During the NBA Finals, Phillip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily will be contributing to Project Spurs during the San Antonio Spurs' chase for title number five.
San Antonio completed a Game One victory in come-from-behind fashion. There was not much to come from behind though, the game was played within 16 points the entire time. It was the kind of back-and-forth affair you expect from (nominally) the two best teams in the NBA.
If every game is like Game One, no one will be calling the San Antonio Spurs “boring” any time soon.
The Spurs had one major run in the entire game and it was the decisive one. San Antonio put together a 15-5 run in the fourth quarter to take an 88-81 lead with 2:14 left, the largest lead of the game for San Antonio in the game.
How did the Spurs do this?
It started with the Spurs getting to the basket. San Antonio scored six points on post-ups, layups and tip ins. In addition, San Antonio scored another two points off free throws.
The big thing absent during this quick run? Three-pointers. One Danny Green 3-pointer capped off the run and gave the Spurs a seven-point lead.
The key in this run was San Antonio’s defense. Miami shot 3 for 12 and committed four turnovers in this stretch. Further, the Spurs had two offensive rebounds. It was San Antonio’s interior which keyed the run.
Or maybe it was Miami’s inability to hit 3-pointers.
During this stretch of the game, the Heat missed all four of their 3-point attempts. The Spurs did a good job closing out on shooters and keeping the Heat from getting to the basket. Miami is a good 3-point shooting team when it is based off of James’ drive-and-kick ability.
The Heat undoubtedly rely on 3-point shooting for their offense. The idea is to spread the floor to give James and Wade driving lanes.
So when Miami shoots 2 for 10 from beyond the arc in the second half, you know Miami is having some problems offensively. Indeed, compared to 6-for-15 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half. Making 3-pointers helps boost Miami’s offense in a big way.
In the first half, Miami took a nine-point lead with a 7-0 run early in the second quarter. This run occurred in a 90-second stretch early in the quarter. And it came thanks to the Heat getting out on the break and getting those 3-point opportunities. Norris Cole had a 3-pointer to cap off that run. Miami entered that run and took the lead from San Antonio thanks to a 3-pointer from Mike Miller.
An earlier run from Miami – that 11-2 run in the first quarter – was sparked when Mario Chalmers hit a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout. Like it is during the regular season, the 3-pointer is both a calming influence and an exclamation point for the Heat.
Miami was clearly able to take control of the game when the team was confident taking 3-pointers. That slowly waned as the shots stopped falling in the second half and fourth quarter. San Antonio’s plan is quite clearly – Chris Bosh is still wide open – to clog the paint and force the Heat to make 3-pointers, taking the ball out of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s hands.
San Antonio quite clearly will be OK with James getting a triple double if it means he scores less than 20 points and Miami shoots 8 for 25 from beyond the arc. Maybe that will improve, maybe it will not.
The way both the Spurs and Heat are built, making and defending 3-pointers will be absolutely critical for this series.