Tag: Spurs Heat

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five

LeBron James with chase down, volleyball spike block on Patty Mills (VIDEO)


LeBron James and the Heat came out playing with the desperate energy they needed a couple of games before — he started out with 15 points on 5-6 shooting, including a couple of threes.

And this defensive chase down block into the third row on Patty Mills. That should earn LeBron a tryout for USA Volleyball.

Miami’s defensive energy was much better to start the game and that got them a lead all the way up to 14 in the first quarter. The question with them is if they can sustain the energy.

Ray Allen in starting lineup, Mario Chalmers to bench for Game 5

2014 NBA Finals - Game Four

As expected, Erik Spoelstra has gone to the Heat lineup that he started the second half of Game 4 with, a no point guard lineup.

Mario Chalmers has been benched and Ray Allen is starting for the Miami Heat.

Miami’s starting five is Allen, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh and Rashard Lewis. That lineup has played 9 minutes together in this Finals (they shot just 25 percent, but that’s a small sample size).

No changes for the Spurs who start Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan.

Erik Spoelstra looks for some way, anyway to get Heat to stamp “our identity” on Game 5

Erik Spoelstra

SAN ANTONIO — For the past 24 hours, when you’ve asked coach Erik Spoelstra or the Heat players what adjustments they need to make to bounce back from a 3-1 deficit against the Spurs, you get some variant of “we just need to do what we do better.” It’s not new lineups or new match ups — Game 5 Sunday night will be the 14th meeting between these teams since the start of last year’s Finals, these teams know each other.

It’s about execution and that’s what Erik Spoelstra said he has emphasized in the last 48 hours.

“We met yesterday and talked about our approach for the next 24 hours,” Spoelstra said before Game 5. “We had a good day of work the day before that. We had a good day off to clear our minds, and this is about bringing our best game of the series….

“We’re looking to start better, but regardless of what happens, we have to find a way in this game. And we need consistent minutes where we’re imposing our identity on this game, which we’ve yet to do for an entire game.”

Maybe that is because they are coming out of a soft Eastern Conference, where they didn’t have to play at their peak for 48 minutes to advance. Maybe it’s because this is Game 14 between these teams since the start of last year’s Finals and San Antonio has gotten used to the pressure and style of the Heat.

Whatever the reason, this is not the first adversity the Heat have faced and this gives Spoelstra confidence.

“I love being in the trenches with this group when you’re in situations like this,” Spoelstra said. “You reveal your character. You real what you’re made out of when you’re facing adversity. Everybody can bid in the situation that the Spurs are in right now. It’s much more revealing when you’re in a situation like this how you respond, individually or collectively. How do we respond in a game like this? I love bing in the locker room with these guys in these situations.”

We will see what the Heat locker room is like after this game. That also could be telling.

Chris Bosh: “Plain and simple we’re going to win this game”

Chris Bosh

If you expected the two-time defending champions to just roll over down 3-1 to the Spurs heading into Game 5 Sunday night, well, I’m not sure what team you’ve been watching the last two years. They often need their backs against the walls for motivation.

Chris Bosh wouldn’t go the full Joe Namath and guarantee a win in Game 5 Sunday night, but he came about as close as you can expect speaking to Sekou Smith of NBA.com’s Hangtime Blog.

“We’re not going down,” he said. “So we’re going to win this game tonight … plain and simple we’re going to win this game….

“I don’t care about any guarantees we’re just going to win this game,” Bosh said. “Take it how you want it.”

What else do you expect him to say? “We plan on getting thrashed just like the last two games, we expect this will be over by halftime?”

The Heat are a proud team and one the Spurs had two games to eliminate last season and couldn’t do it. It will be three games this year and the way the teams are playing it feels like a longer shot, still you have to expect they will put up a fight in Game 5.

We’ll see if that’s enough.

NBA Finals Game 5 preview, Heat at Spurs: Miami tries to put River Walk party on hold

LeBron Hames, Dwyane Wade

SAN ANTONIO — The Miami Heat were relaxed.

The day after a Game 4 loss that left them bewildered Ray Allen spent the day on a bike ride, going 14 miles or so from his Coral Gables home, picking up some lunch along the way, just getting outside and clearing his head. The rest of the Heat did something similar, whatever it was it was not basketball. Friday they took a day off.

Miami is down 3-1, on the brink of elimination at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs heading into Sunday night’s Game 5, but when they showed up in San Antonio Saturday afternoon they were surprisingly relaxed and confident.

Last year they faced two elimination games in the Finals against the Spurs, yet won them both. This year it will take three in a series that feels different after San Antonio won the last two games convincingly. But the Heat acted like a team that has been through plenty of adversity and been to four straight Finals. They acted like they have been there before.

That means either they have found their groove, their energy that they can bring for 48 minutes this time, that they are ready to fight for this series.

Or they are resigned to their fate.

“Why not us?” LeBron James asked. “History is broken all the time. And obviously we know we’re against the greatest of odds. No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, but there was a point where no team came back from a 2-0… There was a point where no team came back from a 31 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, and then Phoenix did it. One of our teammates was on that team, James Jones….

“So history is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it? That would be great.”

“What we talked about is we’re not so entitled or jaded that we’re above having to fight for it, and that’s what it is right now,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said.

As it has been throughout this series, the questions for Miami in Game 5 at the defensive end — their pressure and rotations have not been able to keep up with the Spurs ball movement.

“Regardless (of how we played the pick-and-roll) it felt like we were a step slow on all our rotations, closing out to the three point, the low man getting to the big on the rolls,” Rashard Lewis said. “We was just always late, they were a step faster.”

Even when Miami did make the right rotations it didn’t matter — San Antonio shot 64.7 percent on contested shots in Game 4, 61.5 percent in Game 3 (stats via the NBA’s player tracking SportsVU cameras). San Antonio just is not missing.

One thing Miami is counting on to come back is a regression to the mean — San Antonio can’t keep shooting like this, can they? No, not over a long stretch of games they couldn’t, but that’s also not what the Spurs need. They just need one more.

Miami’s problem is after 13 games between these teams since the start of last year’s Finals the Spurs have grown accustomed to and comfortable with the Heat defense — Miami tries to use their athleticism to overwhelm, force turnovers and rushed shots. The Spurs have seen it — and they saw the same tactics from Dallas and Oklahoma City these playoffs — and it doesn’t faze them anymore. Plus, an older, banged-up Miami team doesn’t dial up the same pressure it did the past couple playoffs.

In the face of that pressure the Spurs no longer lose their offensive balance and unpredictability — all five guys are live, all five guys are a threat on every play.

“Everybody’s dangerous on our team,” Boris Diaw explained. “Everybody can score at any time. It’s not like a pattern, like some times you do scouting on a team and you say ‘Who’s the head of the snake, who’s the guy who’s going to score?’ You keep them from scoring and you’re going to win the game. With us it’s a little bit different, anybody can score on any given night. You saw that during the whole regular season. One night Patty Mills is the leading scorer on our team, some times it’s Danny (Green), sometimes it’s Tony (Parker), sometimes it’s Manu (Ginobili), sometime’s it’s Tim (Duncan). It can be anyone.”

Tony Parker leads the Spurs in scoring in the Finals averaging 18.5 points a game on 50.9 percent shooting — those are not gaudy numbers. The Spurs have talent — Tim Duncan is arguably the greatest power forward ever to play the game, Kawhi Leonard is a Finals MVP favorite exploding on the scene, Manu Ginobili just keeps making plays — but they all put their ego aside for the team.

When you asked Miami players what they need to do differently you got variations of their standard answer — we just need to do what we do better. We likely will see some rotation changes — Ray Allen started the second half of Game 4 and expect he starts Game 5, we also could see some Shane Battier — but the fact is Miami’s depth is limited. Plus guys they count on to step up, Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen in particular, have not. That’s not even mentioning Dwyane Wade aging before our eyes and Chris Bosh needing to be more aggressive when he gets his chances. It’s pretty much been LeBron James against the world, and no team ever won the Larry O’Brien trophy that way. Just like no team has ever come from 3-1 down in the Finals to win.

“But you can’t start thinking about two games ahead, three games ahead, all of that,” Spoelstra said on Saturday. “It’s just about tomorrow.”

If the Heat don’t there will be a parade down the River Walk just a few tomorrows after that.