San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game One

NBA Finals Spurs vs. Heat Game 2 preview: The return of the aggressive Heat

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MIAMI — The Spurs know what’s coming. Talking to them Saturday after practice they fully expect the Heat to come out much more aggressive, particularly on defense — Miami will trap, jump passing lanes and try to turn the Spurs over.

In Game 1 the Heat respected Tony Parker and didn’t try to trap him much off the pick and roll. Parker used that space to the tune of 21 points, six assists and zero turnovers. As a team the Spurs only turned the ball over four times. In Game 2 the Spurs staff expects the heat to try and use that athleticism to impose their will on the game and force more turnovers (then run off those mistakes).

That Heat pressure defense can overwhelm teams, but it also opens things up. If Parker and the other ball handlers can handle the pressure, make a smart pass out and the Spurs move the ball guys like Danny Green and Gary Neal are going to get clean looks at threes. Knock them down and you diffuse that pressure.

Don’t and the Heat can run you out of the building.

That’s not likely. Both sides also expected a close game.

“I expect another possession game,” Shane Battier said. “It’s going to be about possessions. It’s going to be about our ability to turn them over, our ability to capitalize on them. Our ability to keep them from the cheapies that they thrive off of and get so many of in their wins.

“And it’s going to come down to the fourth quarter again. It’s going to come down to execution, like it often does when two good teams play each other.”

Battier mentioned one other thing everybody knows (including the Spurs): After a loss Miami usually plays much better the next game. They come out with better energy and focus and every time since mid-January it has resulted in a win (that was the last time the Heat lost two in a row). Their role players usually step up, but this time the Heat will need Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to step up for four quarters, too.

“We’ve been pretty confident all year, regardless of the circumstances,” Ray Allen said. “We’ve been in pretty — based on basketball standards — dire situations where we had to come out and win. We taught ourselves different lessons throughout the year.”

What we as fans should be hoping for is another up-tempo, fun game that is played as cleanly and well as Game 1. That was fun basketball. This has the potential to be a long and very entertaining series.

But if the Heat don’t win this one and go down 0-2 heading to San Antonio for three games it might not last that long.

TNT to cover NBA games with only former players, no traditional play-by-play men

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends in the first quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.

The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.

Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.

Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.

Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.

James Harden presents fan with game ball on her 100th birthday (video)

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.

Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.

Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.

The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.

Paul George dunks on DeMarcus Cousins while getting whacked in the face (video)

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Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.

But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.

Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.