85 points, 30 rebounds, nine assists, 10 steals, five blocks. Sounds like a Wilt Chamberlain stat line, or the Lebron James version of a 2006 Kobe Bryant scoring spree.
It’s actually the output from Miami’s “Big 3” from Game 4. Big is an understatement. The message they sent was gargantuan. You can’t stop us is what it said. It seems San Antonio will have to hope the stars of the Miami Heat stop themselves as they have so often lately. Last night was not lately, however.
San Antonio started off hot from downtown, carrying over the ball movement and moxie from Game 3. After building up a ten point lead, Miami went into a half-court press that was a sight to see. As soon as Tony Parker crossed half-court he was covered by an iso-man press defender. When Duncan got the ball on the baseline, another defender would immediately trap him. Miami only showed vulnerability in one part of the floor, and that was the corner-3 and most noticeably, the paint. They let Duncan and Splitter get into the paint off pick and rolls but that is all they really let them do. GET into the paint. Not much else. Tiago Splitter was embarrassed every time he touched the ball, with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade rejecting every shot he put up. The Spurs got an electric first half out of Tony Parker, who helped San Antonio bridge the gap by halftime. In the second half, he was non-existent.
The Spurs stayed within striking distance via some ballsy shots by Danny Green and Gary Neal, but there is a lot of cause for concern for San Antonio. Wade’s renaissance performance is making Manu Ginoblis lackluster showings more pathetic than they already were. He showcased his full offensive repertoire, which as we know is a dazzling array of acrobatic shots and quick bursts of dominant athleticism. The hook shot in the paint was on point in Game 4, and the euro and hop steps were in full motion.
The stars for Miami showed up, which is quite the opposite for San Antonio.
Tim Duncan looks extremely passive, and Tony Parker, the only positional advantage the Spurs had is banged up with an injury. LeBron James was forced to shoot jumpers early on and he converted on most of them. James was a one-man show for large stretches of the game, altering shots on one end and then nailing mid-range jumpers on offense in the following sequences.
San Antonio’s chances are becoming bleaker the more offensively inept they get. How many 28-footers are they going to keep making? Granted, every game has drastically changed our rhetoric and outlook the next day of where the momentum is shifting. You can trust Gregg Popovich to make the necessary adjustments, but when Miami dials in on defense they look unstoppable. They poke, they prod, they press, and they perform. If Poppovich can utilize some sets to break through Miami’s ball pressure, the Spurs can put up some points.
Tony Parker will have to have a spectacular performance either way. He is the one player Miami can’t stop when he’s feeling it. In addition to that, Kawhi Leonard will have to limit LeBron in the moments he has guarding him in isolation. Tim Duncan has to be Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli has to be more than a waste of space, Tiago Splitter has to go back to his country, and and I want to see more of Boris Diaw in Game 5 who was effective in short spurts. The Spurs have to stop the Big 3 now and force the likes of Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem to beat them.
With two games looming in Miami after Game 5, the “heat” is on. It’s officially a three-game series. The Spurs will need to get nasty.
Let em’ know Pop.