Big three finally show up to the party

It took four games, but we finally saw Miami play like.... Miami. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh all connected for big nights. There was no more talk about facilitating, no more talk about balky knees, and no more excuses. The star players finally realized that they're star players, and played like it. The result? San Antonio looked like a second class team in comparison.

Why did it take four games? Will it last for the remaining two to three?

When Miami plays basketball like that, they're not beatable. I predicted the Heat in six, and I'll stick by that prediction. Particularly seeing Miami finally pull their collective heads out of their asses. If Miami finishes this thing off then gone will be the trade rumors around Bosh, ended will be the talk of Wade slowing down, and silenced will be the critics of LeBron in the clutch.

Miami still needs two more wins to quiet all of their demons, but they finally came out and played in such a way that it's hard to see them not getting those wins.

The Heat haven't lost two games in a row since January 8th/10th against the Pacers/Blazers which makes game five awfully critical if you're the San Antonio Spurs. It also stands to reason that if the Spurs can't win game five, their odds of winning both game six and game seven on the road seem rather long.

However, while the Heat haven't lost two in a row in forever, it's worth noting they also haven't won two in a row since closing out the Bulls and taking game one against the Pacers. They've gone every other game over their last 11 through the course of both the ECF and finals. Personally, I think they snap the pattern to finish off the Spurs in six.

So what went differently?

It starts with Miami's star players knocking down their open jump shots. The Spurs have played under screens all series long and watched LeBron and Wade clank jumper after jumper despite taking open shots in their wheelhouse. It was a strategy worth continuing for as long as it worked, but it's also a strategy that was doomed to fail sooner rather than later.

San Antonio's fortunate it worked through three games and grabbed them two wins to be honest. Now the Spurs need to look at whether or not to try to adjust to cover those jumpers harder by pursuing over the screens and rotating more inside which leaves open the perimeter or whether to continue to stick with what got them to two games a piece and hope the Heat go back into a shooting slump.

Miami was also far more assertive on both ends of the court, disrupting the Spurs offense more with their athleticism and attempting to drive the lane more on offense. We saw more fast break points than previously, and the Spurs were blocked away repeatedly whenever they tried to enter the paint.

The really bad news for the Spurs was this was an old fashioned butt whupping. Miami didn't shoot well from the outside, they didn't get to the free throw line, they dominated on defense, forcing turnover after turnover, and dominated on offense shooting 52.9% from the floor. They won by simply being unstoppable on both ends.

Can San Antonio get back up off the mat? Game five is must win for the Spurs, let's see if they have anything left to offer.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • The Spurs also missed a lot of shots that were falling in games 1 and 3. Plus Wade played out of his mind, like a kid again, like we haven't seen from him in ages. Plus Parker disappeared in the second half like Wade has been doing. Will all of those happen in game 5? If so, the Heat win the game and series. But I would not bet on it.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    San Antonio had their chance to wrap this series at home, now they have to go back to Miami. This series imo will be won by Miami in 6 or 7 games. Spurs had better win Sunday cause I cant see the Heat going back to Miami and losing game 6, I just cant see it and if their is a game 7...look for the Heat to win the championship, you can pretty much book it.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Wade had one of his better games of the season, but he shot 52% from the floor this year and averaged 21.2 points per game. It's not like he had a lousy year and just played WAY over his head.

    Danny Green and Gary Neal played far over their heads this series relative to the regular season compared to Wade in last night's game.

  • Hopefully the Spurs can pull this out and destroy the empire. This series is really important for all our futures, so that we might once again sleep soundly in our beds knowing that the universe is put right. They've done studies that show sleep deprevation has risen 35% and productivity decreased 42% in the US since "the Decision." Hopefully, this summer, America can get some rest.

  • In reply to Hoover:

    Wow! Those studies are shocking! This is not world peace or even a cure for cancer or a balanced USA budget. I would have thought a max of 25% sleep deprivation.

    However, we do take our sports seriously -- perhaps a tad too seriously?

    BTW, If you are not into sleep deprivation, do NOT watch the Blackhawks playoff games. The last 2 games actually totaled 3 and 1/2 games, and the excitement level was insane.

    The Bruins players rushed off after the Hawks scored deep into the third OT. There were unconfirmed rumors that some Bruins went to the hospital for sedation. I know how they felt. I need to start working out for these games -- I'm out of shape.

  • Don't get me wrong, it sucks if the Heat win, but still, think about it. Is it really so bad for Heat haters either way seriously?

    I mean if they lose to the aged Spurs then they're overrated milquetoasts and if they win then who did they beat? The over the hill gang? Big deal. Two Championships hooray!! Only "four, five, six rings" to go according to the "Big Three." I seriously wonder if this year's Finals performance actually bolsters LeBron's resume or confirms his Finals shrinkage issues throughout his career. Up until last night he was shooting what 38% for the series with a blowout and 15 point games on 2-11??

    I'm trying to think of one Bulls Championship where they played a team well past their prime in the Finals? Even the aging 1997 Jazz of Karl Malone at 34 shot .550 from the field at 27ppg. Of course NBA hard core aka dependent sports fans will feel the need to legitimize as in rationalize i.e lie to themselves slash convince themselves the value of this year's Finals/Championship.

    I for one think seriously this is one of the weakest Finals teams ever in San Antonio who happen to have a Bulls gritty competitor cast with more offensive talent granted not saying much compared to the Bulls. And a HOF coach and motivator in Greg Popovich. Congrats Miami. You beat a post prime 37 year old Duncan maybe two years from the end and an aged ineffective Ginobli. Thanks god James plays in such a dysfunctional, undeveloped, money ruined, watered down era of talent. So the media can hype him slash canonize him as the "best ever!!" "Money, money, money, monnn-eeee!!!"

    Looking forward who has any legit stud team on the horizon?? OKC with the stick twins? Even if Wade's knees implode and Miami falters this is one of thee most pathetic eras in the NBA IMO. And greed is the biggest culprit. This lousy offensive Bulls squad viewed as near contenders?? Pathetic.

  • "Before commenting, an administrator will have to approve it." OK, thanks Dad. Sometimes this site's software/prompts just suck Mule wang.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    it seems to say that then approve the comment anyway.

  • Like Spoelstra said during his White House visit, the Miami Heat are an inspiration to me, the way they've worked together as a team to overcome adversity.

  • I have to agree with the general sentiment so far that the Spurs are an over the hill unit and not a particularly worthy finals opponent. They likely wouldn't even be in the finals if Westbrook hadn't gotten injured, not that OKC was going to beat Miami either.

    Since their last finals appearance 6 years ago, the Big 3 have become at best the big 1(Parker), the big old one(Duncan) and the big done(Ginobli). Watching Duncan now, it seems hard to believe that he is still better than Noah, but the numbers would seem to suggest so. Ginobli is worse than either Bellin or Nate right now. and I still wouldn't say that Parker is better than Rose

    The Spurs do seem like an older smarter version of the Bulls, maybe they find a way to win one more game, but in the end they don't seem to have the talent to beat the Heat.

    With the exception of the first championship against the Lakers, the Bulls beat the next best team in the league in every one of their championships

    As fot the Heats place in history, the Lakers 3 peat came against pathetically weak eastern conference opponents. In the final analysis, history doesn't much care about who you beat, it justs remembers that you were the champion. Back to back championships will give Miami a small place in history, if they make it back again next year, then the Dynasty talk will start regardless of the caliber of their opponents.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Agree with much of what you wrote, except that I often felt like the Knicks were a tougher out than whomever the Bulls faced in the finals.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree with your sentiment on the Knicks, and even the Pacers during the second 3 peat, however, the west teams that the Bulls faced always had the best record in the league other than the Bulls and all but the Lakers were 60+ win teams. Then again, I guess that the Spurs had the second best record this season after the Heat.

  • Iguodala just announced he's opting out and looking for a big payday. You can bet Luol Deng is paying attention what money he gets. The Bulls are going to regret not trading him last summer. Deng at 12 million a year is just heresy for a team that badly needs offense and younger athleticism.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Agreed!
    And who could have seen this coming? Maybe the Bulls?!? Because last contract Deng refused to sign a very good extension offer (along with Ben Gordon) ruining team chemistry while playing out the season to go to free agency. It ended with Bulls losing Gordon for nothing (3rd pick) and over paying Deng massively. You'd think GarPaxDorf would remember and learn!?!

    Last off-season GarPaxDorf screwed up BIG TIME by refusing to take back a bad contract to trade Deng and get a high draft pick (which would have been Harrison Barnes). But No, Rein$dorf wanted a salary dump of Deng AND a top draft pick. HA, not happening, ever!

    I find it comical how last season so few had the foresight to trade Deng, and now everyone wants him traded. Well Guess What? Now as an expiring going to unrestricted free agency, Deng has little value in trade, just like Josh Smith last season who Atlanta was unable to trade though they shopped him extensively.

    Through their foresight and wisdom, GarPaxDorf only have two remaining options, neither good - overpay Deng once again or lose him for nothing. Nice work guys! You lost your chance last off-season! Another asset squandered - Ben Gordon, Omer Asik...

  • In reply to Edward:

    While I have tried to trade Deng every season that he has been in the league, I think that at least 50% of Bulls fans wanted to trade Deng for a lottery pick last summer, probably more on this site.

    I do however, question whether anyone in the top 5-10 picks was really interested in trading their pick for Deng, even if they got to dump a bad contract on us.

    We might still be able to pull off a Deng deal this summer, but there is no doubt that we will have to take back a bad contract. We just have to find a team that cares more about its finances that it does about competing.

    My #1 hope/strategy for this offseason would be to acquire a pick high enough to draft Dario Saric and let him stay in Europe for one more year if he really wants to.

    It seems that he won't get past Dallas @13 if they keep the pick, since they want a stash player who won't count against this years cap.

    Then in 2014 we unvail our frontcourt of the future(Mirotic and Saric) to pair with Rose in his prime.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's wasn't and isn't now EVEN IF a trade partner got to dump a bad contract on Bulls, it was and is now ONLY IF.

    We Bulls fans must view potential trades through the other teams eyes too. They have a 5-7 draft pick, what can they get for it? A superstar, No. But a good player, Yes. However this other team doesn't just want to add a massive salary to their roster, they want to keep their salary the same or lower so the trade would be beneficial to them - after all they are giving up a good draft pick. Yes, other teams want to win the trade too.

    Rein$dorf was greedy, he wanted to win on both fronts, financial and basketball - dump salary and get a good young player. No team would ever agree to take on a big contract AND give up their draft pick, unless for a superstar which Deng is not.

    Sacramento in particular was a financially desperate team. They sold their 2nd round pick for cash only on draft night. Then during this season Sacramento traded the player they drafted at 5 in a money-saving package with Houston. It was well known the Maloof's were financially desperate, and not very astute basketball wise. Look at the FACTS - Maloof's didn't want either of their draft picks, they only wanted to save money. They no longer cared about the team, they were selling it!

    Rein$dorf should have let potential trade partners win the Deng trade Financially so he could win it Basketball wise. That was and is now the best possible outcome of a Deng trade as he is not a superstar. But we all know the order of priorities for Rein$dorf as he patiently waits for the HardCap in the 2017 CBA. Given the rookie scale of about $3 million for the draft pick, Bulls would have likely added some salary (for 2 years) to make this trade happen.

    But after a 2-year financial penalty, the bad contract walks and Bulls have on the roster - a young player with an upside on a rookie contract vs. an old player on the downside wanting another massive extension. That's a basketball win! But there was a financial price to paid for 2 years - some increase in salary plus the accompanying luxury taxes.

    So such a trade is no slam-dunk for Bulls as your betting on the draft pick being better than Deng, indeed paying a premium for the chance. But given what we all know about Deng, he's past his peak and will want another massive contract extension (remember his last contract negotiation?), the longer-term basketball decision would have been trade Deng, particularly with Rose out with his ACL.

    Then I'd have paid cash for Sacramento's 2nd to boot, selecting Will Barton at 36 and played Barnes, Barton, Teague and Butler for development purposes instead of a bunch of 1-year vet rentals that won't return. Remember the 2004 draft? Then Derrick Rose returns for 2013-14 and now there's a basketball future, not wait-for 2014-pie-in-the-sky while we sign 1-year vets for the second consecutive season.

    But that would have been a significant Financial investment in improving the Basketball side. It was cheaper to keep Deng and sign 1-year vets. That's why Deng is still a Bull.

  • Manu and Timmy both look one step from retirement. I didn't predict Tim Duncan would suddenly look his age in the NBA Finals after defying his birth certificate for this entire season and postseason run. The Spurs have zero chance if they lose on Sunday in my book. It's been and will continue to be a good series regardless.

Leave a comment