Thoughts about a wonderful Game 1 and rants after a soul-sucking Game 2

US PRESSWIRE

All of the ire that has been building over the last week or so of indulging in multimedia narratives surrounding Spurs/Heat comes spewing out - along with some observations and opinions.

I've been reading a lot. I've been listening a lot. I've been watching a lot of video. The days between Game 1 and Game 2 were good days to be a Spurs fan. So many were heaping praise on TP and the Spurs. But even so, some of the narratives got to me. Now Game 2 is over and I'm not happy. Depressed and frustrated would be more accurate. I refuse to read, listen to, or watch anything that is not PtR. I just don't want to hear all of the crap about the Spurs being too old, too unathletic, Heat/Lebron/Big 3 just too much for them, Spurs can't get win when fresher so they are in trouble, etc. ad naseum. My emotional response to the loss just stoked the fire that is cooking the pot of my indignation. Since it is threatening to boil over, I've got to write. If I didn't have this platform, this would be a fan post or snipes at idiots on ESPN. And since I'm in a bad mood, a really foul mood, this is probably a little more snarky and dry than would make for a better read. But maybe you feel the same way and we can commiserate.

  • Miami played a good game 1. I thought so, and I'm telling you so. Lebron thought so and said so. He said they were a few mistakes away from a victory. So there. He's the king. Miami played well enough in this game to beat a lot of teams. This was good enough to win most of the games that they won this year, with the caveat that a few of them required some Lebron magic near the end to seal the deal (see game 1 vs. Pacers). Bring this level of intensity and execution, with the few turnovers, great rebounding and decent shooting percentage night after night, and they advance all the way to the conference finals, which they have done. Now, I think they have played better some nights, and worse some nights, but I'm just saying that this was a level of play that they can sustain, and which usually brings them success. They EXPECT to have success playing at this level. It's not too different from the Spurs. When everything is working right, the Spurs look unbeatable, but we get a lot of success, even when things don't always go right. Like Game 1.
  • Spurs didn't have a good Game 1. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really good. I thought so, and I'm telling you so. Manu thought so, and he said so. Me and Manu make a quorum. So there. Our shooting percentage on wide open shots was poor. Some of the hiccups can probably be attributed to rust. Tim gave the ball away on the first play giving Miami their requisite ESPN fast break dunk highlight. Tim missed his first 5 shots, and got 2 early fouls (one very questionable). Manu, the truth is, we just need more Manu. And Game 2 was worse. Ugh.
  • You're supposed to raise your heart rate for a while a couple of times a week to maintain optimal health. For me, that usually means playing basketball or soccer. Or I could just watch the Spurs play the Heat in the NBA finals. During Game 1, I kept telling myself to calm down, you know, it's just a game. Apparently I'm not very convincing. If I'd been hooked up to a monitor in a hospital they might have had a crash cart in there, administering drugs, warming up the paddles and waiting for me to fall off the edge. I was definitely experiencing tachycardia. Good thing my day job isn't as a suicide crisis counselor. I can't even talk myself down. In related, but completely irrelevant news, I would make a sucky ninja.
  • We've seen a lot of injuries during the course of basketball games this year. And the odd bowling injury. It's a shame. Personally, I lost a fingernail during Game 1, but managed to get all the way through game 2 without further injury, perhaps because I made some popcorn to nervously munch. Hopefully, none of the actual players sustained injuries. I can tell myself it is just a game, I don't know any of these people, and it's just a game, and it doesn't affect my life and it is just a game and I am a grown man with a family and it is just a game. Yeah, it doesn't matter.
  • Don't you think it is absolutely insane that grown men (and women) scream and yell encouragement, criticism, frustration or praise at people on the TV or the radio during a sporting event. Yelling "Freaking DUNK the ball Duncan!!!" at a TV screen is just crazy. Am I right? Like sitting in a theater during a thriller and screaming at the screen, "Don't open that box!!!" as if it would make any difference. Right? The better thing is to sit back and enjoy the show. Yes? "Oh, but the difference is a live event versus a prerecorded, scripted production." Yeah, sorry, that doesn't make me feel any less foolish. Wife: "How is Bonner playing." Me: "How do you even know his name, you never watch the Spurs." Wife: "You're always yelling at him." Ohhhhhh . . . .
  • I love Michael Wilbon. His analysis has always seemed so right on and insightful he doesn't get caught up in hype, and he's always careful to say that he is expressing his opinion when he expresses his opinion instead of doing a Stephen A. Smith and just saying that "This is the way that it is, Skip Bayless!" He was the only one of "the crew", that picked the Spurs to beat the Grizzlies. And I have liked the ESPN/ABC NBA Game Time team or whatever they are called, in previous times that I've seen them this season. But man, with this Heat thing, I can't stand to listen to anything. Not sure if it is Jalen taking over, and Wilbon not wanting to rock the boat, or what. It's just bad. And it is still better than the TNT crew. A lot better.
  • Miami's offense may be overrated. There, I said it. Fortunately TN is a fairly large state, so I think I'm safe from rabid Heat fans. In football it is easy to measure offense and defense because they aren't on the field at the same time. You know when your defense scores. Not so with basketball. Miami's defense is impressive with the amount of turnovers that they usually create, and they are ridiculously efficient at turning those into points. When you consider the number of easy buckets that they usually get off of turnovers, and off of the fast break in transition, and how much those easy buckets pad their shooting percentage, you gotta start to wonder how good their half court offense is at generating points at an efficient rate. Yeah, they can hit the threes. Don't turn it over, get back on D, foul early in the fast break if you have to, run them off the 3 point line and see how things shake out. I'm thinking 40% shooting rate might be the norm, and that it will be hard for them to get to 100 without 20-30 easy points off of turnovers. But what do I know? We should probably ask Magic. "Well, see, the thang about shooters is, they gonna shoot." Very astute observation that speaks precisely to the point Magic. Thanks for the insight.
  • Free throws are huge. Announcers always talk about free throws at the end of the game being huge. I will say that late game free throws can change momentum and game strategy a lot more than earlier makes or misses. But every free throw is huge. EVERY single one. Back in the day when about the only way we could follow sports was through the box scores in the newspaper (no TV, TV but no cable, pre-Internet), my dad made the observation that just about every game, in the NBA and college, was close, and that if a team had made all of their free throws, they could have won the game. Heat missed 5 free throws in Game 1. Just sayin'.
  • Speaking of free throws, how can a guy get paid more money in a season than I might make in my lifetime, and shoot a lower FT percentage than me? Seriously. It is a FREE throw. And what does it take to be a good free throw shooter? Good mechanics and practice. How can guys that have 10x my athletic ability, twice my hand-eye coordination, the best coaches and trainers that money can buy, and all day long every day to work on basketball, fail to average at least 75%? Have you ever wondered how quickly Dwight Howard's FT shooting percentage would increase if posting a 49% FT average meant he only got half of his salary? I think we'd see a real basketball miracle.
  • "Miami will force San Antonio to play small. San Antonio can't win small." How's that theory playing out for you prognosticators?
  • "Tim Duncan is no Roy Hibbert." Maybe 'Roy Hibbert is no TIm Duncan' is the better statement. Do you see Hibbert catching an inbounds pass with .8 seconds left on the clock and draining a jumper over two players who KNEW he had to shoot and were right up in his grill? Me neither. 20, 14, 4 & 3 with the best +/- in the game? Getting everything he wanted in the post? Putting the Heat bigs on the bench with fouls? Being there in the paint to deter the drive? No disrespect to Hibbert, but I think the Spurs would rather have the guy they have.
  • The Spurs were rusty, but rested. Next game, they shouldn't be rusty. Nobody played over 40 minutes, two days off between games, one would think the Spurs should still be pretty fresh. Me on the other hand, I don't know. I couldn't sleep after Game 1. That messed up my entire routine. I'm still tired.
  • The Heat were tired. They said so. I think part of the reason Lebron gave the ball up so much was that it would have required a lot of energy to break down the defense. We've seen Manu do that. Two days of rest between games, nobody but Lebron played over 36. The Heat should be fresher for game 2, you would think.
  • When Miami tried to go big, Duncan abused their bigs in the post one after the other until they had to go to the bench with foul trouble. I was happy to see that. I thought that Miami actually played better big than they did small. The +/- of their bigs seemed to confirm that. Birdman can nest on the bench. Tired of him doing the offensive rebound thing.
  • Am I the only person that wants to see defenders stay home on Mike Miller and Ray Allen? Apparently.
  • The Heat feed on negative energy. They like nothing better than to have somebody disrespect them, especially somebody on another team, but they also feed on negative press too. It gives them that intensity, ferocity, and adrenaline to drive away fatigue, to overcome aches and pains, and completely overwhelm opponents that we've seen many times. "We knew James was going to respond to this." "We expected the Heat to rebound from that." The good news is there there shouldn't be a lot of that this series. The Spurs are probably the best team in the NBA at avoiding giving the other team that energy. The only thing you'll hear from the Spurs is great respect for the Heat and their play. So after this wonderful loss, the Heat will get a lot of positive press, that'll feed their egos, and hopefully we won't see nearly as much urgency from them in the next game.
  • I love how Tony Parker gives off that "I'm just happy to be here" vibe with every interview. Totally contrasts the chest thumping entitlement that so many guys give off that totally fires up the Heat.
  • "The Heat are the younger, and more athletic team. They don't need as much rest." Miami is older. Look at the roster. That they aren't considered old is a little strange. Player by player, in the shape they are in now, it is really debatable that the Heat are more athletic - especially on the defensive end. Our 37 yo is a lot better defender than their 37 yo. Obviously they have Lebron. After that? Wade and Bosh are looking very ordinary. Actually Cole looks like the most athletic guy after LeBron. There is probably something significant in that. I should really become a sports writer. Then I could get paid for saying things that people want to perceive as true that aren't actually true, say things that are true but stir up controversy, be wrong more than I'm right, and yet still get paid, or perhaps even promoted. I mean, except for being a weather forecaster, is there any other job where that is true?
  • "The Spurs are playing too fast, and that just plays into Miami's hand. Pace favors Miami." What a load of horse manure. The truth is, you can't control how fast the other team comes at you. All you can do it control how fast you go at them. The further truth is that it doesn't matter whether you run up the court or walk up the court, whether you shoot the ball with 2 seconds gone by on the shot clock or 2 seconds left. What matters is the quality of the shot and turnovers. When most teams push the ball on offense, they have more turnovers. If you can push the ball, if you can have pace, if you can have early offense, protect the ball and get good shots, pace favors Miami's opponent. Miami has stellar half court D, and you'll take your good shots wherever you can. Making them hustle back on D just means that they will want to catch their breath on O. In Game 2, we made almost all of our bad passes in the half court set, not in an attempt to push the ball in transition.
  • I am sensing a disturbing correlation between Spurs +/- and the time I am actually watching the game. I tuned in to Game 1, Spurs up 7, 9-2. The lead quickly evaporates. I walk away for a few seconds in the fourth with Spurs down 1, and come back and Spurs are up 6. For anybody that is keeping track, that is +14 when I'm "off the court". I do not like the implications. In Game 2, I was a -10 while I was "on the court", before I shut it off after 3. The evidence doesn't say prove that I hurt the team, but shutting it down obviously didn't help as we quickly went down a whole lot more.
  • Parker did his 4th quarter thing in Game 1. Lebron did not. Parker had the energy. Lebron asked for a breather to start the 4th. The Spurs turned up the defense in the 4th. A lot. It seemed to get tighter as the quarter went along. Eventually, it got up to what I think you could safely call "suffocating". I expect them to try to do the same going forward. Miami attacked a little differently in Game 2.
  • Danny Green was awesome in Game 2. If it hadn't been for Green it would have been a blowout in the first quarter, and an embarrassment the rest of the way.
  • I wonder how much the motion offensive schemes of the Spurs are wearing on the Heat. Or will wear on the Heat. We've seen this before. Guys play their regular minutes versus the Spurs, but in the 4th quarter, the Spurs turn it up a little and the other guys run out of gas - they are more fatigued than they expected to be. The Spurs make guys work hard on defense physically and mentally, often for a good portion of the shot clock, unlike other teams that do a lot of ISOs, or even straight pick and rolls involving just two players.
  • The officiating in Game 1, was the best I've seen in any game this playoff season. Amazing really. They may have missed some wrist/arm fouls (there were a number of otherwise inexplicable air balls), and I would have liked to have seen Manu go to the line a couple of times, but I'm sure Heat fans would have like to see their guys go to the line a couple more times on drives to the rim. Great job by the officials. Game 2, not so much. As we've seen before though, Joey Crawford can screw over both teams equally.
  • In my unqualified opinion, the absence of foul calls through most of this Game 1 favored San Antonio, I think. San Antonio is the more rested team, and perhaps the better conditioned team as they are accustomed to working harder on offense than just about any other team in the league (which has the added benefit of making the defense work harder than is perhaps their custom). Fouls stop the game and let folks catch their breath. Those little micro breaks let the muscles recover. They let you catch your wind and let your muscles resume efficient aerobic respiration, vs inefficient anaerobic respiration. It makes a big difference. A few minutes up and down the court at full speed without a break can sap way more energy than an entire quarter with stoppages every 1-3 possessions. There weren't a lot more fouls called in Game 2, but it sure felt like there were a lot more breaks. So, San Antonio may not experience that advantage going forward.
  • I've heard a lot of talk about the Heat's "hawking" defense. I've also heard it described as a pack of predatory cheetahs on the hunt, hungry, stalking their prey, muscles coiled, just waiting to leap and make the kill. And I've seen it. I've seen teams absolutely taken apart - unable to pass the ball around, unable to get a shot. But the inference is, that the Heat didn't do that in Game 1, that they were taking it easy on the Spurs, that they've got this terrifying defense that they will unleash upon the Spurs at a time and place of their choosing and we might as well all just die right now of fear induced heart failure and save ourselves the wait, and of course that they unleashed it in Game 2. "Do you hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability." Personally, color me shocked if they didn't try to do it in the first game, and we just got sloppy in the second game. We had some really bad passes.
  • Tony Parker absolutely SMOTHERED Mario Chalmers in the corner on one possession in the fourth quarter in Game 1. Parker took away the sideline dribble and pass, the pass into the paint, and basically dared Chalmers to squeeze past him along the baseline into a waiting TD. Chalmers took a few seconds to make up his mind - too long. He ended up jumping sideways to create some space, and hoisting up a shot that hit the side of the backboard, resulting in a shot clock violation. If he had made the shot, we might have been seeing that highlight over and over again on SportsCenter. Magic, how do you feel about Parker's play so far in this series. "Tony Parker, Jalen, is a point guard. I love Tony Parker." Jalen, what about you? "Tony Parker is not the third best POINT GUARD in the league, he is the third best PLAYER in the league." Bill, thoughts on Tony Parker? "I agree with Magic."
  • Dwayne Wade appears to be falling apart. And the Heat team seems to lack some cohesion. You've got Wade basically calling out James after game 6 of the ECF, saying he can't do it on his own, that's not how they got this far, and that he (Wade) needs more touches. You've got James referring to his Cleveland days, insinuating that he's not getting any help, and calling out Bosh and Wade saying that both of them need to play better. You've got the players after Game 1 of the Finals calling out the coaches by saying that they need a better game plan for Game 2. Wade threw a pass to Chalmers in the corner with the shot clock expiring. Tony closed out, Chalmers had nothing going for him. Wade is up at the top of the key pitching a fit about Chalmers not doing something. I'm sure a large part of Wade's problem is physical, but it seems there may be some mental or interpersonal issues going on right now. Will it get better? Who knows? Winning tends to make things better. And losing exacerbates problems. I'm rooting for exacerbation.
  • Did you ever wonder just how much energy that LeBron had to expend to extend that 27 game winning streak? Just a thought. What are your thoughts on that, Magic? "Lebron, now, he gonna get his." Simply brilliant.
  • The ESPN radio call of "the Tony Parker shot" of Game 1 was awesome in its seeming Heat favored-ness. The absolute shock in the announcers voice. Priceless. "Shot clock at 1. Parker not going to get a shot off. It's a shot clock violation. OH!!! It goes in!!! Oh my!!!" Take a listen here about 10 seconds in. http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=9351823
  • The Heat can play better than they did in Game 1. They seemed to in Game 2. I just question how much better they actually played. It's time for a little bit of speculative analysis, from an armchair analyst (who wishes he had an armchair). We've seen the Heat absolutely dominate and destroy other teams. I just wonder how much of that is dependent upon forcing turnovers, and/or beating the other team down the floor. The Pacers turned the ball over a lot, but a lot of them weren't the typical steal the ball and turn into transition dunk stuff that is the Heat trademark. The Pacers also crashed the offensive boards, so much so that securing the defensive rebound became a major focus. You didn't have guys leaking out. It was all they could do to get the offensive rebound, and advancing it rapidly up the court was an afterthought on most possessions. We're all addicted to looking at the box score and measuring a team or player. If you watched Game 1, and even if you look at the box score, the Heat played a really good game. They couldn't do much better. They missed a few open 3s, but besides that, they pretty much made what they were supposed to make according to what was available and the averages. They had just 8 turnovers. They out rebounded the Spurs. They had more assists. They shot better from two and from 3. They played good D. They played a great game. The Spurs just didn't turn it over. And Game 2, the Spurs won the rebound battle, shot great from 3, and lost. It's all about the turnovers.
  • The Spurs can play better. A lot better. We of PtR know this. Anybody who has followed the Spurs much this year knows this. They didn't hit a lot of 3s in Game 1 that would normally drop. They were a little rusty on offense and defense to start Game 1, and looked flat in Game 2. They haven't boxed out Bird Man very well. Danny Green probably won't crash into Ray Allen and give him 3 free throws again. They'll probably adjust to staying closer to a couple of the better 3 point shooters, and they can protect the ball better. The Spurs probably won't get away with only 4 turnovers again. Or with Danny Green shooting out of his mind again, or with Kawhi getting 8 offensive boards again. But they can collectively grab more rebounds. They can definitely shoot better.
  • I wanted the Spurs to win Game 2. More than that I wanted the Spurs to sweep. Part of it is, I just want the Heat to lose. 4 games, 7 games, I don't care. Don't go away mad. Just go away . . . without another banner. Shoot, I wanted the Heat to lose in Round 2. Or 3. I want the narratives that would naturally follow any of those scenarios. But mostly, I wanted the narrative of a Spurs team that sweeps both the Grizzlies, and the Heat, and only loses 2 games in the entire playoffs. I wanted the Spurs to sweep the team that had the second longest winning streak in NBA history and the longest in the modern era. A line from Remember the Titans keeps running through my mind. "Run it up, Herman. Leave no doubt." That's what I wanted. Now, I just want them to win out. Three in a row. At home. Good enough. But I would be content just to have the Spurs win. No, more than content. Ecstatic. Go Spurs Go.
  • I like how the Spurs are playing. I'm afraid though. I mean, Miami is super awesome and the Spurs are old, right? Eventually, Miami is going to get really interested in this series and then it will all be over. Right? Well, that's what everybody says. No, the real reason that I'm afraid is that at this level, the separation between teams is like one or two baskets over 48 minutes. One free throw, one possession, one mistake can be the difference between victory and defeat. The margin is that fine. My fear is that the Spurs could be the better team for the majority of this series, and still lose because of a foul (for instance, Manu on Dirk or Green on Allen), a bad pass, or even a missed call. (And besides Joey Crawford, who is going to call a foul on LeBron in the waning moments of a game. Joey Crawford: purveyor of equal opportunity "screw you" moments.) And that sucks. I feel like in order to win this, the Spurs are going to have to be much, much better than the Heat, although the final score is only going to show a narrow margin.
  • The Heat usually get better as a series goes on. But so do the Spurs. Should be a great series. Hopefully I'll be able to survive it. I might have to pull a Shae Serrano, DVR it, and watch it if the Spurs win. I might do less damage to my heart, my fingernails, my furniture, etc.
  • And finally, two more things absolutely piss me off. 1) If the Spurs win this one, this year, some idiot is going to attach an asterisk to their title. In fact, a lot of idiots. "Oh the Spurs wouldn't have beaten the Lakers if Kobe hadn't been injured." "The Spurs wouldn't have beaten the Warriors if Curry hadn't sprained his ankle." "The Spurs couldn't have beaten the Thunder if Westbrook hadn't been injured." "The Spurs wouldn't have beaten the Heat if Bosh and Wade were healthy." I can just see it now, and it makes me so mad I want to let some dirty words come out of my mouth. Except that I don't cuss. And if I tried, I'd probably mess it up. Does the F word go before or after the noun? Or maybe I should simplify it and just use it as a verb, or maybe a noun? So complicated. Back to my rant. You all stupid idiot sports writers and talking heads didn't say anything like that when TD or Manu were injured and that Lakers or somebody else won the title. Shoot, TD is STILL injured. He's lugging around a big old metal brace and STILL beating everybody down the court. Can you imagine if TD had never hurt that knee? Like, it never happened? Oh the playoff glory. And while we might be healthier than most teams this year, it is in part because of a freaking PLAN to systematically keep people rested and healthy THROUGHOUT the year. But sure, try to minimize the Spurs. Try to marginalize their accomplishment. What's that you say? Injuries? Sorry, I'm too busy counting rings to listen to anything you have to say. 2) If the Spurs lose this, against what many consider to be one of the best teams in NBA history, all of the old narratives will return, and this team and all its accomplishments will be under-appreciated and forgotten. We've got to win.
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