“What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”
– Bluto Blutarsky, on the Miami Heat
(Michael Beasley would totally be the player giving that speech.)
The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 107-86 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, as they now take a 3-1 series lead and have pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination. This game felt familiar, as it almost was a carbon-copy of Game 3. However, Game 4 saw the Heat collapse on offense, as Heat players were missing shots at the rim and failed to move the ball consistently.
So now the Heat are faced with the daunting task of winning three games in a row to capture the NBA title. Yes, Miami has been down 3-2 on three different occasions in the Big 3 era (they’ve won two of those series), but this is a different animal. And the Spurs are not just any team. This is going to take some work.
Things that pleased me: We heard a lovely rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. That was then followed by Gregg Popovich donning a Bane mask and creating havoc in the American Airlines Arena.
Things that annoyed me: The Spurs shot 57% from the field. This is a common theme. You know what else is a common theme? The Heat being late on their rotations leaving open shooters everywhere. Four games in and this is STILL a problem.
What happened to the Heat’s role players? I write one column complimenting them and it goes down the drain. It’s my fault, everyone. It’s astonishing how this is the one series that they don’t show up. Norris Cole has been brutal. We know about Mario Chalmers. Chris Andersen hasn’t been as effective. No one expected them to score 10 points a game. But they have to be able to contribute on the defense, and they’ve all been getting eaten alive.
Kawhi Leonard has been fantastic these last two games, as Miami has no answer for him. He’s been the driving force behind the Spurs’ performance, and now has to get the same attention as Tony Parker. Leonard normally just gets what comes his way, but he’s attacking the Heat defense and they haven’t figured out how to deal with him and Parker together. As of now, he would be my choice for series MVP.
Things that perplexed me: LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been the two constants for the Heat in the Finals. LeBron is doing all the work, while Bosh gets ignored for long stretches.
So what exactly is Dwyane Wade’s excuse? This is why Erik Spoelstra put him on a maintenance program, so he could be fresh for moments like this. Yet he looks slow and doesn’t have any spring in his step. He was blowing layups and short jumpers – 2 for 9 in the paint – and his defense has been awful. When Leonard stripped Wade out on the perimeter in the fourth quarter, I felt we just watched Wade be a shell of his former self. All the Carmelo Anthony-to-Miami talk ends with Wade laughing at the notion that he should opt-out of the remaining $43 million coming to him the next two years. Even he knows he isn’t going to make it playing past 35 years old. It’s not happening.
Scale of 1-to-10, How badly did you want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers?: N/A. I feel we’ve come to a point where he isn’t really the problem. His play is being masked by the ineptitude around him. He’ll be back next year, since he probably won’t get his big money deal from anywhere else.
What we learned: The Spurs play great basketball, as the ball zips across the court with ease. They know where to find the open spots and exploit them.
(Wait, I wrote that same sentence after Game 3.)
The Heat just looks tired. San Antonio has been running them all over the floor and it’s catching up to them. My issue is how they haven’t changed their attack on defense. The constant rotations and switches have been picked apart and it hasn’t worked. This isn’t just a problem of the last two games; it’s been going on all series. Jeff Van Gundy brought up a good point of just playing one-on-one defensively, without doubling or switching off. This way leaves it up to the individual to stop his man, plus leaves guys at home on the shooters. I also thought zone might be a way to go, as this is what the Mavericks used somewhat successfully against the Spurs in the first round.
Panic meter: 10. Well, here we are staring into the abyss. The great unknown. Is it impossible? No. It’s just one game at a time. Is it daunting? Of course. The Heat have to beat the Spurs three games in a row – two of which would be in San Antonio.
The San Antonio Spurs are a wonderful team, and have proven themselves time and again. When they get knocked down, they get back up. That’s just what champions do. Now the Miami Heat need to get back up and fight. They’ve come back from tough spots before. This one is just more difficult. But they can do this. Because that’s just what champions do.
After Game 4, Bosh was quoted as saying “If anybody can do this, it’s us.”
That sounds somewhat familiar.
“We’re just the guys to do it!” – Bluto Blutarsky
The Deltas did it. Now it’s the Heat’s turn.