MIAMI — We all expected a team to come out in Game 4 playing desperate, knowing the series could be on the line, playing like this game meant everything.
We didn’t expect that team to be the Spurs.
San Antonio moved the ball, played smart and energetic defense, knocked down their shots (they shot 55.6 percent in the first half) and just outplayed a flat Miami Heat squad, leading 55-36 at the half.
Miami started out the game trying to get Chris Bosh touches, but their offense quickly devolved into a lot of pick-and-rolls or isolations with almost no weakside movement. The Spurs play smart, hard working defense seemed to contest everything — they were much sharper on defense than they were in Game 3 — but the Heat made it easy on them.
Miami shot 35.3 percent in the first half. Dwyane Wade looked old and like a guy with bad knees — he was getting in close but was 1-of-6 shooting inside 8 feet.
Miami’s lack of energy showed on both ends. They tried their usual trapping defense but when it’s done without real energy and intent the Spurs just shred it with passes. Defensively the Heat were not disrupting passing lanes, allowing Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw to get ball inside (or Tony Parker to drive it there) and pass out to shooters. The Heat close outs were those of a Tuesday night in February in Milwaukee, not the NBA Finals.
Parker had 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, Danny Green was 3-of-4 from three, and Patty Mills was 3-of-5.
The Spurs have owned the last six quarters of this series.
Erik Spoelstra got so desperate he went with Toney Douglas for a while to try and spark the team. It’s a sign he has no more answers.
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.
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.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.