The Margin: San Antonio Spurs 110, Miami Heat 95
As you probably already know by now, The Margin — a blatant rip-off of Rob Mahoney’s ‘The Difference’ — takes the difference in the final scores and flips it into bullet points. There are a lot of them tonight, but nearly as many as there have been in my typical appearances in this capacity. Also, did the Spurs really need to make everything there at the end? I feel like they had it pretty well wrapped up with about 90 seconds left.
- If you hadn’t heard this one already, the Spurs really had to overcome the Heat to beat Miami. (Pauses for effect…….) GET IT?
- In all seriousness, though, it was a weird evening. Word on the street was that the air conditioning in the AT&T Center had begun malfunctioning earlier Thursday afternoon, and that workers weren’t able to repair it in time. It was really hot. And stinky. Stinky hot. There was finally an official announcement at the end of the third quarter, and the folks in the arena voiced their displeasure. But that just made everything interesting, right? Actually, it did.
- LeBron James experienced some apparently brutal cramps, forcing him from the game with 7:31 remaining. The Heat had a two-point lead at the time. Then, the Spurs freaking exploded. San Antonio finished the game on a 26-9 run and outscored Miami 36-17 in the fourth.
- I realize it sounds weird, but losing LeBron really seemed to hurt the Heat. Miami outscored San Antonio by 38.1 points per 100 possessions during his 14 second-half minutes. Still, the Spurs did what they needed to do.
- In the final 7:31, San Antonio hit 10 of its 12 shot attempts, including 6-of-6 from the arc, and dished out nine assists. And it was Danny Green who lit the fuse. After missing his first five attempts from the floor, Green entered when LeBron left and promptly shook himself loose for two 3-pointers, a breakaway dunk and another deep ball in a span of less than four minutes. “That’s what he does, you know. That’s his major skill.” Thanks Gregg.
- Andrew McNeill pointed out this little ditty following the game as we sat in the makeshift media workroom specifically created for the Finals: The Duncan-Boris-Leonard-Manu-Parker lineup played eight minutes in Game 1, most of any of the Spurs’ five-man units. When those five were on the floor at once, San Antonio boasted a 190.4 offensive-efficiency rating and a 57.1 defensive rating. Which is good.
- If the Heat continue to go small (which I’m sure they will), Duncan is going to dominate this series. He hit nine of his 10 shots on his way to 21 points for the night. There was very little resistance at the rim regardless of who was in the game.
- Was a little surprised Pop went back to the Duncan-Splitter duo in the starting lineup after the success the team had when going away from that in Games 5 and 6 of the Oklahoma City series. It wasn’t very successful on this night, either. The Spurs were outscored by nearly 28 points per 100 possessions when the two were on the floor together, and you could see from the start it wasn’t going to work. Miami was spreading it out with its stretch bigs, Chris Bosh and Rashard Lewis, and I felt like I was vicariously living a nightmare along with Duncan and Splitter. Watching them chase shooters all over the floor and navigate screens was exhausting to watch. I was already sweaty, so I really didn’t need the help.
- Miami jacked up 29 3-pointers — twenty-nine — and made 12 of them. You’ll take it when you shoot 41 percent from deep, but they left more opportunities on the table. Heat players were open all night.
- The Spurs turned the ball over 23 times as a team in this game with eight coming in the third quarter alone when the Heat outscored them by nine points. It’s not often you survive a game against the two-time defending champs when giving it away that often. Then again, Miami had 18 of its own.
- Just when you think Marco Belinelli has a good game, you look up and he’s minus-11 — by far the worst of any Spur.
- Just when you think Boris Diaw didn’t do much, he’s got 10 rebounds and six assists, and he’s plus-30 for the game — by far the best of any Spur.
- Manu Ginobili started the game absolutely scorching, hitting his first three 3-pointers and lighting the already sweltering AT&T Center crowd on fire. He cooled off a bit, but still found ways to get to the rim when his jumper stopped falling; and on top of that, his 11 assists were a team high and his plus-22 was good for second best.
- The Spurs’ big lineup didn’t work, but Splitter had a fantastic stretch of basketball that spanned the end of the third and the start of the fourth. The big man was 4-of-4 from the floor and scored nine points, including a big dunk, in the second half. After the misery that was the Finals for him a year ago, I’m sure that felt pretty good.
- I’d be surprised if Pop goes with the same starting lineup on Sunday. If Miami stays this way, it’s going to be difficult for the Spurs to keep up. But there are a lot of things that have to happen between now and then. Among them: better coverage on Miami shooters, better ball protection, and the payment of the AT&T Center’s electrical bill.