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Spurs, Heat both focus on defense as Friday practices become film sessions

Jun 6, 2014, 7:00 PM EST

Erik Spoelstra Erik Spoelstra

SAN ANTONIO — No coach was going to put their players through a physical practice the day after that Game 1.

“Last night was extreme,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “It’s like trying to play you know, an NBA basketball game in a hot yoga environment. It’s not ideal.”

The conditions inside the AT&T Center during Game 1 were again the main topic of media questions on Friday, but the coaches and players were largely looking ahead to Game 2 Sunday. Making sure their guys got rest, both coaches turned Friday’s practices into film sessions and both focused on defense.

No coach is ever happy, but both were particularly frustrated with defensive lapses they saw in reviewing the series opener (won by the Spurs).

Heat coach Eric Spoelstra had good reason to be. Tim Duncan got all 10 of his shots in the paint, most of them rolling to the basket off the pick-and-roll (he hit 9 of those 10) and Tiago Splitter got all six of his shots within eight feet of the bucket and hit five (again, often as the roll man).

“We got to defend the paint a little bit better,” LeBron James said. “They did a great job of moving us around and through the pick-and-rolls they got buckets in the paint.”

Those buckets inside early helped open up the three point shooters in the fourth quarter when the Spurs hit six from deep. (and Danny Green caught fire with three of them). Although part of that fourth quarter fade from Miami was the conditions, the Heat rotations were actually fairly tight until the team wilted in the fourth quarter. Still Spoelstra had concerns.

“We have to do some things better, more committed, five men against a very good passing team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday before his film session. “They’re well schooled. Some things we need to adjust on….

“They move the ball extremely well, had us moving around. We were able to force some turnovers, make them uncomfortable. We need to find a little bit of a happy medium.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was his blunt self.

“I thought we made a good number of mistakes,” he said Friday at the Spurs practice facility. “I thought they missed some wide, wide open shots that they had, that scare you to death once you watch the film. That’s not just blowing smoke or an exaggeration. There were about seven or eight wide-open threes they had that just didn’t go down.”

Kwahi Leonard, who draws the task of guarding LeBron James much of the game, said Popovich was all about the defense in the film room.

“We’re in the Finals, you got to play great defense to win these games… also turnovers, he wants us to limit those,” Leonard said. “(Coach talked about) buying into our game plan, knowing our personnel, a lot of guys got some wide open looks last night and fortunately they missed, and just some of our rotations.”

Turnovers will be one stat to watch in Game 2 — the Spurs turned the ball over on 24 percent of their possessions last night, with the Heat getting 14 steals. Do that again, let the Heat get easy transition buckets again, and the Spurs will not like how the game ends as much as they did Game 1.

  1. antistratfordian - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    The Heat’s active hands were tremendous in Game 1. And they were doing a great job in the 2nd half of running the Spurs off the three point line until James left – then it seems the heat caught up with the rest of the Heat and they didn’t have the energy to run out and recover like they were doing prior to that.

    I expect their defense to be doubly troublesome under better conditions in Game 2.

  2. jman2020 - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    Enough bout this I hate Bron but all this is propaganda he will drop 50 pts next game the media will pertray how he bounced back he’s this and that typical NBA 💩

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 8, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Finally a guy who admits he hates but isn’t a pea brain punk loser like Richie The CantonPeaBrain.

  3. beach305 - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Did Danny Green really say that the spurs had cool fans in the locker room and the heat didn’t?

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