Preseason: Miami Heat 104, San Antonio Spurs 101
With Tim Duncan’s ceremonial pregame ball hug lasting only a few seconds, and the more extravagant theatrics of LeBron James sidelined with general soreness and fatigue, there stood little chance of breaking the NBA’s new pregame rules.
If only we could expedite the preseason as quickly.
Duncan took a turnover coast-to-coast with a foul tacked on at the end the only moment the 36-year old center was even slightly contested. The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat combined for 45 turnovers. Gregg Popovich went with lineup combinations featuring 6-9 Josh Powell as the tallest player on the court. And the only rooting interest at the end of the game was to avoid overtime.
In short, it was a preseason game. And with no coherent storyline to extract from the muddled mess of turnovers and mad scientist lineups, let’s jump to a bullet list of things that caught my eye:
- When Gregg Popovich announced a desire to return to the defensive mindset of yesteryears, I doubt allowing 62 points on 57 percent shooting in the first half is what he had in mind. More disturbing was the 13-27 shooting they allowed from three-point territory—with enough corner three-pointers to make a stat geek cringe. Corner threes should not be so readily available with so few passes, especially sans LeBron James.
- Dwyane Wade, today, looks to have the best Eurostep in the game if only because he is more explosive and has more elevation with it.
- Boris Diaw is a perfect safety valve for a point guard facing hard hedges and traps on a pick and roll. On many teams, forcing the ball handler to retreat would force an offense to reset. But Diaw acts as an extension of the point guard, making a quick and proper decision to take advantage of the resulting 4-on-3 situation before the hedging big can recover.
- Whether it be with Duncan, Tiago Splitter, or Eddy Curry, Diaw running a high-low is a thing of beauty.
- With that in mind, “Diaw feeds Eddy Curry” is probably my favorite Tweet ever.
- Before the game the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald stated the last roster spot was likely down to Curry and Derrick Bown. Curry logged a little over seven minutes to Brown’s DNP and acclimated himself well according to his strengths (post scoring). Rebounding is obviously still an issue (one rebound), but one that can be mitigated some in lineups featuring Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson. While Brown offers more defensive versatility, offensively he lacks a position and defensively Leonard and Jackson replicate some of what he can do. Curry has the more unique skill set and thus has my powerless vote.
- Nando De Colo is a fan favorite but likely remains a summer of work on his jumper away from being a rotation player. He passes with flair and function, but even the best passers have to present a threat to provide their own offense to be valuable if they’re lacking defensively.
- Tiago Splitter had a nice run, but his value drops precipitously if his ability to convert free throws doesn’t return to last year’s regular season marks. Without remarkable improvement defensively, it’s the difference between him being an average and really good rotation piece for the Spurs.