On Friday I had a chance to talk with Lead Editor of Fansided’s own All U Can Heat, Jae Bradley. We discussed what we saw during game one, the outcome, game two and how we see the rest of the series shaping up for both the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat.
Michael Rehome (MR): For me the wait for the NBA Finals seemed to have taken a decade to get here. A long nine day break for the San Antonio Spurs for many was looking to be a good thing and yet a bad thing at the same time. Good because with their old legs, and being beaten up in a physical series with the Grizzles, it surely was something Spurs and their fans were looking and wanting. On the other end it would come as a bad thing with game rust. When the first possession of the game happened, San Antonio turned the ball over and right from that point I felt it was going to be one of those games. We then went on a 9-0 run after Wade slammed home the first two points of the game. How did you feel when San Antonio started with a turnover but then quickly went on that 9-0 run?
Jae Bradley (JB): I don’t know why the Miami Heat can’t win Game 1 and Game 2. Somehow, the Heat are allergic to defending home court — I mean, the last time the Heat won both Game 1 and Game 2 was against the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that had a losing regular season record. Can’t we just skip ahead to Game 3, so we don’t have to deal with all the anticipation and (in my case, disappointment; in your’s, jubilee) that this might be the series where the Heat actually defend home court and get off to a 2-0 series lead (spoiler alert, this is not the series where that happens). I mean, has there ever been a defending NBA champion that’s even made it to the Finals again (let alone won it again) with such an abysmal record in the first two games of a playoff series? (Please, I don’t even want to know the answer to that question unless it was Michael Jordan’s 1996-1997 Bulls, which it’s not, because I just looked it up.)
As to that 9-0 run, I’ve seen the Heat start playoff games incredibly hot, only to blow their lead in the second or third quarters (or, as it was in last night’s game, the fourth quarter). I’ve seen the Heat come out flat — looking like some 4th grade basketball team from South Beach that just learned what a bounce pass was the day before — only to get back in the game after making some halftime adjustments. I’ve seen everything from this Heat team.
And so while that 9-0 run was followed by screams of “STOP TONY PARKER! PLEASE STAHHHPPPPP HIIMMMMMM!” and vicious eye-rolling, I found myself not really panicking, knowing that the Heat would respond to San Antonio’s run (which they did).
As a Spurs fan, you’re probably feeling like this right now, or at the very least, right after the game ended/when Tony Freakin’ Parker hit that ridiculous miracle bank shot. Do you feel you can close this out in five? Maybe even six?
Meanwhile, these are all of my feelings.
MR: I for one was ecstatic when Parker got that shot off. To see that LeBron was all over him and had his hand on top of the ball and somehow, someway Parker got it off just in time before the shot clock went off.
As for the Spurs possibly winning in five. Well it does seen to be that way with the Finals format of 2-3-2. I still feel it will be six games for San Antonio to win this series.
What is your outlook for game two? Do you feel that LeBron will be on Parker for most of game two?
JB: It almost felt like LeBron kinda….gave up after he got his hand on the ball. Like he thought “there’s no way this dude’s making that shot”(and he was about 0.1 seconds away from being right). At least, that’s what I tell myself, because even after all the great defense that LeBron played on Tony Parker during that possession I think LeBron could have done a better job of altering Tony Parker’s shot.
I don’t think LeBron should guard Parker for most of Game 2, just because it’s not like Kawhi Leonard is Nando de Colo or something (no offense, Nando) — Kawhi Leonard is a legit NBA starter and can make shots. Putting a smaller guard on Kawhi or even a Mike Miller on Kawhi is a pretty serious mismatch. However, LeBron should probably guard Parker in end of game/end of quarter situations, because either Tony or Tim are taking the last shot.
Other than LeBron, which Heat player scares you the most?
MR: Dwyane Wade. At the start of the game when He had that dunk, then made loves to the rim, I was like damnit, Wade is on a mission, he is going to make this HIS team once again. As the game went it seemed he did as well. He still scares me though. He may not seem to have his jumper but what he showed getting to the rim is where I can see him hurting us.
Outside of Parker and Duncan, who are you most afraid of for game two?
JB: Manu. That guy’s a killer. (Remember the three against the Warriors in Game 1?) He can pass, he can shoot, he can get to the foul line — in essence, he can create offense. Outside of Parker and Duncan, nobody else on the Spurs can do that.
Most underrated player in this series?
MR: I can see that the most underrated player in this series for Miami would have to be Chris Anderson. I cannot stand the dude but hell, he has the energy that the Miami Heat feed off of and he is a monster when it comes to rebounding. During game one there were times when I was yelling out, “BLOCK HIM OUT!” He was making it look too easy. For San Antonio, I feel that Danny Green would be the most underrated player in this series. Everyone can get caught up in what Tony, Tim and Manu do on the floor but it is what Danny Green can do that could help push San Antonio to their fifth ring.
Whom do you feel are the most underrated players for these two teams in this series?
JB: I’m gonna go with Tiago Splitter because nobody talks about Tiago Splitter (well, because he’s Tiago Splitter) but he’s going to be an important figure in this series. If he can effectively guard Chris Bosh (or Miami’s other big man, Udonis Haslem), that’s going to be a huge bonus on the defensive end. Also, he and Timmy are responsible for a big chunk of San Antonio’s rebounding — how he plays goes a long way to determining how effectively the Spurs play.
As you pointed out earlier, the Spurs have had a lot of rest. Do you think by Game 5 or 6 (or even before that), they start getting fatigued?
MR: You just had to bring up the fatigue factor didn’t you? Well you do know the San Antonio Spurs and when we start doing things out of character, lack of ball movement, taking quick shots, this is all due to that of getting tired. There will be a point in this series where the San Antonio Spurs legs will feel heavy, it will hit some players more, but I don’t know when I would expect them to show signs of it. With now being off until Sunday when game two tips, that gives us even more time to rest legs as well. But if I have to give when possibly game five is where we could possibly see it.
So prediction time. With the San Antonio Spurs up 1-0, taking that important first game in Miami, how do you see game two coming out and who steps up for each team?
JB: I think Miami rebounds with a victory in Game 2. They haven’t lost back-to-back playoff games this year, and I don’t think that’s about to change in Game 2. And, though this is no knock on the Spurs’ quality, I thought Miami lost Game 1 more than the Spurs won it (though, I’m sure, Tony Parker would disagree). So I think Miami gets it together, and wins Game 2 (and with some vengeance).
MR: I would not be surprised if the Miami Heat come out like gang busters and completely try to take the Spurs out of this game. Though, game one was not San Antonio’s best game. Miami was looking a little fatigued out there, possibly the Indiana Pacers series is finally getting to them. San Antonio will continue to play physical on LeBron and not let him dominate the game (even though he notched a triple0double) but will have him find his other teammates and have them shoot down San Antonio. After all that, I do feel that San Antonio has Miami where they want them after stealing game one and shocking the Miami Heat and their fans.
I want to thank you Jae for taking the time to talk with me on this series. For you Miami Heat fans, be sure to head over to All U Can Heat to check out Jae and his staff. They do a great job on covering everything Miami Heat. You can also follow him on twitter @jaebradley.