San Antonio Spurs 125, Miami Heat 95: The Spurs have been around longer than the Heat, and it showed

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AT&T Center–In the Miami Heat locker room before the game, on the white board coaches like to put together with pre-game notes for players, Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra asked his team a question: Where do we stand?

Among the list of keys to the game, along with strategic things like denying three-point shooters open looks and swarming Tim Duncan, was a call to show resolve when things were not going well, trust under pressure, and play with enthusiasm.

The Miami Heat literally did none of those things, letting Manu Ginobili score on the opening tip on their way to a 36-12 first quarter deficit and a 30-point loss.

Where do the Heat stand? The same place as where they started when the Decision trio first united, as an undeniably dominating collection of talent hastily thrown together with scraps, that is still learning how to deal with adversity.

“We need this adversity. I’ve learned that the quickest way to bring change in this league is through adversity,” Spoelstra said before the game. “Those events, as long as they don’t break you, can fast track you towards what you want to do.”

These San Antonio Spurs have seen those battles and fought those fights, having long ago proven themselves a hundred times over. In a question of talent versus chemistry, chalk tonight up to the team that wasn’t practically  just assembled yesterday.

As LeBron James pointed out before the game, the players on the Heat have played plenty of close games, but this is the first go around that they have played them as a team. The difference in experience is noticeable.

“They know exactly what you’re going to do defensively. Whatever you do or whatever you try and take away, they have a counter for,” James said. “You take away the roll on the pick-and-rolls and they’ll hit the guy in the corner for the three. Take away the threes and they hit the guy going to the rim.

“They’ve seen every situation and they’ve seen every defense, and right now they’re just clicking on all cylinders,” he added. “Everyone on their team has confidence. They all believe that when they get the ball they can make a play to help their team.”

You can accuse LeBron James of many things, but you cannot question his basketball intelligence–his assessment is spot on. Of the eight rotation players that played (Antonio McDyess was given the night off), every single one of them reached double digits in scoring.

Manu Ginobili was the catalyst once again, scoring 11 of his 20 points in the first quarter, and seven assists. He and Parker (15 points and eight assists in a surprise start) might not be the top five players that LeBron James and Dywane Wade are, but they do enough to open up the games of the rest of their teammates.

And while Tony Parker was passing to Richard Jefferson who was driving and kicking to Matt Bonner for an open three-pointer, or Neal was passing up an open three-pointer of his own to find Bonner for a better look, or Bonner was catching a pass out of a Ginobili pick and roll (Bonner was open a lot), the Heat were a mess.

When adversity struck, it was LeBron James and Dywane Wade going one against the world, each picking up two fouls apiece in the first quarter, each of them on offensive fouls.

At times they’re talented enough individually to put together successful runs in stretches, as they did in getting the lead back within 10 in the first half behind LeBron James’ 15-point second quarter outburst.

But the singular approach eventually gave the Spurs something to focus their defense on, while the Heat defensive rotations were three, sometimes four steps behind where the Spurs were moving the ball.

“We were really focused,  starting the game strong defensively and offensively,” Ginobili said. “That gave us a lead pretty quick and that really got us going. We were feeling great, shots were falling, and of course when that happens, everything becomes easier.

“We know they jump out on pick-and-rolls hard and were were trying to move the ball, find the open teammate, and we did that great.”

Spoken like a man who has been there before.

 

  • Colin

    Hey, there was a Trade TP sighting.

  • betsyduncan

    Sorry, Colin, but I think I read that Pop will retire when MANU does (or maybe Tony?). It will be a very sad day when Pop ‘hangs ‘em up’, at least for me.
    My theory is that we did so poorly against Memphis because (among other things, GHill included) Brewer hadn’t ‘landed’ yet.
    Anyway, the game last night was a lovely sight to behold. I just hope that we will see that same kind of focus and flow against the Fakers tomorrow!

  • Colin

    @betsyduncan

    Duncan/Ginobili…..whatever. I have a hard time seeing those two playing without each other on the roster.

    Brewer? He’s no difference-maker………At least not compared to what we already have.

  • betsyduncan

    @Colin, I meant that perhaps the guys were a bit ‘distracted’ about the Brewer scuttlebut: “will he, won’t he” (crash the party)? Like many of us, I think our guys like who they have on the bench/floor. No ‘tinkering’ needed!

  • Titletown99030507

    For those of you that feel Splitter and Quinn should have been moved because they can’t contribute all your saying is that you know more than Pop and what his plans are for this team. What else are you going to get for splitter without spending more than 1 mil. Besides its not even trade value. You cheerleaders think you know everything. I’ve bitched about that in that other forum in the 1st quarter of the season and got crucified for it. So I gave in and accepted that Pop really knows what he’s doing by sticking with Blair and bringing Splitter along slowly. It wasnt Splitters fault he’s played 6 – 20 min games this entire season when your undersized center has played a shit load. Do the math and see who would had benefited more. Splitter or Blair? But that’s neither here or there now. So cheerleaders or experts live with what Pop has got to offer and enjoy it.

  • DorieStreet

    Fantastic win Friday night–and emphasis on FAN. Thank you Spurs Fans on this site who went to the game and cheered/hollered/screamed/yelled your head off; it you knew someone who went to the game-hit them up and give them props.

    To Tim’s “Game over” comments (I wonder will they mention it on ESPN/ABC Sunday before, during or after the game?)- the way many of you responded about it (I didn’t see it), he probably was amazed as everyone else that his team came out so focused, intense, and relentless- and a thought or emotion he normally would internalize just escaped him out of sheer astonishment.

    I loved the way the team scrapped underneath the baskets for rebounds; and much kudos to Bonner & Neal for crossing up the Heat defenders–moving off a 3pt attempt and driving to the basket, or making a pass of said drive to the lane.

    To be honest, I went this past week without a lot of sleep so the I dozed off in the 4th; did not see the new guys in action–but comments by a lot of you have me intrigued about Novak & Jeffers.

    Great decision by Coach not to use McDyess (as it was previously against the Cavs- Dice w/ 16 min & Tim w/23 min)

    And about #9–he may not have the “total package” of skills that are attributed to the ‘elite’ point guards in this league===but his toughness takes a back seat to NOBODY.
    22 straight at home–This is Our House!

  • Melbourne Spur

    Everyone forgets that we had hothead Stephen Jackson as a Spur under Pop, and yet he never punched fans while in the silver and black, so his ability to manage egos shouldn’t be undersold either. Phil has done that to some degree, but Pop has also. The Spurs through the years would definitely have had some players that in other systems would have been considered an “ego”, but under Pop and with TD as our leader, we don’t get to see that side of them, because they are kept well in check.

    I can’t stand the credit Phil gets, and the little Pop gets. Four titles, four conference titles, multiple division titles, 12 straight 50+ win seasons……. 1 coach of the year. Really doesn’t make sense to me. If he doesn’t win it this year because some other team has overachieved more, then the award is a farce.

    Would love Pop to out-coach Phil again tomorrow.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Bry

    Timmy wasn’t ‘trash-talking’. He was basically just stating reality. If you come out on the road against the best home-team in the league and get destroyed like that in the first quarter (undoubtedly their worst quarter of the season) then the game’s over. Timmy said it to his teammates, not to the media or the Heat players. That’s hardly trash-talking.

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