Game 4

By: Shawn Davis

The NBA Finals is now making me sad.

I’m not going to jump in and grab a bat to beat the piñata which seems to be the psyche of LeBron James because that’s being done everywhere else. James will be fine and his “timid” play (as told by the media at-large to anyone that can hear or read) will not be an issue for the remainder of the series. Of course his struggles cannot be linked to the fact that mid-range looks that he usually converts aren’t going down and that the defense on the court is actually playing him well; now that just can’t be it?

My only issue with James’ is that in the Game 3 blowout he didn’t shoot a single free throw. That’s all! As I said a few days ago, if a few of his attempts stay in the rim over the first two games then he isn’t being killed for all the games in the series up to this point. Everyone needs to relax and leave him alone as he’ll start to put up the points that the masses are clamoring for. Does that equal victories for the Miami Heat when he’ll have to do most of the heavy lifting?

A strained right hamstring has me crestfallen. I’m fine. (Thank you.) Tony Parker’s health is not a bigger story as the altar of James demands all attention – and it’s a much more critical story for this evening and the hopes of the San Antonio Spurs. I want the Spurs to win the title; I want them to hoist the trophy. (No, I don’t hate James but Tim Duncan is one of my favorite players ever.) So there…but the one thing I wanted in this series, more than anything else, was health. For both franchises to have as many healthy bodies on the floor to – hopefully – ensure an instant classic that will be talked about for decades into the future is what I was dreaming.

Parker is the Spurs’ engine and a basketball novice would realize that after watching two-to-three games. A hamstring injury to a quick, aggressive, point guard is as damaging as a star wide receiver having the same gimpy leg going into the Super Bowl. I have the feeling that the winner of tonight’s game will eventually take it all. Hyperbole is usually not my way of inspecting and commentating on a particular angle that a story may take so it was really hard for me to write that last sentence.

It’s credible that the Heat win this game – which I predict will happen – because it’s so hard to defeat any team three times consecutively if you’re hosting the middle three games in the archaic 2-3-2 Finals structure. My concern is that Parker will be hindered and that’s going to close the gulf in the point guard matchup in relation to Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. A healthy Parker clearly is a plus for the Spurs (while serving as a minus for the Heat), but hampered, the role-players on the roster will not operate as effectively and the margin of error for his teammates becomes increasingly thinner.

Do not be fooled into thinking the Spurs’ shooting barrage in Game 3 will happen again in Game 4, 5 or at any time during the remainder of this postseason and will therefore compensate for Parker’s bad wheel. It’s not! It’s one of those throw-the-tape-away-and-move-on to the next practice without looking back sort of deals. Manu Ginobili and his extremely shaky ball-handling will be critical because he’s the primary guard when Parker is limited, out, or he has his game in order. That hasn’t happened. Right now, even taking his postseason history into consideration, it’s hard to put too much responsibility on his shoulders. (It was painful to type that.)

Game 3 should not be taken into account but that is exactly how it’s playing out across all forms of media with their self-induced Heat-hysteria episode of the week. I would be more surprised if the Heat lose than I would be if the Spurs take control of this series by winning this evening.

A hamstring may end this series, a hamstring.

The 2-3-2 format is STUPID!

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