MIAMI — The Miami Heat gave 102.9 points per 100 possessions in the regular season, not spectacular (11th in the NBA) but not bad. In the NBA Finals they are giving up 116.4 to the red-hot Spurs.
San Antonio allowed a true shooting percentage of .523 (think of that as points per shot attempt), the Miami Heat are at .607 in the NBA Finals.
Part of that is these are two elite NBA offenses, but for both coaches the problem is their defuse and that is what they are focused on for Game 4 Thursday night.
“That’s what we spent all of our time on was the defense, because I thought we did a pretty mediocre job,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game.
Eric Spoelstra talked about defense as well and recognizing they need to handle the pick and roll differently depending on if it is Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili with the ball.
They’re different, yeah, there is no question about it,” Spoelstra said. “But they’re both elite, great players. You do have to give them different looks. If it’s the same look, they get comfortable, then they can carve you up….
“You see the difference in their ability, how they attack, what they’re looking for, how they’re trying to facilitate, those type of things.”
That defense, particularly from the Heat, is what this series comes down to — can they bring enough energy to their pressure tactics, can sharper rotations slow the impressive ball movement of the Spurs? If the Heat can do that — as they have done for stretches but not consistently in this series — they can even things up and make this a best of three (the Spurs currently lead the series 2-1).
If the Spurs move the ball, get the good looks and knock them down again enough to take Game 4, this series will be all over but the party on the River Walk.