Broad side of barn unscathed in Spurs Game 2 loss

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AMERICAN AIRLINES ARENA — Tim Duncan drove to the rim, fired up a shot and watched the ball ricochet off the rim. He muttered an expletive and walked back out to the elbow where he would receive another pass from Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka and try again.

There were still a couple of hours until the Spurs tipped-off in their 103-84 Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat and pregame shootaround was not going well. Or at least, not well enough for Duncan.

Little changed as the night progress and Game 2 was full of expletives for Duncan and the core of the Spurs rotation. He combined with Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard to shoot 14-for-45 (31 percent) from the floor to the tune of 36 points in the loss to the Heat.

“Defense has something to do with it. Just missing shots has something to do with it,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “Missing shots and not shooting well and turning it over is a bad combination.”

That it is, and that’s exactly what happened to San Antonio.

The Spurs got a standout performance from Danny Green, who hit all five of this 3-point attempts en route to a team-high 17 points. But if you’re not going to get a good shooting performance from any of your four best players, well, you’re probably going to lose an NBA Finals game.

That the Spurs hung around so long in Game 2 despite the Big 3+1 firing so many blanks is slightly uplifting, rig– no, no it’s not. The Heat defense worked to near perfection as San Antonio’s options offensively were limited so severely that the only good shot was usually a contested one.

The Heat pressured Tony Parker coming off of pick-and-rolls and took away the passing lanes to his rolling big men. There were far more deflections from the Heat, something Shane Battier mentioned on Friday as a key in Game 2, and that fueled Miami’s transition offense.

But more than anything, it stifled the Spurs’ attack. Everywhere Tony Parker turned, he ran into at least one tall guy wearing white, a lot of times two or three. You knew it was going to happen, it’s what the Heat have been doing all season. But the swiftness with which Miami blitzed the Spurs offense in Game 2 was striking.

“Their pressure really got us on our heels,” Manu Ginobili said. “I don’t think their system changed or their general ideas.

“Maybe some little adjustments, but they did it with aggressiveness, better hands, more active.”

Tim Duncan felt like he missed some makable shots, but the Heat still did a good job pressuring the big man down low. A tweet from friend of 48MoH Matt Moore shows that Duncan has struggled in this series when Udonis Haslem is on the floor for Miami.

“We didn’t play well. We didn’t shoot well. I know I played awfully,” Duncan said.

Leonard can be forgiven for his poor shooting performance considering the mentally and physically energy he has to expend on the other end of the floor with regards to his defense on LeBron James. Through two-and-a-half quarters Kawhi had checked James better than anyone I’d seen this season, but LeBron kicked it into high gear in the second half.

Leonard also continued to attack the boards with aggression, pulling down a game-high 14 boards, eight of them offensive. He’s averaging 8.5 rebounds per game in this postseason. It’s incredible how effective he is in that area and what it’s done to the Spurs defense. But this is about the offense and unfortunately Leonard hasn’t been hitting his corner 3s so far the Finals. Leonard is just 1-for-7 from beyond the arc in the last two games.

And Ginobili? I don’t know what was going on with Manu Ginobili. Manu lost his dribble more times than I can remember him ever doing so. Never has a player so skilled look so clumsy. If he can’t keep his dribble under control, how can you expect him to knock down shots also? Well, he didn’t. Manu scored just five points on 2-for-6 from the floor.

The Spurs got a great performance from Danny Green and a decent contribution from Gary Neal. But this is the NBA Finals. San Antonio will need stronger shooting performances from its key players moving forward, not only to win the series, but to just take another game. The Heat are really damn good.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Nice headline, Andrew.

    One bad game shooting the ball is a slump. Two games may indicate a pattern (MAY indicate). My question is how much the Miami defense affected the shooting. Contrary to popular belief, persistent defensive pressure often does seem to make people miss when they finally do get an open shot, possibly from fatigue but maybe just as much from overall bewilderment. I think this game was a combination of bad shooting, which isn’t a big concern, and Miami’s defensive pressure, which is a concern because that means we might have to win this series without shooting well in any game. (Certainly we shouldn’t expect Kawhi to shoot well at all. He’s expending so much energy guarding Lebron that it’s to be expected.

    But you’re right about Manu. That was weird. If he handles the ball that way, it really allows Miami to gang up on Tony. If Manu handles it well then the Spurs can give him the ball and run Tony around picks like crazy to get him free, which will shred Miami’s defense. I hope we see some of that in Game 3.

  • NYC

    How come no one’s talking about that egregious flop by Chris Andersen?

    Popovich rests his players and Stern comes down on the Spurs with the fury of Thor’s Hammer. A Heat player flops worse than anything Manu’s ever done (and that’s saying a lot), and not even a whistle, a replay, or a peep from any of the NBA’s fine, impartial analysts.

    The NBA: where hypocrisy happens.

  • STIJL

    For two and a half quarters it looked as a repeat of game one. Had a great feeling about the game if it continued the same pattern. Then…the wheels fell off. Duncan looked every bit the part of a 16 year OLD veteran. Ginobili turned into a bowl of cold mashed potatoes. Parker hounded and cornered by a vicious attack of blood thirsty dogs as if looking for their first meal in days. It was awful for Spur fan to have to watch.

    But this loss showed something that is even more disturbing heading into the rest of the finals. The Spurs highly touted bench is being out benched played by the Heat. If that doesn’t change (significantly improve), even if the Spurs big three recover (survive) their horrible play in this game as if it were a B2B game though they had two days rest, this Heat team is too good to beat with just two Spur players having a decent to good game.

    1) Tiago has got to up his intensity and mental toughness as well as too many times I saw him put a hand in toward the chest to contest a shot. For heavens sake Splitter…your freakin’ seven feet tall. Put your hands in the air.

    2) Neal’s got to (if it’s even a possibility) play better defense. But I digress on that one.

    3) I know the Heat run came at the blink of an eye. And by the time the smoke cleared from that burst of perfect basketball played by Miami, the damage was too much to overcome. Perhaps if the early indications are Manu and Neal are both struggling, would T-Mac be much worse to at least try? The few minutes he’s logged in these finals have shown indication he still got some semblance of game left in him to… in the least…help.

  • kalone

    One thing that gives me hope, a big reason OKC beat the Spurs last year is because they had several supernatural athletes who could just be quick enough, strong enough and long enough to cancel out the Spurs passing game. Miami, sort of to my surprise, doesn’t have that.

    The Heat have 2 superathletic players: LeBron James, half a hurt Dwyane Wade and half a Bosh. After those guys, the next most athletic person on the roster is either Ray Allen or Mario Chalmers. Their pressure defense is based on scheme, not uncrackable ability, but for a night it looked the same. Parker started to count on contact and whistles; Ginobili tried to do things he hasn’t done consistently for 3 years (and looked as bad as I can ever remember); and Duncan didn’t have it to get the 30 and 13 necessary to float us.

    Still, the scheme isn’t unbreakable. More decisive action will mitigate the swarming mentality, and Miami doesn’t have the athletes at enough positions to keep up.

    On defense, we need to keep going under on screens for LeBron, but treat a LeBron screen going away from the basket like a rolling big man and not switch. Stay home on corner shooters. Intermittently trap Chalmers at the start of a possession and get him to shoot more. Chalmers loves proving himself, sometimes right out of a game. Whatever it takes, don’t leave Ray Allen open in the corner. If we can get the Heat offense to pause, we will win the game. AND DON’T LEAVE RAY ALLEN OPEN IN THE CORNER.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Meh, I’ve got better things to do than worry about flopping. I find the whole subject incredibly tedious and the NBA’s TrueHoop-driven crusade to eliminate it to be almost comically naive.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Short answer: Yes.

  • DorieStreet

    SAME FOR MIKE MILLER

  • STIJL

    That guy has laser sight assistance on his shots.

  • Graham

    A horrible night with turnovers and we were neck and neck with Miami till. We gave up that run. Priority 1, 2 and 3 is limiting LeBron James’ effectiveness as a passer. His Pick and Roll game was murder on us last night. Maybe send Tony under those screens so we can keep Kawhi tight on him. Keeping LeBron from Facilitating has to be key, that’s far and away the big reason gave up that floodgate.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I don’t think so.

  • Titletown99030507d

    It’s not like Lebro had a great scoring night again because he didn’t it was Miller and Allen that killed us.

  • Graham

    That’s the point though. Let LeBron take Kawhi 1 on 1 and offer minimal help, stay home on the shooters. Kawhi certainly has shown a lot of promise, and if he can slow LeBron even a little bit, it may be enough.

  • Titletown99030507d

    How about bringing on T-Mac for Tony instead of putting Neal or Cojo. Especially if Parker is getting battered on double teams. They wont double T-Mac at this point in his career. Any other suggestions for Tony’s double troubles? Oh and I sure miss Captain Jack right about now right Pop? I would have loved to see him take some minutes on Lebro.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Tiago’s not interested anymore. They ignore the shit out him on offense so why should he bust balls on defense. How many times do I need to see him with his hands in the air while Tony’s trying to take on the heat lineup in the paint. Refokidiculous!

  • Tim in Surrey

    Weird. Dunno how that happened unless it was a Freudian slip, which means that subconsciously I’m a T-Mac fan. But I honestly meant to write “No.” T-Mac is pretty much a combination museum piece and “Human Victory Cigar” at this point. (SMH… I can’t believe I wrote “Yes”.)

  • Tim in Surrey

    Nevermind. Still virtual jet-lagged from watching games at 3:00 am UK time and possibly still bewildered by the Heat’s disruptive defense. Tracy McGrady is not the solution to any of the Spurs’ problems. He can’t move and he doesn’t really know the offensive or defensive schemes yet. You’re trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it.

  • senorglory

    If the nba hadn’t for decades openly refrained from calls in certain situations and just called a consistent game from start to finish and season opener to game 7, there’d be no incentive to flop, and noone would need be savvy enough to understand that frequently in the playoffs you have to sell he foul.

    We all know that sometimes, unless you’re knocked down, you’re not getting the call.

    Nba could fix, with straight calls.

  • senorglory

    You are insane.

    Or you’ve travelled here directly from way back in the past.

  • Graham

    Sometimes I have trouble telling if these are serious comments.

    Are they?!

  • DorieStreet

    Intensity and focus are vital factors for playoff success– hard for a player just added before they start to get dialed in and ramped up to the level of his teammates (especially for one who has not been playing NBA ball for over a year). But it’s been nearly two months since McGrady has been on the squad; nothing has improved for him in that time (conditioning, grasping of the team’s sets, etc.) to get him in a few minutes in each half?

  • senorglory

    Titletown, I got a similar idea, how about we put in David Robinson for Matt bonner? I mean, he’s still the admiral, right?

  • Chris FOM

    The barn took a hit tonight though.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    The barn collapsed and was lit on fire tonight.

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  • senorglory

    We don’t need no water, Let the MoFo burn!