For NBA fans, this time of year is bittersweet.
The greatest Finals matchup imaginable is here, but the end of the year is just two weeks away. Let’s not think too much about that at this point, and focus on what’s at stake; the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Wow, now I’m starting to sound like a coach or player addressing the media.
Thursday’s Game 1 was an aberration. The air conditioning in AT&T Center would have to be manually tampered with in order to shut down again, and we know extreme temperatures are a fountainhead for cramps. American Airlines Arena won’t have the same issue, bet your bottom dollar on that.
That doesn’t take away from the fact the San Antonio Spurs were able to catch fire and shoot 87.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Miami’s defense completely fumbled, lost all communication, and fell on its face. The lack of rotations on pick-and-roll defense down the stretch, and not realizing the Spurs’ personnel (Danny Green) could catch fire at any time, was alarming.
Losing James, who is clearly your leader offensively and defensively, is tough. Without question, it forces you to react on the fly, and drastically change your matchups. All of a sudden, you don’t have the guy that’s the best at disrupting passing lanes, defending entry passes to Tim Duncan, and getting out on the break if you force turnovers.
However, Miami still had an 11-year veteran on the floor. Two, for that matter. Dwyane Wade picked up the responsibility once James hit the bench in the last 7:00 of play, and connected on a tough mid-range pull-up to extend the Heat’s lead.
Then, all chaos broke lose, and Miami had zero answers.
In the final four minutes of the game — with James getting treatment on the sidelines — Wade attempted just two shots, and neither were good looks.
The first, a vintage pump-fake “try to get fouled by jumping into the shooter” attempt over Ginobili. That came at the 3:32 mark, and James knew in his gut this game was a wrap without him able to make a difference. Just take a look at the disgust:
The second Wade attempt, came at the 1:14 mark, when it was already swelled to a 10-point deficit. Both shots fell short, and there was no offensive attack in between. Wade, in many ways, can be just as dangerous offensively as LeBron. You can’t come up empty on the big stage in the fourth, and Wade knows that more than anyone. He’s won a title without LeBron, by carrying Miami. You can only expect a better performance on Sunday.
Game 2 is on San Antonio’s home floor again, and Miami is patiently waiting for their homecourt next week. However, they need to head to South Beach tied 1-1 in the series, and here’s why: