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.

  • spurs10

    Great read! I stopped for Gatorade on the long drive home and ate a banana when I got there. Hope I don’t cramp up while I’m watching that wonderful 4th quarter on my DVR!

  • Realist

    Hey mathew – u know the lil pg u hate – patty he had ZERO turnovers when everyone else had 23 – if u did el conclusion you’d still score cojo better and he didnt play

  • Tyler

    Let it go

  • brunostrange

    A lot of wide open three point looks by Miami. Really need to rectify that, as the Heat are bound to have a night when most of those are going to go in.

  • camnpat

    “Was a little surprised Pop went back to the Duncan-Splitter duo in the starting lineup…”

    Call this “testing the waters”. Pop went back to the basic Spurs lineup because he didn’t know what lineup Miami was going to use. Why jump the gun until your opponent plays its hand? He made a change for the smaller Spur lineup a few minutes in and then the alternation of Duncan/Diaw/Splitter begun. Now he can make adjustments for game 2 and maybe start with a smaller group.

    With that said, I don’t know if starting with the usual five for San Antonio is a bad thing. Yes, it is not the best but at least this year it doesn’t seem to be a detriment to have them start the game and make a quick change a couple of minutes into the game. Bringing Manu and Diaw off the bench creates problems for the Heat and their second unit.

    I was a little more concerned about how lost offensively Leonard and Green were. Danny shook that off in the 4th quarter, so hopefully it carries over to the next game from the get go, but Leonard was hesitant with shots and passes all night.

    On a different note, Parker hitting a barrage of threes and Danny dunking it in a contested fast break? This series is going to be fun.

  • Joseph Dooley

    Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis torched us, especially in the second half. A lot of it had to do with lucky bounces to Lewis and Allen getting away with blatant elbows while driving to the rim. Fewer turnovers should limit those guys’ opportunities.

  • Matthew R Tynan

    Is this real? People know I freaking love Patty, yes?

  • SAJKinBigD

    I think Kahuna Kawhi will be ok. I think he was kinda shell-shocked by the fouls, but he ALWAYS returns better after such performances and he nailed a pair of clutch threes in the last couple minutes to help push the lead beyond reach.
    Unfortunately, I expect him to be called tightly when guarding LeBron (superstar calls), so he absolutely CANNOT commit dumb fouls as he did twice last night.
    The Spurs are coming.

  • Riotsmoke

    Good points all around, but I think the main focus between now and Sunday has gotta be the turnovers. Most of these were bone-headed plays that had many of us scratching our heads. Maybe the heat was a factor? But more so than that, I think the Spurs still had visions of Ibaka camping the paint early on because the bigs in this game were just ridiculously wide open. I remember two instances in particular where Tiago caught the ball down low, hesitated for about a second and then went up with it, and the other being Tim being called for traveling because he’s expecting a bump from a defender when there’s no one there. On top of that, I don’t think Tim even attempted a shot from beyond the paint and would end up shooting 9/10 from the floor. Crazy, just crazy.

    Miami seems to be content on two things… running guys off the 3-pt line (specifically Danny Green) and trying to force turnovers with their trap defense. Tony, Manu, and whoever else is bringing the ball up has to realize that the second that pick comes, Miami is gonna slide over and try to force a trap. These guys absolutely feed off of turnovers and if it wasn’t for that ridiculous 4th quarter, we’d be looking at 0-1 versus 1-0.

    I’m hoping that this game was the “dumb turnover game” that was Game 2 against Dallas and hopefully we can get all of that out of the system. As for the Heat, they haven’t lost back to back playoff games since God knows when, so I;d expect Lebron to come out with some tenacity and try to force the issue (if only to get after the cramping critics and nay-sayers off his rear-end). Sunday is gonna boil down to two things… execution and protecting the ball… the team that does both of those is gonna win.

  • The Kawhiet Storm