By: Shawn Davis
Last night’s blowout was what I expected for the opening game. I looked to the nine-day layoff and felt that San Antonio would be flat while Miami would be primed to pick them off because they’ve consistently hit the court every two days or so while the Spurs rested. Well, my prediction was just a day off but I did not see a rout of this sort. A 33-5 run just doesn’t happen, not just in a Finals game, but any game at all. The Heat started the run when they were trailing 62-61 about halfway through the third quarter…and then the Heat came out from everywhere, defensively, and boy did the 3-pointers start falling.
LeBron James has been under the microscope because he hasn’t been as “aggressive” offensively as many in the media feels he should be. They are dead wrong on that point. If James was four inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter he would be the best point guard in the league – they are those who already think this currently – and there wouldn’t be such opposition to the passing component of his game. The Heat are constructed with his best asset in mind, passing; which is the sole reason there are a horde of dangerous shooters dressed in the same jersey that he wears. If James hit three or four more jumpers in each game we would not be hearing the clamor for him to “score more” buckets. (James was 7-17 last night and 7-16 in the opener by missing some good mid-range looks.) James is right to say that he has “done more and lost.” He’s keenly aware that beating the Spurs is more about making the pass than getting a field goal. I get that; I cannot be the only one.
We can all agree that the nine days off was ultimately beneficial to the Spurs, right? They’re an older team, Tony Parker needed to rest his calf and Tim Duncan needed to recharge after taking on both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in a series sweep. The player who I thought would break out in the Finals because of the time earned after the Memphis series would be Manu Ginobili. Last night he was stumbling around, at times when he didn’t have and defensive pressure in his face. It was like watching a semi-concussed fighter during an anticlimactic standing eight-count. He couldn’t stand upright and dribble the ball at the same time. It felt to me that his mind was three steps ahead of his body and that doesn’t bode well against a turnover hungry team like the Heat. I’m not throwing dirt on the guy because I love his style of play (and I picked the Spurs) but if he doesn’t play at an above-average level this series might slip away.
Gregg Popovich has done a great job with the roster and Ginobili doesn’t need to be the volume scorer we’ve seen in the past with the emergence of Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal but he has to provide MORE. He’s vital because at times when Parker sits he is the primary ball handler and being unable to hold the ball is sort of crucial. (I may be wrong.) Regardless of my prediction, I want both teams to play well.
The Spurs are betting on everyone besides James beating them and Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen are fine with that. Shane Battier hasn’t been much of a factor in the series up to this point but the fact that Miller has been defrosted from sitting on the bench all year has been exciting to see.
Since we have an even series shifting to Texas for the next three games – the 2-3-2 format needs to be euthanized as it’s a detriment to the team doing the hosting in the middle – I see both Finals participants continuing the trend of getting a win after a loss. So I have the Spurs prevailing in Games 3 and 5, with the Heat grabbing Game 4. Even if that proves to be incorrect this series is going to be 3-2 entering Game 6 in Miami, the team down will then even it up at 3-3. As I said, this is going the distance.