After years of dueling in some of the most memorable games in the history of the sport, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat took the floor Wednesday night in a matchup that has become a shell of what it once was. But that didn’t stop the visitors from Miami from making themselves comfortable.
The Heat came firing out of the gates to start the game, shooting a sizzling 58% from the field in the opening half. After the plethora of threes, the Spurs woke up and started to counter the Miami haymakers with some offense of their own. Before long, the Silver and Black had found themselves in a shootout with an old foe.
Fortunately the good guys kept their composure and showed off their resiliency, as they responded to every run the opposition threw at them. The offensive clinic was a treat to watch as fans, but you can be assured that there will be a red-faced Gregg Popovich in the film room tomorrow morning. Here are the takeaways from game number 25.
- LaMarcus Aldridge had a fine game, however I expected to see him dominate without Hassan Whiteside in the lineup. He had a few stretches where he took over and really looked for his shot, but it was not what we have grown accustomed to seeing this season. LMA had difficulty asserting himself early on, as Miami sold out to take the ball out of his hands. So San Antonio had to scratch and claw with a scrappy Heat team for three quarters before pulling away.
- Pau Gasol could get abused in pick and roll coverage come playoff time. For as good as the big man looked tonight offensively (both scoring and passing the ball), the Heat quickly pinpointed a weakness in the Spurs armor. His positioning got much better as the game wore on, but this is an area where the big man will have to continue to make adjustments as the season wears on.
- Rudy Gay looked lost at times defensively. Gay has surprised me for much of the season with his defensive prowess, but the 14 year vet struggled against Miami. His late rotations cost the team multiple times in the first half, and ultimately got him benched for a short stretch. Fortunately #22 had it going a bit on offense. In particular, what I love to see is him take advantage of his size to bully the smaller defenders who are matched up on him. When he puts his head down and drives into the paint, he can shoot over just about anybody, as there are few guys who can reach his shot.
- It’s nice seeing Davis Bertans get another crack at playing the 4 again. He just looks so much more comfortable spotting up and playing the pick and pop. The switch has also helped the sharpshooting big man tone down his turnovers as well. He is just too talented to be wasting away on the pine, I hope DB can continue to capitalize on his recent uptick in playing time.
- Other than giving us a brief panic attack after grimacing and grabbing his knee after a drive to the basket early in the second quarter, I thought Manu Ginobili was terrific. He threaded the needle on a number of entry passes to the post, forced a couple of Miami turnovers, and knocked down some big shots that ignited Spurs runs. In other words, it was just a typical day at the office for the future hall of famer.
- I thought Tony Parker looked as comfortable and confident as we’ve seen so far this season. #9 was aggressive off of the pick and roll and torched the Miami big men who were protecting the rim; either finishing around through them or finding the open man as the rest of the defense scrambled.
- Bryn Forbes was a spark plug off of the bench, as his 17 points proved to be critical to the win. Forbes may not be a complete player right now, but the former Michigan State standout spaces the floor nicely and just might be the most reliable deep threat on the roster.
- While Forbes was burning down the nets, Patty Mills had a very peculiar night. It seems like the Aussie point guard was on a roller coaster ride for most of the game. He would throw an errant pass, or shoot a three ball that barely drew iron, and then follow that up a possession later with a pocket pass to Aldridge, or a deep three off of the pick and roll. Overall I think that it’s great sign to see the 29-year-old play the game possession by possession and never get too rattled. Basketball is a game of runs, and it’s important as a team to never get to high or low in the flow of a ball game.
- I’m running out of good things to say about Danny Green. The Tarheel stud continues to show off his redefined game, blowing past his defender on a nightly basis. Against the Heat he kept the trend alive, as he abused an anxious Dion Waiters with a reverse layup and a teardrop off the bounce in the second half. What’s intriguing about his play thus far is the fact that it should only get better when the Klaw returns later in the week.