Without LeBron, Wade, and Chalmers, the Heat still looked pretty damn good. (Sidenote: How ironic was it that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra held out his best players against the Spurs, just like the Spurs did against the Heat early on in the season? And both games were great. These teams prove that in today’s NBA, coaches and systems are equally important as the players who execute their roles.) So many players stepped up tonight and played well for them. Rashard Lewis played defense like he was back in Orlando in All-Star form. Shane Battier made plays. Mike Miller went 4-6 from three and had 5 assists. Norris Cole looked comfortable running the show. Hell, James Jones (JAMES JONES!) even made an impact, and it wasn’t even shooting-wise, his defense was good. The underlying theme tonight for Miami was team defense, and they executed it perfectly. They played terrific help defense, and had each other’s backs all night long. They played the gaps perfectly whenever a Spur tried to penetrate. Maybe their most impressive feat was taking away Tony Parker’s ability to make plays out of the pick-and-roll, which is something the Spurs rely heavily on. Chris Bosh also played amazingly, hopefully giving him some more confidence after being a bit shaky after the All=Star break. Early on he was able to get going, hitting 4-5 shots in the first quarter for 10 points. He finished with 23, nailing a heavily contested three in the final seconds to give Miami a two point lead. At the end of the day, you can’t do much else but applaud Erik Spoelstra and the Heat. They devised a great gameplan, and executed it perfectly.
It’s important for Spurs fans to remember that this is just one loss, and it’s nothing to fret over. Miami played a hell of a game, and got the win. That doesn’t mean San Antonio played badly. The Spurs were forced into bad shots for most of the night, and were able to hit them at a good enough rate to fight back into the game late. They actually had the lead in the final minute, but then Chris Bosh (A 28.3% career 3PT FG shooter) hit a three on a pick-and-pop that the Spurs played perfectly. Sometimes great players just make great shots. Keep in mind that against 3 of the top 5 other teams in the league, the Spurs went 2-1. Also, they have another tough game against Memphis tonight, making it a back-to-back against 2 top teams. The Spurs are being tested right now, and even if they lose they aren’t playing badly. Keep your head up Silver and Black fans, don’t complain about anything, the San Antonio Spurs are still a top 3 team in the league. You’ve got it good.