2013 NBA Playoffs – Finals Game 1 – Heat too Soft?

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Game 1 between the Heat and Spurs was definitely a fun watch. Tony Parker‘s last second shot (which I thought at the time might be a travel) by itself was worth tuning in to see live. But there are a few areas that could be ratcheted up to bring the play to another level.

San Antonio -

    What worked?

Limiting turnovers, clogging the paint, and initiating early offense in their half-court sets. The good news for the Spurs is that this is pretty much how they always play and isn’t something that they struggle to achieve. I’m not even sure the term “offensive sets” applies to this team any more. They have such great chemistry, their whole offense is basically a delayed transition masterpiece of screens, re-screens, cuts, and fades to openings that the entire team predicts. Like the triangle, Showtime, SSOL, or the flex, the Pop’s offense is built around ball and player movement that gives options, but options that the whole Spurs team is tuned into and able to coordinate as one. Beautiful to watch when they are finishing the plays.

    What needs work?

Making and denying open shots. The San Antonio wings missed slew of open shots in Game 1, and they got away with it because the Heat perimeter shooters also missed a lot of wide open shots. The Spurs are just going to have to hope that the rust shakes loose, and they start to connect on those looks from deep, because Miami has the speed to recover to shooters better than they did last night, and the windows to get those shots off will be narrower in the next game. Making the open ones will be crucial because Miami will start to make theirs. Ray Allen rarely has consecutive off nights. That’s what makes him such a valuable player even as his defense and floor speed deteriorate.

Miami –

    What worked?

There were a few good signs for the Heat even though they lost. As mentioned above, they managed to get open shots. Unlike the Pacers, the Spurs are not willing to let LeBron James operate on an island on offense. They are sending help and opening up opportunities for others. The Heat shooters need to make those shots or attack closing defenders off the dribble, get to the lane, and draw some whistles. Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, and Chris Bosh can all take advantage of rotating defenders with their superior speed. The other really good thing the team (LeBron) did was focus on defensive rebounding. The Spurs are a pretty solid team at getting tips around the rim, and for the most part Miami controlled their defensive backboard thanks to James. Now the reason LeBron was able to roam around gathering up boards is because he was on a non-scorer on defense, and if they plan to use him more on Parker and Manu Ginobili, they’ll need someone else to step up and clean the glass.

    What needs work?

Pressure defense. Obviously pressing the Spurs into turnovers is more difficult than doing the same to the Pacers or Bulls. Tony has a great (GREAT) handle, and so does Manu, and Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw both have great hands and make some terrific reads against swarming defenses. Despite all that, the Heat’s biggest weapon against a precision passing club like San Antonio is its ability to muddy the water with a super-aggressive trap and recover pressure defense. They need to attack the pick and roll more, collapse harder in the paint, get their hands in the passing lanes, and trust their speed and athleticism to allow them to recover timely. If they can get some deflections and turn this series into a track meet, the Spurs don’t have the legs to keep up with them.

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