I’ve been sitting on some thoughts about game 4 all day long and have yet to fully process what is going on with these Finals. First off, lets start by calling this series what it is: great. Both teams have been spectacular this series–aside from a hot shooting night by the San Antonio Spurs and a night of many mistakes by the Heat.
The Spurs defensive scheme has obviously stymied LeBron James and the Miami Heat’s offense. This is nothing that James hasn’t seen before in his career–the Boston Celtics employed the same scheme last season. Except for James was readily willing to shoot against soft pick and roll coverage. Another factor in this is that the Miami Heat’s shooting has been way off from the perimeter outside of Mike Miller and Ray Allen.
They’re playing James and Dwyane Wade as if they’re Rajon Rondo and challenging them to shoot jump shots. Neither player will concede and do it. Instead, they make the decision to pass the ball or drive into a packed paint of Spurs–not the wisest of decisions.
Aside from game 2 that was filled with turnovers for the Spurs, the Heat offense has been morbid. James and Wade are shooting under 40% from outside the paint on the series. Everyone other than Ray Allen and Mike Miller are shooting 29 percent from outside of the paint–incredibly bad numbers.
The Spurs defense of the paint has been phenomenal and that is where the Heat’s offense starts from. Taking that away is a huge factor in stopping what they are setting out to do.
Now, getting into tonight’s game, Erik Spoelstra has announced that Mike Miller may start tonight’s game. He said that he doesn’t want to extend Miller’s minutes, but starting him will give the Heat an offensive boost to start the game. This will take Udonis Haslem off of the floor and pair Miller with James, Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers.
LeBron will start at a big position, which means that he will be rested on the defensive end instead of following a perimeter threat around the floor–unless the Spurs go small. This puts the Spurs in a great position to finish at the rim because if LeBron cheats at all the Spurs pinpoint passing should be able to get to whoever the big is at the rim.
I don’t think this is a bad lineup change by Spoelstra. It does open up the floor and give them what they’ve been missing since Shane Battier was removed from the lineup for bad play. Opening up the floor is something that needs to happen for this team to succeed. Haslem was just playing too many minutes for the Heat’s offense to succeed and he wasn’t yielding enough success on the defensive end to keep playing him in heavier minutes than before.
This isn’t an overreaction–its an attempt to get back to the norm for this team. We’ll see what the Spurs counter with coming into the game and we’ll also see how Tony Parker performs on his hamstring. Expect early traps from the Heat and expect a lot of passing, as usual, from the Spurs–especially if Parker can’t play.
It isn’t as detrimental as it seems on the surface for Parker to be playing because of the Spurs crisp and precise ball movement. You can get away with not having a lead guard for a game or two with that. The Spurs should still be in good shape offensively because of their efficient system and ball movement. This game is still going to be just as exciting as you think it is.