • Manu and Diaw

We all know that the Spur’s bench is one of their greatest weapons. Players have all played in big games because Pop hasn’t been afraid to use them. So with rotations and subs being shorter due to the temperature, it didn’t affect the Spurs. But a big reason is Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw. They were both a combined +52 in the game. Ginobili contributed a double double with 16 points and 11 assists while Diaw collected 10 rebounds and dished out 6 assists for the Spurs. Ginobili was huge in the fourth, dishing out 6 assist that led to 16 of the 37 points the Spurs scored in the fourth. It’s great to see Manu shake off last year Finals performance and play like he did in Game 1.

 

Who will win Game 2?

I think the Spurs will come out wanting to continue where they left off and force the Heat into a 2-0 hole for the first time in the Big Three era, but I believe that LeBron will have something to prove. I expected the Heat to win this & probably by only a slim margin unless of course, Danny Green starts raining 3s. Then the Heat will need to find another gear if they want to steal home court advantage.

Heat vs Spurs. 3peat vs Number 5

Hi, today’s post will be about the upcoming Game 1 of the Nba Finals. The Miami Heat vs the San Antonio Spurs. I believe there are 3 key areas that will help to determine the winner of this series. This is a series of fine margins but whichever team is able to constantly win these 3 areas will stand a huge chance of bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy.

 

1. Bench production

The team whose bench is able to consistently produce while their starters rest will help to shift their series in their favour. The Spurs’ bench lead the postseason in mins per game(19.8), 3 pointers attempted(11.7), steals per game(3.6) & points per game(42.7).

The Heat’s bench has been pretty good, coming up with well in the various categories with mins per game(17.2), 3 pointers attempted(10.0). Except maybe for the steals per game(1.6) & points per game(26.5) where they aren’t as good as the mighty Spurs. However, the Heat are better than the Spurs at 3 point field goal percentage(40%) compared to the Spurs(37.6%) & in +/- the Heat leads the postseason with 3.8 compared to San Antonio’s 3.1 which is 1st & 2nd respectively in the playoffs.

This shows that both teams’ bench do not disrupt the flow of their play even when their starters take a break. But with such a deep bench and role players who know their jobs well, the Spurs gets the advantage over the Heat in this aspect.

Advantage San Antonio

 

2. Which Big 3 will bring it?

The Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs both have a Big 3 of their own, albeit there are slight differences, it will be interesting to see which Big 3 is able to impose their presence on this series. Will Parker’s ankle bother him? What about Wade’s knees? Will Ginobili be able to produce at a high level consistently for this series? Will Bosh bring his ‘A’ game every time?

I believe the rest will help both Wade & Parker heal, or at least let them get to about 80%, but as this series goes on, perhaps we will see one of them let their play get a bit affected by their injuries. Hopefully this won’t be the case.

Manu only managed to average 11.5 ppg for last year’s playoff. This year he is currently at 14.3 ppg, so i would expect Ginobili to be ready to go the moment Game 1 starts. Bosh will not be expected to put up huge numbers but he is currently at 15.2 ppg, an increase from last season 12.1 ppg during the playoffs. Expect him to be ready and he will want to erase last year’s memory of 0 points in Game 7.

I expect the decisive factor to be between Duncan and James. Although Duncan is without a doubt the greatest power forward of all time and is still performing at a ridiculous level. James’ versatility will be hard to match and it will be difficult trying to keep him quiet during this series.

Advantage Miami

 

3. LeBron’s Jumper

Yes, will LeBron bring his Jumper? Since the 2010-11 postseason, LeBron has shot 37.4%, 35.9%, 37.2% and 41.9% from the mid range thus far. Remember that the mid range is the most inefficient shot in terms of points and it really isn’t one of LeBron strength, although to be fair to him, he has worked on it. With such a tough defender like Leonard and you can expect the Spurs to continue to go under screens and defend the paint, LeBron has to find ways to score and knock down the occasional open jumper.

Note that in his first season with the Heat, in the Finals against the Mavs’s zone defense, LeBron only managed to shoot 33.3% in the paint. Against the Spurs last season, LeBron managed only 21.1% in the paint. His averages in the paint for both of the postseasons were 37.7% & 34% respectively. Compare these to when he played OKC in the 2011-12 finals, he averaged 38.1% in the paint with a post season average of 45.1%.

In 2010-11 against the Mavs, LeBron shot 38.1% from mid range, but that was because he only attempted 21 shots. Compare it to last year’s final against the Spurs(48). It’s easy to see why it’s so high. Because he wasn’t aggressive enough then and because the Spurs are forcing him to shoot. If LeBron can make them pay, it’s going to be a short series for San Antonio. If LeBron misses too much, he has to find other ways to contribute or else number 5 is going back to Texas.

Advantage? Find out in Game 1.

 

To be honest, i would like to see LeBron succeed. I would like to see him go for the 3peat and win it all again. But i really respect what the Spurs have achieved at the same time and it would be really great for Timmy and Pop to get ring number 5. My heart says Heat in 6, but my mind says Spurs in 7. Either way, it’s definitely going to be a great series.