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Versatile Boris Diaw draws raves from teammates, becomes Heat challenge

Jun 7, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

2014 NBA Finals - Game One Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO — If you just looked at a traditional box score, you’d shrug at Boris Diaw’s Game 1 — 2 points on one-of-5 shooting, although he did grab 10 boards.

But to do that would miss his impact completely.

Diaw was a team best +30 in Game 1 for San Antonio. He had 71 touches and made 63 passes (both second on the team to Tony Parker, showing how they ran part of the offense through Diaw), he had six assists, and his size and floor spacing changed everything for the Spurs — their offense scored at a 133.9 points per 100 possessions pace when he was on the court, 78.9 when he was off. Plus he spent some time defending LeBron James, giving Kawhi Leonard a break.

Boris Diaw was essential for the Spurs’ Game 1 win and he’s a guy the Heat have to account for in Game 2.

“He’s a very versatile, versatile player,” Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich said. “Some players have a feel for the game that is better than others. And he’s one of those. He can pass the basketball. He sees the floor in a spatial relationship sort of way. He knows where people are. He knows where the ball should go. He anticipates. On defense, although he’s carrying around a little bit of luggage, he does his work early and positions himself pretty well.

“He allows us to play big and play small at the same time, is what it amounts to.”

And that’s why he is so key against the Heat — Miami wants to go small (with Chris Bosh at the five), the Spurs can counter with Diaw (he played 30 minutes in Game 1) and match that while keeping some size on the court to protect the paint and grab rebounds. Technically you would call Diaw a stretch four, but his ability to put the ball on the floor and serve as a distributor on offense makes him much more than that.

“I was always doing a little bit of everything on the court,” Diaw said of his career. “Always been pretty much a three who could play up at the one or two, or could help at the four or the five. Now for a few years I’ve been more on the four side, but always playing away from the basket, trying to face the basket more than being inside and pounding. I think my whole career I played pretty much the same way.”

Diaw has been important at both ends of the floor (the Spurs defense was more than 30 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court in Game 1). While Kawhi Leonard has the main LeBron James assignment, Diaw gets some turns as well.

“If I’m guarding him I try to use my length because I’m a little taller than if it’s a guard guarding him, he’s way faster than me so I have to give him a little room,” Diaw said.

It can get lost on some fans, but Diaw’s teammates get how important he is to the Spurs.

“I think coming in here he was a point guard or he was a guard all of his life, and he has those skills,” Tim Duncan said. “He has that skill set, and to have the body that he has and to do what he’s done especially in these playoffs this year, it’s been a huge boost for us and it’s really changed our team.”

“It’s been an incredible journey to play with your best friend on a championship team, and I hope we can do it and try to win a championship with him, it would be his first one,” said Tony Parker, a fellow Frenchman who has played with Diaw since youth national teams. “We dreamt about the NBA when we was in France, so we keep living our dream.”

  1. elcapitanfiscal - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    Miami in 5

    • jkirby317 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Did you watch game 1?
      Spurs in 6.

      • mannyfresh209 - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        Yeah, Miami was pretty much controlling the game. Forcing turnover after turnover, scoring almost at will. Once LeBron was forced to exit the game, that’s when the game was won for SA. Don’t be fooled, SA won’t go 14-16 FG again in the 4th. That, and Leonard should’ve been called for his 3rd foul when he ran LeBron over going for the steal. We’ll see how the rest of the series plays out, but to judge it based off of what happened at the END of Game 1 is foolish.

      • jkirby317 - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:26 PM

        So, what happens at the end of games doesn’t matter? Really?

      • jkirby317 - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        LeBron was forced to leave the game?
        I watched it twice and it looked like he ASKED to leave the game.

      • elcapitanfiscal - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        Both teams were even in SA, going back and forth until LeBrons cramps.

      • jkirby317 - Jun 7, 2014 at 5:13 PM

        They were even until LeBron QUIT and the Spurs CLOSED OUT the game. Didn’t LBJ take his talents to South Beach to join a BIG 3 so he didn’t have to do it all by himself?

      • jkirby317 - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        AND then the game ended and the Spurs won by 15.

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 8, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        You’re a loser, you’re Pacers are losers: bottom line is you lose in every way. Hate on, loser.

      • jkirby317 - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        The Heat lost to the Spurs by 15 points… I guess they are losers too

      • jkirby317 - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        Just watch the racers turn left and leave real sports to others

  2. duhwighthoward - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    America has grown soft. The best athletes our ghettoes can produce are getting outplayed by the French, of all nations.

    • eugenesaxe1 - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      The only thing that’s soft is between your ears.

      • duhwighthoward - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:55 PM

        So says the hardhead…

        In your case, it’s between your legs.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:09 AM

        Hope you didn’t spend your whole allowance having someone think that one up for you.

    • brookwell2013 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      Apt username…….duh.

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      They got your number.

  3. Great Caesar's Ghost - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Game 2 is not until Sunday?? That’s stupid.

  4. buffalowned - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    That pass he made to Danny Green in the 4th quarter was pretty damn impressive.

  5. drunkenjunk - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I can’t believe he’s had the career he’s had. He was such a bum in Atlanta.

    • the1nonlyk - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:14 PM

      yeah and ur drunkenjunk

  6. pascalswager42 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    “On defense, although he’s carrying around a little bit of luggage, he does his work early and positions himself pretty well.

    “He allows us to play big and play small at the same time, is what it amounts to.”

    I love Coach Pop. Best in the business. Carrying around a bit of luggage? Priceless.

  7. spyder9669 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Everybody is a bum in Atlanta you jagoff. You serious?? They got a new worthless coach every other year!

  8. kobebetterthanjordan - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    Top 5 greatest NBA players of all time :
    1.) Kobe Bryant
    2.) Michael Jordan
    3.) Larry Bird
    4.) LeBron James
    5.) Chris Webber

  9. jbeagles23 - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    Miami heat in the NBA finals since 2006. After going 1 and 0 lost the finals once. After starting 0 and 1 won all three finals. Game one means nothing to the heat.

    • apmn - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      Here is another meaningless stat that has no bearing in the outcome of the NBA finals: the Spurs have won every game that my grandma has watched this post-season.

  10. antistratfordian - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    You have to take the +/- with a grain of salt. Before LeBron’s cramps Diaw was only +8, which is still good, but obviously isn’t +30. And that was only due to the first half, because Diaw was -2 in the third quarter just like the rest of his teammates, who were all negative in the third.

    Every Spur on the floor had a +11 tagged on top of them just for the last 1:43 of the game.

    • brookwell2013 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:32 PM

      whatev….

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:42 PM

        Don’t need no stinkin’ facts.

  11. newyorkball82 - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    They probably won’t go 14 of 16 in the fourth, but I’m pretty sure they’re not going to have 22 turnovers either. Most of which, since you obviously weren’t watching the game were bad passes or miss handled balls.

  12. montrealknowledge - Jun 7, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Tiago still the key.. Post to post passes between him and Duncan.

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