For the sake of NBA fans, did Coach Popovich need to announce the benching of his starters sooner than two hours before tip on November 29th? Perhaps. Pop's team played a game the previous night, the team's third in four nights and the fifth of six consecutive road games. So, despite my Silver and Black goggles, it's hard for me to criticize Pop for just thinking of his players and not of the wants and supposed needs of both the NBA and it's fans.
And the Heat? Last night, Erik Spoelstra announced the sitting of Mario Chalmers (the only legit injury), LeBron James, and Dwayne Wade only 90 minutes before tip. James and Wade were supposedly dinged up from the Chicago game but both were apparently healthy enough to play 30+ minutes two days later in New Orleans. Wade I can buy because the man spends more time putting on braces, bandages, and ace wrap than the rest of the league combined. However, it's apparent that the move to sit LeBron was just as much of a jab at Coach Popovich than an attempt at rest and, as both a fan and a below-average blogger, I'm fine with that. It's Coach Spo's team.
"Team X versus Team Y at Standard Arena Name."
This is generally what the type on the face of your typical NBA ticket will read. It doesn't say "LeBron James versus Tim Duncan" or list out the entire roster of both clubs. You pay for a game between two teams. Your intentions may be to see certain players but that isn't match up with what the ticket is truly sold for. Is it a tragedy that little Bobby didn't get to see his favorite player, LeBron, after his daddy drove five hours and dropped two hundred dollars on tickets? If you're a sucker for that type of thing, maybe.
No one knows their team better than NBA coaches and, in a long 82-game grind, they should be able to manage players as they need to. Many of the athletes in these games border super-human status but they are only human. Sorry, little Bobby, but the only way the league can reduce events like last night and the one on November 29th is to shorten the number of regular season games while keeping the span of months. However, the chances of this happening are zip, zero, nill, nada, nope, and so on. Too much money would be tossed aside for other markets to snatch up.
So a word to the wise for Bobby's daddy; Go to a LeBron James event and you'll get that guarantee of seeing the kid's favorite player. Because with an NBA ticket, you're getting exactly what you pay for. And if Timmy D, Bron Bron, or Melo don't dress out? Better luck next time.
- DeJuan Blair spent more time than usual facing up out on the wing.
- Several Heat players ran drills where the shot non-stop. As soon as the ball released their hands, another was heading their way.
- Kawhi Leonard typically spends most of his workout focusing on his mid-range game but the second-year forward is putting more minutes into his post game.
- A fan behind me was trying to coach up Tony Parker, offering technique tips and what not. It was hilarious.
- Tony Parker put up more shots from beyond the arc than usual and he hit nearly all of them.
- Assistant coach Chip Engelland and the Heat's Shane Battier spent quite a few minutes chatting. Both are old Duke Blue Devils.
- Stephen Jackson worked one-on-one with assistant coach Mike Budenholzer. Many teams don't have their head assistant work with players in shoot-around.
- Many Miami fans waited forever on LeBron James and Dwayne Wade to come out of the tunnel for practice. When someone told them news, it wasn't received well.
Quickie Game Hash
This is how well the San Antonio Spurs shot outside of the paint on 42 attempts. Only 18 of those attempts were inside the three-point line. Even though the looks in the first half were more wide-open than ones typically seen in shoot-around, the Spurs just couldn't connect. There were even moments where the Heat defenders just quit on the rotation because no one was within 10 feet of the shooter. In the second quarter, one in which the Spurs controlled, San Antonio shot only 2 of 11 from outside the paint.
So when the Heat came back from the half time break, breathing fire and cranking up the defensive intensity, it was only natural for the Spurs to get pummeled 31-19 in the third quarter. The Spurs scored all 19 of their third quarter points inside the paint, missing all 8 of their attempts beyond the black paint.
The Miami Heat suffer defensively inside, but they balance that out with tenacious defense in the back court. They hawk the passing lanes, press the full court, send early double-teams, and get inside their assignment's jerseys. If you beat them, you beat them. But more often than not, opponents will slow down or screw up. The Miami Heat's philosophy is that of disruption and suffocation.
Sure, it's easy for everybody to Chris Bosh the honors of "Player of the Game" considering that the Ostrich went 9 of 15 FG for 23 points and hit the game-winning triple in the final seconds of the game. But Norris Cole did something even more impressive in my eyes by making Tony Parker's night a living hell. Cole's quickness and length gave the Spurs' point guard real fits, forcing the offense out his hands and into those of less reliable performers (Who were also guarded tenaciously).
Norris was only 4 of 12 from the floor but the second-year guard remained aggressive on the offensive end, quickly moving the ball while also getting himself to the charity stripe seven times.
Gary Neal straight bricked some of the most wide open looks in the game and made almost zero impact on the defensive end. After hitting his first three-pointer of the game with under 10 minutes left in the game, Neal stole the ball off a bad pass by Norris Cole. However, despite the Spurs only being down seven points with plenty of time to operate, Neal opted for a pull-up jump nearly five feet behind the three-point line. That shot alone deserved him the title of "Game Runt."
By the Numbers
- 28 - Advantage in scoring inside for San Antonio (46-18).
- 16 - Advantage in rebounds for San Antonio (49-33).
- 33 - Total rebounds between Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, and Kawhi Leonard. Miami as a team had 33 rebounds.
- 20 - Points scored by Miami off San Antonio turnovers (17).
- 1 - Quarters won by Miami.
- 56.3 - San Antonio free throw percentage.
- 17.1 - Career point average of Chris Bosh going against Tim Duncan.
- 0 - Number of three-pointers Chris Bosh made against the Spurs prior to last night.
- 17 - Second chance points for San Antonio.
Odds & Ends
- When Kawhi Leonard reversed in the layup after driving baseline out of the right corner, Mike Monroe from the San Antonio Express News commented that Kawhi had been working on that shot in practice for a long time.
- There was fantastic ball movement on both sides of the court early on. Then it was just on the Miami Heat's side.
- Joey Crawford showed up to the game in a sweet checkered jacket and briefly joked with some of the fans.
- I gave up trying to find a seat on media row. There was an open seat I could have taken but I had already been relocated twice so I just opted for the media room with the blurry 46" LCD TV.
- The Heat had zero points in the paint in the 1st quarter and only 6 in the first half.
- I only saw one Heat jersey that didn't have number 6 on the back. It was a Tim Hardaway jersey.
- Danny Green floaters... yeah...
- Norris Cole lost his footing on the late foul call against Kawhi Leonard but don't blame the loss on that bad call. Spurs had no business being in a close game situation like that.
- Win or lose, last night's game means nothing (although the major media outlets appear to be going the other way with it). The same goes for the loss earlier in the season in which Tim, Tony, Manu, and Danny did not play.
Bird is the Word
I'm watching Birdman and Boris Diaw go at it in the post, but I feel like I'm watching the beginning stages of a Lava Lamp being created.— HalfManHalf-A-Raisin (@Marco_Romo) March 31, 2013
Every team needs a Shane Battier.— dan mccarney (@danmccarneysaen) April 1, 2013
Even the HEB ball-drop contestant was awful.— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) April 1, 2013
Going into the Next Game, the Spurs Need to...
...mentally regroup. The Memphis Grizzlies are tonight and they're a squad that loves to shove the ball down your throat. Oh, and Oklahoma City is on Thursday and that team wants to shove their foot up something else. After all, the Thunder are playing for the top seed in the West.