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Two adjustments for Spurs heading into Game 5

The sky is not falling — last time I checked. The Earth is spinning on its axis and the Bobcats are still bound to their couches during the postseason. Everything is still OK.

San Antonio split two games at Oracle, which should be deemed a success even if it entailed coughing up a six-point lead with 5:46 remaining in Game 4. The pressure wasn't completely alleviated but advancing to the Western Conference Finals is still an even-money bet. A couple of adjustments here and there could spell victory for the San Antonio Spurs tonight.
 
Develop secondary action
 
An offense with one option isn't very formidable; any competent defense, buoyed by intelligent defenders with deft knowledge of timing and space, can and will tear apart a one-dimensional attack. The Spurs, uncharacteristically, operated as one such offense in Game 4. Rather than rely on Tim Duncan to precipitate more efficient options elsewhere, San Antonio was content to dump the ball in to the post.

 
In doing so, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli went into foul trouble, forcing Mark Jackson to audible to the sparingly used Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson. But it bears noting; Duncan missed 15 of 22 shots, and didn't have many easy looks at the rim. San Antonio needs to limit the wear and tear on Timmeh. Freeing him on pin downs and the like, instead of merely trying to create down low, and making a concerted effort to get open away from the ball may give the Spurs a better chance of scoring points, rather than whittling the potential of the offense to one option, regardless of how reliable that option usually is.
 
Make free throws
 
A lot of times winning in the NBA simply means putting the ball in the basket often and preventing the opposition from doing the same. In each game of this series, the team with the highest effective field goal percentage, accounts for the added value of a 3-point shot, has won. The Spurs were basically horrible everywhere in Game 4, shooting 39.3 percent on 2-pointers, 25.9 percent on 3-pointers and 56 percent from the line, their second-lowest mark of the season. These abominable numbers come from the second most proficient regular season shooting team, of course. 
 
Turning some of these misses into makes — an arbitrary analysis, I know — and the Spurs likely hold a commanding 3-1 series lead today. But just average shooting, namely on free throws will add a ton on the margins, perhaps as much as six points. Danny Green and Manu Ginobili combined for 0-4 shooting at the strike, a number that doesn't jive with their normal shooting. To put the Spurs shooting into perspective: the last time San Antonio shot this terribly, from every part of the floor, was in a loss to the Seattle Supersonics in 1997 according to research gathered by the San Antonio Express-News' Dan McCarney. It was pretty fortunate that they even had a chance to blow the game. 

 

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