Preseason: Miami Heat 104, San Antonio Spurs 101

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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.
  • DorieStreet

    So——–what did anyone take from Saturday afternoon’s game? (I did not see it.)

  • assistman

    That any team surrounding LBJ with bombers Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier, and Mike Miller is going to be nearly impossible to unseat next June. I found myself wishing San Antonio had been able to slot Lewis into Bonner’s role this summer, but alas, no. (That said, the real miss of the summer was on Omar Asik.) Other than that, a preseason game in which Josh Harrellson looks like the much better player than Josh Powell.

  • http://twitter.com/blanchard48moh Jesse Blanchard

    To say the Spurs missed out on Asik is to assume they ever had a shit. I’m sure they would’ve loved to have him. But they lacked the cap space.

  • shockog88

    I don’t see why we can’t keep Curry,and Brown while getting rid of Bonner. We have enough three point shooters and Bonner has hit his ceiling. He disapears in the playoffs every year and big men around the league cannot wait til he attempts the guard them. Curry and Brown have a better upside and will contribute more. I would even say if there was a way to keep Powell I would do that to but our roster would stand at 15.

  • http://twitter.com/slapdoghoops Jeffrey Thompson

    I think that you undervalue Tiago Splitter too much. He has shown already last season that he can play at an elite level averaging close to 10 points and six boards a game in under 20 minutes per game. Let’s not forget him shooting .620 from the field and average a little over a blocked shot per game. I’m sure many team will love to have such a player like that so I think you need to hold your tongue when talking about Tiago.

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  • Leben

    You’re absolutely right in your assessment of Diaw as a safety valve. If it continues, teams will be less likely to trap Parker off the PnR, which will allow Tony to turn that corner w/ alacrity.

  • Bob

    It worked well in the Clippers series. Why in the world did the Spurs go away from it when the Thunder started trapping Parker?