Observations from Game 1 Spurs victory over the Heat

Spurs fans have to be happy after Game 1, but we all know you can’t project out the entire series after one game. The NBA playoffs are all about adjustments as we saw in the Indiana series, and now we’ll see what Erik Spoelstra has planned for game 2.

– We’ve all seen Miami come back again and again after a tough loss, so we should expect to see some adjustments for Game 2. That said, San Antonio is much more experienced and consistent that the Pacers. They anticipate adjustments and can respond in kind. The Spurs will be tough to beat if they play like they did last night and start hitting their threes. That said, Lebron mysteriously stayed away from the post last night. Let’s see if Spoelstra adjusts the offensive game plan.

– Fatigue was a factor for Miami. Of course that has a lot to do with the Indiana series, but the Spurs know how to run a defense ragged. The aggressive Miami defense that often destroyed the Pacers in the half-court wasn’t as effective against an efficient Spurs team that had only four turnovers. It’s not a good sign that he had to ask Spoelstra for a breather at the end of the third quarter.

– Lebron played well last night, but he certainly wasn’t in “beast mode” against this defense. The Spurs clogged the lane and dared Lebron to dish to his teammates. They’re happy to watch Chris Bosh launch threes, especially in crunch time. We’ll see whether Lebron can find a way to take control. This series looks like a great challenge for him.

– If Lebron, Wade and Bosh all play well, Miami can beat anyone any night of the week. But Wade and Bosh have been inconsistent, and that creates huge problems for Miami. The Miami bench has also been erratic. Shane Battier was on fire last year, but this year he’s basically been benched in favor of Mike Miller, who is a huge liability on defense. Meanwhile, the Spurs are more disciplined, efficient and experienced. They’re also deep, and even though Spoelstra has established himself as a very good coach, Gregg Popovich is the best in the business. Tony Parker is clearly on his game, and Tim Duncan continues to play at a high level. Manu Ginobili has yet to get hot.

– Basically, the Heat have to play well to win this one. That may sound obvious, but the point is they can’t expect the other team to self-destruct at times in the face of their defense. Indiana played a great series and almost beat Miami, but they’re still young and erratic, and their offense would disappear at times. Frank Vogel did a great job, but he had no clue when to call a timeout against the Heat onslaught. Popovich doesn’t make those mistakes. He knows how to control a game and stop a run.

So let’s see how Miami responds. If history is a judge, the Spurs will have their hands full in game 2, not that they won’t be ready.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Chris Webber breaks it down for Erik Spoelstra [video]

He doesn’t start making sense until the 0:30 mark, but from that point on it’s a good monologue.

There’s no crying in the High Life!

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3), forward LeBron James (6), and forward Chris Bosh take a break during a time out in the second half of the opening night game against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on October 26, 2010. UPI/Matthew Healey

This series is sponsored by Miller High Life – The Official Beer Of You. Find out how you can get sponsored by Miller High Life.

After the Miami Heat’s loss to the Bulls on Sunday, head coach Erik Spoelstra mentioned that there were “a couple of guys crying there in the locker room.” Whether or not Spoelstra should have made that comment is irrelevant to the fact that the Miami Heat locker room is not living the High Life right now.

It’s natural for a man to shed a tear from time to time. When there’s a death in the family, when his favorite team loses the Super Bowl, the end of “Marley & Me” — these are all appropriate times for a man’s eyes to well up. But he doesn’t make a spectacle of it, and he certainly doesn’t do it after a regular season game.

If there were waterworks in the Heat locker room after the team lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals, it would be understandable. A long, arduous season has come to an end…in failure.

But this was one of 82 regular season games. Eighty-two! Will it affect their seeding in the playoffs? Maybe, but that is hardly a reason to blubber like a member of Oprah’s audience when she reveals she’s about to give away her “Favorite Things.”

A High Life man would channel his anger into motivation, and would make darn sure that his team didn’t lose their next game.

That way, his team could get back in the win column, and get back to living the High Life.

Terry Pluto offers to fix the Heat’s late-game problems

Miami Heat forward LeBron James watches the action from the bench in the first half against the Charlotte Bobcats in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, North Carolina on February 4, 2011. UPI/Nell Redmond

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says a simple play will fix the Miami Heat’s fourth quarter problems.

Any person with basic basketball knowledge realizes Miami could fix its late-game misery with a simple play. Wade dribbles the ball at the top of the key — and James sets a pick. Then James rolls to the basket, which will cause any defense major problems. Wade either has an open jumper, or James can catch a pass for a layup.

But as Cavs fans know, James rarely set picks. He loathes the pick-and-roll unless he has the ball. Over the years, he often waived off a pick and preferred to play 1-on-1 with four teammates watching in clutch situations.

He does the same with the Heat.

Pluto’s play probably isn’t going to work on a regular basis. Ball screens are typically big/small situations where a post player comes to set a screen for the ball handler, who is generally a guard. It’s set up this way because it makes it difficult/impossible for the two defenders to switch. If Erik Spoelstra implemented Pluto’s play, LeBron’s defender would simply switch to Wade (and Wade’s defender would switch to LeBron), and no advantage would be gained. That’s why you don’t often see ball screens with two similarly-sized offensive players.

That’s not to say that the Heat don’t need to do something different as the clock winds down. They do. But a LeBron/Wade ball screen is not the solution.

As Pluto mentions in the piece, the Heat are relying too much on clearing out for LeBron in end-of-game situations. I’d try a pick-and-roll with LeBron and Bosh on the wing, with LeBron heading back towards the the top of the key, while the other two Heat players set a double screen for Wade on the opposite side of the floor. That way, LeBron has three or four moves he could make. If Bosh’s man double-teams him, (1) he hits Bosh on the pop for a wide open 16-footer. If his man is slow to get through the ball screen, (2) he can penetrate into the lane looking to score or possibly (3) kick it out to a shooter in the opposite corner. He could also (4) hit Wade on the other wing, who should have an advantage when he catches the ball because his defender has to fight through a double screen.

The Heat would have to start this play with 10 or 12 seconds on the clock to give themselves enough time to make a few passes, but such action would take the predictability out of the Heat’s offense in end-of-game situations. They would be taking what the defense gives them instead of trying to force a long jumper or bulling their way into the lane.

When I put together our NBA Preview, I predicted the Heat would win the East and lose to the Lakers in the Finals. When we published our Year End Sports Review, I predicted the Celtics would upend the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now I’m not even sure they’ll get past the Knicks in a potential first round matchup and a semifinal series against the Bulls isn’t looking too good, either. That doesn’t mean that the Heat experiment is a categorical failure. It just means that it might take a year or two to get this thing working.

Did Erik Spoelstra go too far with “crying” comments?

Miami Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra argues a call on the sidelines during first quarter against the Chicago Bulls in NBA basketball action in Miami, Florida March 6, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

After the Heat’s 87-86 loss to the Bulls on Sunday, which marks their fourth straight defeat, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported the following:

In case you’re thinking that Spoelstra was misquoted, here’s the video of his post game presser.

On the surface, it appears that Spoelstra revealed that a couple of players were crying to illustrate his point that “it’s not a matter of want,” but there is some speculation that he was trying to call out his team for not being tough enough mentally.

I doubt he’s that nefarious. I suspect that he was trying to relay that his team is emotionally engaged and went too far with his words. In the video, you can see him pause before he mentioned the crying, almost wondering whether or not he should reveal that little tidbit.

So did he go too far? I’d say he did. A coach should have the trust of his players and vice versa. The locker room should be like Las Vegas — whatever happens there, stays there. He didn’t name names, but that might just make matters worse as every player on that roster might be guilty.

Guilty of what? It’s human to cry, right? Well, not so much. I cried once during my college basketball career and that was after my final game as a senior when we (surprisingly) lost a tournament game at home. The weight of the moment — that my days of competitive basketball player were over — reduced me to a blubbering idiot. I stuffed my face in a towel until I could get a hold of my emotions. It was an end of an era, my era, not some regular season loss. The Heat players shouldn’t be crying right now. They should be angry, and they should channel that anger into making sure that this four-game losing streak ends on Tuesday.

Maybe that was Spoelstra’s point. Or maybe he just lost whatever trust was left in that locker room.

Related Posts