Seeds: San Antonio Spurs, No. 1; Miami Heat, No. 2
Series: Spurs 2, Heat 1
Schedule: Game 4, Thursday, June 12, 9 p.m. ET (ABC); Game 5, Sunday, June 15, 8 p.m. ET (ABC); Game 6*, Tuesday, June 17, 9 p.m. ET (ABC); Game 7*, Friday, June 20, 9 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Spurs’ success in this series has always hinged on that, their “Others.” Tuesday night, the support staff passed its exam with flying colors.
For San Antonio, the challenge is to keep getting enough quantity to offset Miami’s edge in quality. The Heat may have the best trio in the business, but the Spurs can overwhelm with the size of their offensive attack.
Boris Diaw’s insertion into the starting five gave San Antonio a versatile offensive weapon and underrated defender. Patty Mills has hit 44.4 percent of his three-point tries in the series, and Marco Belinelli added a timely triple to help stymie the Heat’s comeback bid.
The Spurs might not have another shooting display quite like this in them. The brilliance of balance in their box score is something they can certainly replicate, though.
It’s an act they have almost perfected over the last decade-plus.
Offensively, Miami had its best first quarter of the series in Game 3. At the opposite end, though, the Heat showed nothing that resembled championship-level defense.
“The one-on-one defense was bad, the closeouts were bad, our help was bad. Everything was bad,” Chris Bosh said, via Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re gonna win a championship with that kind of effort.”
The Heat have to open the contest with much better energy. Stumbling out of the gate might not have been a death sentence in the Eastern Conference, but it’s a deal-breaker against a team with as much firepower as the Spurs have.
There are offensive hurdles to clear—Bosh took just four shots in 34 minutes, Mario Chalmers has yet to show well in this series—but the Heat have to get back to their defensive roots.
And that means unleashing their suffocating, swarming defensive effort from the opening tip. When the Heat are turning good shots into great ones for the Spurs, San Antonio will pounce on the opportunities afforded to it.
Miami’s top gear might be more than San Antonio’s motor can handle. The Heat cannot rely on those short sprints alone to get back into this series.
They must find a sustainable pace, one they can maintain for the full 48 minutes.
“We hate the performance we put on tonight but it’s 2-1, not 4-1,” James said.
The Heat know both where they stand and what is needed going forward. That knowledge, combined with elite personnel and the support of their home fans, should be enough for Miami to turn this into a three-game series.
San Antonio Spurs (2-1) -vs- Miami Heat (1-2)
release: Miami Heat ML
wager: 9.6u $