Spurs don’t need to adjust as much as you think for Game 3

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It wasn’t so much the plan as the execution of it.

Despite what the final score suggests, San Antonio did a number of things right in Game 2. They once again made things difficult for LeBron James — through two games he is averaging 17.5 points on 42.4 percent shooting. He started Sunday night 2-of-12 shooting. Yes, he’s getting boards and dishing out assists and blocking Tiago Splitter at the rim, but he is not dominating games like he is capable.

The Spurs also did a good job for most of the first seven quarters of this series taking away the transition baskets that fuel the massive Heat runs that no team can match. San Antonio has made a point of getting back and clogging the lane.

What failed the Spurs in Game 2 not design but the execution of the plan. They had 17 turnovers, and while the Heat cranked up their defensive pressure a lot of those were just bad passes and decisions by the Spurs. The kind they don’t normally make. When was the last time you saw Tim Duncan pass the ball into the first row? Don’t expect those same mental mistakes in Game 3.

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to shoot 10-of-33 on the night. Duncan and Parker can be expected to have better games going forward (Manu, we’re not so sold).

If the Spurs get back to executing like they know how, they will be right in Game 3. They are not going to change their defense much because they shouldn’t — you contain LeBron and make the other guys beat you. Tuesday night they did.

But there are a couple other things they need to get back to doing.

One key is they have to get back to attacking in the middle of the court. Tony Parker attacking from the top of the key and getting into the paint will break down any defense, including the Heat. But not only did Miami crank up its pressure it worked hard at controlling the middle of the court and pushing the Spurs wide. Chris Andersen was particularly good at blowing up Spurs plays. That pressure led to Danny Green threes but not enough points in the paint. San Antonio has to take back the middle of the court.

Another, they have to figure out the LeBron/Chalmers pick and roll. Miami did a good job of starting it’s pick-and-roll lower — below the free throw line if possible, often more in the elbow area — and that plus an attacking Mario Chalmers forced the Spurs to make quicker help decisions and the result was lanes to attack or passing lanes to Mike Miller and Ray Allen at the arc.

Miami is still going to get its points — this was the best offense in the NBA this past season. That LeBron guy is still pretty good. But if the Spurs take care of the ball then make a few more shots they can squelch those Heat runs and stay right in the game.

That’s what we should expect in Game 3.

Jared Dudley: Giannis Antetokounmpo practiced mean mugging in locker room

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Game 3 dunk over Aron Baynes was great.

Antetokounmpo’s Game 4 dunk over Al Horford (seen above) is even better, because of the fantastic mean mug that followed.

The rise of Antetokounmpo is no accident. He worked hard to develop his on-court skills. And that includes all aspects.

Suns forward Jared Dudley, who played with Antetokounmpo on the 2014-15 Bucks:

This is the inside info we need.

Report: Knicks are Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer’s top choice for job

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Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from the Suns coaching search, but that he was even involved with another opening while under contract with Atlanta is telling. It probably wasn’t about the Phoenix job being special. He’s also talking with the Knicks – and maybe that goes somewhere.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Mike Budenholzer is genuinely interested in the Knicks’ job, according to an NBA source who has spoken to the Hawks coach.

“New York’s his top choice,’’ the NBA source said. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.’’

“Phoenix and the Knicks are trying to win every game,’’ said the NBA source who has spoken to Budenholzer recently. “There’s a good chance Atlanta is not looking to win games the next two years. This wasn’t Mike’s decision. He didn’t expect it. He doesn’t want to lose games.’’

Going to the Knicks to win? What a time to be alive.

But the Hawks are only one year into what appears to be a multi-year rebuild. Relative to that, New York is ahead.

When Kristaps Porzingis returns is the biggest variable. But Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke are all in their primes. Atlanta is much thinner.

The Knicks would probably also offer Budenholzer a raise and the Hawks compensation. Though dealing with James Dolan carries downside, this could be a financial boon to everyone else involved. It’s no wonder Budenholzer and the Hawks are both into this.

The big question is whether New York, which is casting a wide net, tabs Budenholzer. He doesn’t have a clear connection to Knicks president Steve Mills or general manager Scott Perry. But Budenholzer is a demonstrably good coach, and that ought to matter plenty.

Andrew Bogut signs to play in NBL in native Australia

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Back in January, the Los Angeles Lakers waived Andrew Bogut. He had a very limited role on a Los Angeles team that was not making the playoffs, serving as a backup big man against teams who use a traditional center. That’s not much of a role anymore. He’s a center who can pass, shoot from the midrange a little, and knows where to be defensively, but the game has evolved as Bogut’s skills have faded. Bogut tried to latch on with a contender for the playoffs, but could not find a team to take him.

So he is going home.

Bogut is signing to play for the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL.

Bogut was the first No. 1 draft pick from Australia when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005. He made the All-Rookie team that season, was All-NBA in 2010, but may be best known for his role as a crucial part of the defense of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors in 2015 (and his injury during the 2016 Finals is an underrated reason Cleveland was able to pull off a miracle comeback).

At age 33 Bogut may not have a spot in the NBA, but in the NBL he both will thrive for a few more years but also be a huge draw and get the welcome home from fans that he deserves.

When Lance Stephenson gets a traveling call, he earns it (VIDEO)

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Yes, guys get away with traveling in the NBA. James Harden on the step back (sometimes, not always), or guys sliding left/right to avoid a closeout at the arc and not bothering to dribble while they do it.

Lance Stephenson got called for traveling Sunday in the Pacers’ loss to the Cavaliers. In a game where Stephenson got under the skin of LeBron James and drew a technical (and tied him up for a jump ball at one point), this was the best Lance highlight of the game. Because if you’re going to travel, you should go all in.

Never change Lance. Never change.