Spurs look to reignite offensive engine in Game 3

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The San Antonio Spurs lost their way on offense at the end of Game 2. It happens from time to time. As Gregg Popovich put it after Game 2, “You move it or you die.” Line up changes have been suggested, some have wondered what the Spurs need to do different. The fact is the most important change is just to do what they’ve been doing in Games 1 and 2, just be more consistent at it.

That consistency starts with Tim Duncan. Not that Duncan himself was inconsistent, he’s been hyper efficient. The problem is Duncan’s shot attempts and the types of shots he took in the second half looked very different than in the first. If you look back at Duncan’s shot attempts, which is possible through NBA’s amazing stats site, you can see that in the first half, almost everything was on the move, catching the defender off guard. The second half saw a less-involved Duncan, the fourth quarter especially.

In the third he had a couple of lay ups and made 3-of-4 free throw attempts on his way to seven points. The fourth quarter? One shot attempt, a turn around fade away miss, and a couple of key missed free throws. The Big Fundamental didn’t get a shot attempt up in the final 9:09 of the game.

Duncan’s been living at the rim the first two games. The Miami bigs, primarily Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen, aren’t big enough to stop him when he’s in the paint. Oftentimes, they’re sliding over to help on a screen or another cutter, leaving a Heat guard to try to stop Duncan.

So what happened in the fourth quarter? First, LeBron James started defending Tony Parker, which helped keep Parker out of the lane. The Heat also did what they could to wall off the paint and settled for the Spurs taking mid-range jumper and 3-pointers. It almost burned them, as the Spurs shot 4-for-6 from 3, but San Antonio managed only two shots in the paint.

The Spurs only had five assists in the fourth quarter, and that fifth assist came on the Manu Ginobili 3-pointer as time expired. In the last few minutes, the ball stuck and San Antonio settled for mostly outside shots. Game 3 won’t be about defending LeBron. 13 of his 22 shot attempts were outside the paint Sunday night. I think the Spurs would comfortable with that number again. No, this will be about the Spurs continuing to move the ball on offense and finding away to keep their captain involved on the attack for four quarters.

Statistical support courtesy of NBA.com’s stat site and ESPN.com. For fans in Miami looking for tickets to tonight’s Game 3, visit our friends at TiqIQ.

  • jezav

    Trevor – I think your post is right on target. Looking at the scores, the Spurs have kept the Heat under 100 in both games. Even with LeBron going off in game 2, the Heat didn’t reach 100. The did well overall on defense. The offense has been the problem. If you can keep the offense flowing for game 3 while maintaining the same defensive consistency they will have a great chance to come out with a “W.”

    Also Kawhi needs to get more involved on offense, either in being more aggressive in the flow of the offense or on the offense glass.