Spurs' Parker, Duncan, and Ginobili sit on the bench during their loss to the Heat in Game 2 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami

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

20 Comments

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.

Spurs demolish Thunder to take Game 1 of second-round series

SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 30: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs scores over Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the Western Conference Semifinals for the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 30, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. 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 Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Getty Images
7 Comments

The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.

Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?

Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.

It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.

Hawks get another playoff shot at King James and Cavaliers

at Philips Arena on April 1, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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.
Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.

Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.

Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.

The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.

Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.

Report: Warriors to replace Luke Walton from outside the organization

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 12: Interim Coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors talks on the sideline during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 12, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 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 Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.

Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.

Report: Luke Walton’s Lakers contract is for 5 years, $25 million

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13:  Interim head coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors leads the team against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on January 13, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Warriors 112-110. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
12 Comments

In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.

This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.