“Miami played their ass off.”
Simple words from Gregg Popovich in the post game press conference, that accurately described Game 2 of the NBA Finals. There’s no words I can use to describe what happened in tonight’s contest. Actually, that’s not entirely true.
It sucked. It really (expletive) sucked.
The Spurs wasted a phenomenal game from Danny Green, who had 17 points on a perfect 6/6 shooting, 5/5 from downtown. They turned the ball over as many times as they had assists as a team (16). And they even wasted a 44-36 rebounding edge over the Heat.
LeBron James was shut down the entire first half, held to just four points and four assists, but the Spurs were still down five thanks to some very uninspired basketball. And the mistakes San Antonio made were pretty simple. The Spurs lack of execution paired with Miami’s increased intensity led to a complete disaster for the silver and black.
So many plays where the Heat would trap the ball handler, forcing the Spurs into tough passes and contested shots. It was nothing that we haven’t seen Miami do before, but what was so concerning was the feeling that San Antonio did nothing to stop it. By the time Pop tried to refocus the troops, it was too late. The Miami Heat became that elite ball club that won 66 games this season, including a beautiful 27-game win streak.
Analysts are so quick to point out that the Heat were 30th in rebounding this season, but rebounds don’t matter when your shooters are left wide open and view the basket as if it was as big as the ocean. Mike Miller had nine points off the bench, all three pointers, while Ray Allen added 13 with 3/5 shooting from beyond the arch.
Of course playing defense would’ve helped, and not turning the ball over nine times in the second half – compared to the Spurs four total turnovers in Game 1 – were some deciding factors. But Miami’s defense wasn’t just forcing turnovers. The Spurs couldn’t make anything. Even San Antonio’s uncontested shots weren’t falling. The trio of Parker, Leonard and Duncan were 12-for-39 (31%) for the game. Just look at San Antonio’s pedestrian shot chart for Game 2:
On mid-range jumpers, the Spurs shot 18%. EIGHTEEN. I’m speechless.
But there are no excuses for tonight’s performance. With 3:50 left in the third quarter, Danny Green drove into the lane and made a beautiful finger roll, that I’m sure George Gervin himself would’ve been proud of. The basket put San Antonio ahead 62-61. And 230 seconds later, the Heat took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter. That 10-point lead spurred a 33-5 run that urged Pop to bring in the human white flags of McGrady, Mills and Blair.
Regardless of the embarrassing performance, we must have perspective. The series now shifts to San Antonio for three straight games, in what is now a best of five series. Even though the Spurs only have one day off in between Games 2 and 3, maybe sleeping in their own beds and playing in their own arena will do them some good.
And though the Spurs have three straight at home, do not underestimate the importance of Game 3. Via Matthew Tynan’s Twitter: Since the NBA Finals went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, whoever wins Game 3 in a series tied at 1-1, has won the series 11 out of 12 times. Not to say a Spurs loss would doom them, but it would definitely kill some of San Antonio’s confidence.
So, no, there’s nothing wrong with tonight’s loss. Whether by 40 points or four points, it all equals to just one win (or loss). Besides, this is the NBA Finals. No one said it would be easy.
Go Spurs Go.