Tag: Heat Spurs Game 1


Television ratings dip from last season for Game 1 of NBA Finals


Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Spurs and Heat drew 14.2 million viewers, easily winning the television ratings for the night for ABC.

But that number is off 12 percent from last season when the Heat were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder (that drew 16.2 million), and it is down slightly from the 2011 finals when the Heat faced the Dallas Mavericks (15.2 million).

However, the game’s ratings did beat the six years before that, going back to 2004 and the Shaq/Kobe Lakers.

Why the decrease? Well, the Spurs have just never been a big national draw, for one. Also, there may be some fatigue with the Heat — a lot of people tuned in to root against LeBron James and Miami, but that seems to be tempered since they won last year.

Ratings for games generally climb throughout a series. Game 1 of these finals was very entertaining so we may see a big jump.

NBA Finals legacy battle: Spurs try to solidify theirs, Heat try to build one

Tin Duncan 1999

When the NBA Finals tip off Thursday night legacies will be on the line.

The Miami Heat have made no bones about it since the day LeBron James and Chris Bosh said they were joining Dwyane Wade in South Beach — they want to be one of the best teams ever. But they need to hang banners to do that. Not one, not two….

The San Antonio Spurs already have a legacy of winning — four titles between 1999 and 2007. One of the best teams of its generation, led by all-time great power forward Tim Duncan and the fantastic Gregg Popovich. Yet while we give lip service to that idea, the Spurs are overshadowed because they are steady and fundamental — they don’t bring the highlights of Kobe Bryant, the drama of Kevin Garnett and the Celtics. They don’t sell themselves like Lob City. It’s not a show. They get overshadowed. Yet they just win, and you couldn’t ignore a fifth championship in 14 years.

This year’s NBA Finals isn’t just about trying to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy and having a parade. It’s about how each of these teams — and their best players — will be thought of a decade from now and beyond. Winning changes it for both.

Only one franchise has been able to repeat as champions since Michael Jordan retired — Kobe’s Lakers (once with Shaq, once without). If the Heat win a back-to-back titles by knocking off the Spurs then we can start to discuss just how good they were — three straight trips to the finals, two straight rings. (And if they can win a third, then they really reach a new level.)

LeBron will undoubtedly have two finals MVPs if the Heat win, and with that he keeps climbing the tiers up to the all-time greats.

We really should think of the Spurs as already being on those upper tiers. Tim Duncan is regularly mentioned s the greatest power forward ever to play the game. They have four rings

Yet that’s not the common perception of the Spurs — we never mention them with the legends of the game. They are so solid, so reliable, so sound that we take them for granted. We overlook them because they rely on smart passes and not alley-oops made for highlights. Television ratings suggest nobody goes out of their way to watch them, when really basketball fans should savor them. They play a smart, elegant game we will miss someday.

Instead they get ignored. But you couldn’t ignore Duncan’s fifth ring. He has to get talked about with Kobe in the “greatest of his generation” conversation.

That is what this comes down to — the chance to solidify a legacy on one side, the chance to really start building one on the other.

One of these two teams is going to take another big step into the history books in these Finals. However it ends.

PBT Extra: Spurs vs. Heat NBA Finals preview

Tony Parker Miami Heat San Antonio Spurs

And then there were two…

Kay Adams and I talk NBA Finals: Can the Spurs big men cause the same problems to the Heat the Pacers’ bigs did? Are the Spurs rested or Rusty? And can Kawhi Leonard have any real success guarding LeBron James?

To me, the real key to this series is how Tony Parker and the Spurs guards deal with athletic, pressure defense the Heat bring. Can they exploit the trapping defense of the Heat with their ball movement and movement off the ball?

And of course, there is a prediction.

Spurs certainly are rested, but are they rusted?

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Four

Back in 2001, the Lakers finished off a sweep of the Spurs 111-82 on May 27. Then they had to sit around with nine days off until Game 1 of the Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Those Lakers lost just one playoff game that season (15-1) — that first game after the long layoff. It was a combination of a rusty Shaq, Kobe (7-fof- 22) and the rest of the Lakers, and a 48-point outburst from Allen Iverson.

The San Antonio Spurs finished off the Memphis Grizzlies in a sweep on May 27, and just like those Lakers they off until June 6, waiting for a winner out of the East (it eventually was the Heat). The exact same break those Lakers had.

Will they come out rested or rusted?

Some rest is certainly good for a banged up Spurs team. For example, Manu Ginobili told the San Antonio Express News this is the best he has felt since training camp.

“Now, to tell you the truth, I even forgot about what happened during the season,” he said. “I am feeling good now, we are in the Finals, who cares (about previous injuries)? No one’s going to remember I missed 20 games during the regular season.”

The Spurs had at least a week off in 1999, 2005 and 2007 — all years they won they opening game of the Finals and went on to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. It doesn’t bother them much.

Still, there could be rust. The Spurs are going to go from inactivity to facing one of the most aggressive and athletic defenses in the league in the Heat — they trap, they jump passing lanes and they use their athleticism to force turnovers.

The Spurs, with their ball movement and movement off the ball, might have the perfect antidote for that style, but after nine days off to jump right back in against this Heat defense will be an adjustment. You can’t simulate what the Heat do in practice.

Even if it takes just a half to get their flow back, which may put San Antonio in a hole they can’t dig out of in Game 1. Just something to watch.

This isn’t 2007 — LeBron, Spurs both very different than last finals meeting

Tim Duncan LeBron James

This isn’t the first time Tim Duncan and the Spurs stood in the way of LeBron James and what he sees as his destiny to be one of the game’s all time greats.

Back in 2007 LeBron dragged his Cavaliers squad to the Finals, only to be just carved up by the Spurs winning their third title of the decade. It was a team and a player in very different places. After it was all over, Duncan said this according to Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

“This is going to be your league in a little while. I appreciate you giving us this year.”

Six years later, it is LeBron’s league (as much as it is anyone’s). But he’s different. And the Spurs are different.

That makes 2013 very, very different than 2007.

LeBron actually scores less now than he did six years ago — 27.3 points a game then to 28.6 now — but he is vastly more efficient. Six years ago he shot 47.6 percent and he got most of that in transition of slashing to the rim. He was a terrible jump shooter and teams (including the Spurs in those Finals) played off him and dared him to shoot.

Do that now and LeBron’s strong jumper will destroy you. He shot 56.5 percent this season and 40.6 percent from three (his true shooting percentage, which includes compensation for threes and free throws, so it’s like points per possession, jumped from a good 55.2 percent back then to a ridiculous 64 percent).

LeBron says it’s not just him that’s better — and he’s right about that.

“I think our team is more experienced, first of all,” LeBron said, speaking in his press conference after Game 7 against the Pacers. “My Cleveland team, we were very young, and we went up against a very experienced team, well-coached team. And they took advantage of everything that we did.”

This is a radically different team around LeBron. Those Cavaliers relied on LeBron for everything and hoped Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden could pitch in enough. These Heat may have struggled some in the playoffs but Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen make up a much more dangerous core.

But this is also a very different Spurs team.

Then it was the big three at their peak — Duncan led the team in scoring and rebounding, 20 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. Tony Parker pitched in 18.6 points a game at age 24, Manu Ginobili was 16.5 points. Then it dropped off the map as there were role players — Michael Finley, Brent Barry and Bruce Bowen among others.

Six years later, this is Tony Parker’s team — he drives the offense scoring 20.6 points a game and adding 7.6 assists a game. As the big three got old Gregg Popovich turned the offense over to Parker and what you got was a better, more balanced attack — six guys average double figures a game. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green get their points in the flow of the offense, but Duncan is still a serious threat (17.6 points a game in a renaissance, healthy year for him).

What changed — and then returned to form — for San Antonio is defense. Back in 2007 they allowed 99.9 points per 100 possessions, second best in the NBA. At subsequent years they fell back to a pedestrian 11th in the NBA, but this season they allowed a third best 101.6.

Now the question comes: Can they slow the improved and more versatile LeBron? They did it six years ago, but that was a very different LeBron with a very different team around them. Of course, this is a very different Spurs team, too.