Boris Diaw didn't play a single minute in the San Antonio Spurs' 113-77 victory in Game 3. He was the only Spur that didn't leave the bench.
His first action in Game 4
came with 3:15 remaining in the second quarter. Miami held a 45-38 lead. The Heat retained possession on a jump ball and Diaw drew Dwyane Wade on the perimeter. Wade skirted by Diaw on a quasi pick-and-roll with Chris Bosh, who barely made contact on the screen, and found him for an easy lay up.
On the ensuing possession, Tim Duncan lofted a contested 19-footer and Diaw tussled for offensive rebounding possession, forcing Wade to throw an errant elbow. The referees called the foul and Diaw made both free throws on a broken possession.
Following a botched reverse lay up from Norris Cole, Diaw ran the length of the floor and situated himself in the left corner. Tony Parker received a screen from Duncan on the left wing, Bosh and Ray Allen planted themselves in the paint to deter the penetration, and Parker fired a pass to Diaw in the corner. Instead of forgoing the open 3-pointer, his usual shooting protocol, Diaw launched a 3-pointer that landed in the net gracefully. It was a rare occurrence; Diaw has only made 11 corner 3-pointers all season, per NBA.com.
He wasn't done. With about 1:35 remaining, and the Heat having successfully blocked off the Spurs' first and second options, Diaw set a bruising screen on the unsuspecting Cole, freeing Parker for an acrobatic right-handed lay-up finish.
Wait, there's more.
Cole drove into the teeth of the Spurs defense, this time with around 17 seconds left in the first half. Kawhi Leonard got his huge hands on the shot, and the ball caromed right to Diaw. Diaw quickly initiated a two-on-one fastbreak with Danny Green, and two passes later the Spurs had another easy bucket.
In just three minutes and 15 seconds, the Spurs erased a nine-point lead to enter the half knotted at 49 points a piece. Diaw finished with nine points (3 of 6 shooting) and three boards in 11 minutes. San Antonio lost but Duncan admired Diaw's aggression.
"Boris played well," Duncan said. "He moved the ball well. He's kind of a pass-first guy. But he did a great job of attacking once he caught the ball in the pick-and-rolls, getting into the middle, made some good passes, made a couple of shots for us. The time he was in there he made a difference. So we'll see the adjustments we make. We'll watch film and make some adjustments for the next game and come out and see what happens."
Being a Spurs rotation player isn't always the most desirable position. Gregg Popovich can eradicate you from the rotation completely one night and trust you with high-leverage minutes the following game. It's a precarious position to be in for some players, and it's difficult to be positive in those instances. Diaw didn't complain, and he capitalized on his opportunity. That's all you can do.