The San Antonio Spurs need to adjust heading into game 3 of the NBA Finals. After taking game 1 from the Miami Heat, they were destroyed in game 2. The game two butt-whoopin’ by a score of 103-84 has caused people to forget that this team did beat the Heat earlier in the week, and that the series is still tied up.
There is a reason that the San Antonio Spurs are the favorite over the mighty Miami Heat in the eyes of Vegas tonight. The Spurs are tied in the series and have home court advantage for the first time in the NBA Finals. The chances of another blow out by either team seem unlikely.
Home court advantage belongs to the Spurs for the next three games, long enough that they could theoretically bring home an NBA title without ever travelling back to Miami again. Unlikely as that is, the Spurs are still in the more advantageous position in this series and should be able to further that position pending a few adjustments to their game plan.
In game 2, the Miami Heat were able to run up and down the floor past the San Antonio defense. Forcing turnovers and outrunning their opponents for easy transition baskets enabled the defending champions to go on a remarkable 33-5 run to put the game out of reach.
The San Antonio Spurs will be ready to adjust at home in game 3, slowing the pace down to a level that takes the Heat out of their rhythm and enabling their star trio to play at their most effective level. The home court will certainly play a role if they can play tough early and get the crowd energized behind them.
Game 1 saw the Heat defense predictably attempt to handle the All-Stars of the Spurs, they trapped Tony Parker on nearly every screen and role attempt with little success. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra recognized this and came out with a variety of looks in game 2. The technique was effective, and created an uncharacteristic 17 turnovers by the Spurs.
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are veteran ball handlers who will make sure that they are prepared for those looks in game 3. Turnovers shouldn’t be become a common issue for the Spurs throughout this series given the experience their guards possess in big games. Playing in the post season each of the last 16 seasons will give a team the kind of experience it needs to adjust bounce back from a tough loss like they suffered so that they can earn a win in game 3.
Lebron James was limited to a small output compared to what he was used to, he scored only 17 points in game 2. That was by design. Miami used James as a set up man, making sure that he didn’t settle for jump shots like the Spurs were anticipating he would. He was successfully able to work without the ball, and create for others when he did have the ball. The Heat eclipsed the 100 point barrier, which has been rare for them this post season, as a result. Mario Chalmers saw his stat line increase, putting up a game high 21 points on the night.
Expect the Spurs to continue to pressure James, but perhaps Greg Poppovich can create more isolation situations where his defense forces the Heat ball handler, when it isn’t James, to put the ball on the floor and score himself. That would be an adjustment that would show the Spurs are ready to take back the series lead in game 3.
Tim Duncan gave a rare poor performance in game 2, and the Spurs will need to adjust so that he gets into a rhythm early in game 3. He is a double double machine when he gets going, and remains one of the best players in the NBA despite being 37 years old. He is far superior to the Heat front court and should be able to dominate if the Spurs make the proper adjustments to get him the ball in advantageous situations.
Although the Miami Heat won game 2 to draw even with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, it is a seven game series and there is much more back and forth drama to ensue. The Heat adjusted nicely in game 2, showing a few new wrinkles in their game plan. It is now the San Antonio Spurs turn to adjust and show that they are ready to take advantage in the series in front of their home fans in game 3.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express
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