The signs were there early. Despite a close game for the first 34 minutes, the Spurs were essentially relying on perfection from Danny Green to keep up. The hot start by the North Carolina product belied the fact that the Spurs were not getting the looks that they wanted, as many of their offensive possessions crept deep into the shot clock without much penetration or ball movement. And as we've learned time and time again in NBA history, three point shooting will not sustain championships if the fundamentals aren't there.
What we also learned is that the Spurs are not going to win this championship on the back of Danny Green. Prior to the beginning of the playoffs, Spurs fans and media folks alike postulated that the Spurs stood a decent chance of making a title run if the role players showed up. What they forgot to mention was that requires that you're three Hall of Famers at least show up. On Sunday night, the Spurs' Big Three failed to show up, combining for just 27 points on 30.3% shooting, 9 turnovers, and only 7 assists.
The Miami Heat did an excellent job of deterring the Spurs from penetrating, and the quick ball movement and inside scoring which lifted the Spurs in Game 1 all but disappeared, replaced by a multitude of costly turnovers off of which the Heat scored 19 points. That there is essentially your box score ladies and gentleman. The Spurs could not take care of the ball, and I'm not even sure that a big game from Tony Parker would have rescued the Spurs from this debacle.
The game started very similarly to Game 1, as the Spurs made the early run when Danny Green made his first three triples for the Spurs' first 9 points. Miami worked their way back into it with a team effort, as 6 of their players scored in the first quarter. Chris Bosh had his mid-range jumper falling early, and Dwayne Wade looked spry as he provided a scoring boost, but the Spurs made 4 first quarter threes (3 by Green), and the period ended locked at 22 a piece.
Miami jumped out quickly in the second on a Mike Miller three followed by a Norris Cole lay in, but the Spurs were once again able to tie the game at 29 with a three by Gary Neal. Tony Parker made a couple of freebies and Manu cashed a three, and the Spurs reversed the early Heat advantage to take a five point lead, their largest of the night. As Dwayne Wade continued to provide a solid contribution for the Heat, Ray Allen got going with a couple of jumpers and the Heat again tied the game at 45-45. A Chalmers three and a Wade layup gave the Heat a five point edge, and they led 50-45 at halftime.
Coming out of the break, the Heat worked their lead up to 8 on a couple of LeBron James free throws, but some great plays again by Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard drew the game back into a tie at 56-56. Following some sloppy play on both ends including a strange 3-second call on Tim Duncan and turnovers from both sides, the Spurs saw their final lead drift away when Mario Chalmers scored an and-1 layup past Danny Green, sparking a 14-3 Heat run to end the third, and they led by ten, 75-65, headed into the fourth.
To start the final period, the Heat continued to pour it on as the Spurs continued to turn it over. The Spurs went cold from deep, signaling the beginning of the end, and the Heat stretched their run to 23-3, taking an 84-65 lead in less than three fourth quarter minutes. The game continued to spiral out of control for the Spurs, and at the 7:43 mark Gregg Popovich waved the white flag and emptied to bench following an emphatic fast break slam by James which gave the Heat a decisive 24 point lead. Game over.
- In Game 1, the Spurs outscored the Heat in the paint 40-34. In Game 2, the Heat won the inside battle 46-38. Besides the obvious turnovers, the Spurs lost this game because they could not get the kind of penetration they were in Game 1 and through much of the playoffs. Popovich and the Spurs will need to re-visit Miami's defensive schemes to find weaknesses which the Spurs offense can exploit. Because in Game 2 the only team being exploited was San Antonio.
- Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard were the two bright spots. Obviously Danny Green had a lights out shooting night, but Kawhi also contributed 9 points and 14 rebounds in 33 minutes.
- I'm a little perplexed with Gary Neal's huge allotment of minutes. He just continues to make boneheaded plays, and he seems to have no contingency for a failed set play, especially when the Heat pressured him. Pop may need to reevaluate his minutes because any time he had the ball in his hands for more than 2 seconds, the Heat collapsed on him.
- I'm also perplexed by Boris Diaw's lack of minutes. I know that the Heat like to go small, but despite his size and the fact that he plays center, Boris can do everything that Gary can do and then some. Gary can shoot and sometimes rescue broken plays. Boris can shoot, pass, defend (anybody), and not turn the ball over. I really would like to see him get more minutes, especially when the Heat go small.
- We learned at least one thing from this game: great play by your critical role players (Green and Leonard) doesn't amount to anything if your core can't score. This may have just been the perfect storm of off nights for Parker, Duncan, and Ginobili, but the Spurs quite obviously will not win games with that kind of effort from the Big Three, no matter how well Kawhi and Danny play.
- Neither Big Three had a very good night, though the Heat's was more efficient (45% shooting, 4 turnovers combined)
- LeBron played worse than in Game 1, and the Spurs lost in a blowout. So much for James being the centerpiece to this series. I'm sure the media will realize this and refocus their coverage towards Tim Duncan.
- The Spurs shot nearly the same percentage in Game 2 (41.0%) as they did in Game 1 (41.7%). Miami improved their shooting from 43.6% to 49.4%.
- The Spurs scored two points off of 6 Miami turnovers. The Heat scored 19 off of 17 Spurs turnovers. Nuff said.
- Oh, is that a silver lining I see? The Spurs still have home court advantage. Does that even mean anything with the 2-3-2 format?