Jun 12, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; General view of the Finals logo on a chair and basketball prior to game four of the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat Down but Not Out, as Finals Shift to San Antonio


No team in NBA history has ever overcome a 3-1 deficit to come back and win the NBA Finals. The Miami Heat are coming off arguably their two worst playoff performances in the James/Wade/Bosh era back-to-back but with a win in San Antonio on Sunday night, will have a legitimate chance at forcing a Game 7 and ultimately winning their third straight title.

It doesn’t take a basketball expert to realize where the Heat have struggled in this series because quite frankly, they haven’t done much right at all. LeBron James is the best player on the planet but has more turnovers than assists. Dwyane Wade had the most efficient season of his career this year but appears to be running on fumes. Chris Bosh gets lost in the shuffle and seemingly disappears for long stretches of time in the offense. Despite these issues, the Heat would be able to handle almost every team in the NBA but not the Spurs – not the way the 2013 Finals ended.

All things considered, the season is not over and while nobody else believes that they can win three straight vs. the Spurs, the Heat surely do. This will be only the second time in the Big Three era that Miami has faced an elimination game on the road – the other was Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Boston Celtics. LeBron James single-handedly took over that game, accounting for 45 points (on 19-26 shooting), 15 rebounds, 5 assists, and completely shutting down Paul Pierce (9 points on 4-18 shooting) in what was unquestionable one of the greatest performances in NBA history.

For the Miami Heat to steal Game 5 in San Antonio they might need James come up with another historic performance. Since the team cannot bank on such a possibility, they need to make some changes to their game plan and strategy in general. Below are three adjustments that I anticipate the Heat making to improve their chances:

1. Start Udonis Haslem - It may seem fairly drastic to start a player in Game 5 of the NBA Finals when he has been on the court a combined 13 minutes through the first four games of the series, but I strongly believe this is a change that must be made. It has been painfully clear that the Heat are lacking on the court leadership, effort, and overall intangibles that every championship team in any sport requires.

They have had no answer for the Spurs’ Boris Diaw, who has abused the much smaller Dwyane Wade in the post. Haslem has the ability to shut down Diaw in the post and in essence, free up Wade to defend the guards more and improve the three-point defense. Haslem, the co-captain of the Heat, has been a member of the organization since 2003 and is known to many as “Mr. 305.” Inserting Haslem into the starting lineup gives the Heat much more heart and passion on the floor which is exactly what they need right now.

2. Limit (or bench) Mario Chalmers - Without question, Mario Chalmers has been the worst player on either roster during the 2014 NBA Finals. The self-proclaimed top 10-point guard has a total of 14 points, 14 assists, and 10 turnovers through the first four games of the series. Things haven’t gone much better for Chalmers on the defensive end, where Tony Parker has torched him time after time.

Those who watch the Heat regularly know that Chalmers is known for his inconsistent play but rarely does it carry over into multiple games like this. Considering the stage (NBA Finals), the Heat can no longer afford to run out a man who has absolutely no confidence right now and isn’t helping in any aspect of the game. Giving Norris Cole more minutes, playing without a traditional point guard for longer stretches, or playing Toney Douglas are all better options at this point as the Heat enter a must win Game 5.

3. Give Shane Battier More Minutes - Shane Battier has insisted for months now that this will be his final season in the NBA. For one reason or another, Erik Spoelstra has kept Battier hidden on the bench for most of the NBA Finals (only 23 minutes through the first four games). The coach has openly commented on the issue, suggesting that it is a matter of matchup and not health, as many assumed.

Rashard Lewis has done a solid job of contributing on the offensive end by spreading the floor and hitting threes but has been terrible defensively. James Jones, another guy who does basically the same things on the court, has been brought off the bench before Battier as well. Battier is the perfect fit for this series vs. the Spurs because he can spread the floor (like Lewis and Jones) but is also an above average defensive player (unlike Lewis and Jones). The Heat have shown no answer for San Antonio defensively but more minutes for Shane Battier can help change that trend.

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  • Real M-Fing talk !!!

    Smith you cannot be that dumb to bring up Lebron’s name, assist is a product of teammates making shots, if the other players were making shots the Heat would not be in this situation… AND if not for Lebron the heat would have lost this series in 2 games Yes without Lebron they would have found a way to make the impossible possible

    When anyone in the media / broadcasting use the phase.. the Spurs have a “deep” team, or Erik Spo. doesn’t trust anyone or The Heat are tired.. that person is lying to you, they have no creditably and they are gutless they’re more worried about not burning bridges than speaking the truth

    The MAJOR issue is Erik Spo. Erik should be getting crushed in the media
    for playing Wade when he quit on defense / over matched by Diaw and the
    struggles of the Others while Beasley is not dressed, Battier, Douglas and Jones do not play… The heat signed Oden but Erik would
    rather struggle on the boards than try Oden for 5 minutes
    if The Heat start Wade, Chalmers and Beasley is not dressed the heat will be blown out again if Pop can get contributions from Bonner, Diaw, Joseph, Mills and others while Spo can’t get any help from Battier, Jones, Beasley and Douglas…. That idiot Spo believes its
    better to stick with Chalmers, Coles and use Wade to guard Diaw
    the same Wade who already quit on his team than going to a different
    option If Wade , and Chalmers had any self respect for themselves
    they would fake an injury because Erik wont take them out… In sports they want you to believe its about
    the name on the front of the jersey we all know different , its the
    name on the back, if not other players not named Wade useless or
    injured would have been benched a long time ago.

    • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

      Sometimes you just get beat. Wade is bad on defense, and your solution is… Michael Beasley? Jones, Battier, and Douglas have all gotten shots in this series and been TERRIBLE. Oden moves like a guy who has battled knee injuries for more than five years.

      You can criticize Spoelstra’s schemes if you want to do it intelligently, but it is laughable that you want to argue that the solution to beating the Spurs comes in the form of Douglas, Jones, Beasley, Battier, and Oden.

  • al_frick

    While you’re at it, why don’t you all trot out Beasley and Oden? Instead of losing tomorrow by 20, you just might lose by 40.

    The Spurs are just that much better and motivated. suck it dow