Skip to content

NBA Finals Game 3 preview: Spurs need to get into the paint, keep LeBron out of it

Jun 10, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

LeBron James, Chris Bosh LeBron James, Chris Bosh

Game 2 of these NBA Finals will be remembered for LeBron James going off. As they should be. He did, to the tune of 35 and 10, plus he got other teammates involved late.

But that’s not the only Spurs problem from Game 2.

Miami played much improved defense in Game 2. That defensive energy and strategy are something coming on the plane with them back to Miami and Game 3 at the American Airlines Arena on Tuesday night. It’s what the Spurs have to adjust to if they are going to steal a game in Florida and even the series.

Miami is 8-0 in the playoffs at home, although they came out of the weak East so take that number with a few grains of salt.

In Game 2 Miami mostly switched pick-and-rolls, which they can do because Chris Bosh is one of the better pick-and-roll defending big men in the NBA (he can challenge the ball handler, then recover as needed, plus he did a good job of closing out on Boris Diaw at the arc in the final minutes). This was a change from the Heat’s default defense of trapping the ball handler, and it worked because with the switch the other defenders could stay home on their shooters. The bottom line is it kept the Spurs from just owning the paint — San Antonio took 11 midrange jumpers in Game 1 and 23 in Game 2. They did take a step back and hit nine three pointers in the second half of Game 2, but they need to get into the paint more.

That is the Spurs challenge in Game 3 is to get back inside consistently — then finish the play. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter were a combined 14-of-16 shooting in the paint in Game 1, but in Game 2 they shot just 8-of-14 in the restricted area as the more aggressive Heat challenged everything.

One thing to watch for, which we saw a little of in Game 2, was the lineup the Spurs used a lot in 2013 — Tim Duncan in the paint and four perimeter players to space the floor around him. Splitter may start but the two big thing is not where the Spurs will spend most of the game. (Boris Diaw lets Popovich go small without actually going small.)

With Miami back home you can expect another good game from LeBron, but the real key is the support. Chris Bosh continues to space the floor and hit big shots. Dwyane Wade has been solid but expect in one of these next to games for him to do more than just flop on Manu Ginobili. The other big key is so far has been Rashard Lewis, who has been a threat from three and played solid defense.

Mario Chalmers has struggled through this series, if he continues to there will be some Noris Cole and a lot of no point guard lineups. Erik Spoelstra has shown the ability to adapt, and he will go with what works in terms of lineups.

But at the end of the day he has the best weapon in the game in LeBron James. And there is no good matchup for that.

Latest Posts
  1. Elephant dunks a basketball?

    Sep 1, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Elephant dunks a basketball.

  2. Report: Rajon Rondo wants to start season with Celtics, see how things unfold

    Sep 1, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    This makes more sense, but he could get moved near the deadline.

  3. Report: Clippers close to deal with Chris Douglas-Roberts

    Sep 1, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Chris Douglas-Roberts, Gary Neal Chris Douglas-Roberts, Gary Neal

    This would be a solid pickup for the bench, especially at the league minimum.

  4. Heat demote two assistants to hire Juwan Howard

    Sep 1, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo lose bench spots, could stay with Miami

  5. Kevin Durant confirms he is staying with Nike

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    12-390_Nike_KDV_Upper_Detail-02_original

    This is a win for Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

  6. James Harden with more bad defense in USA’s win over Turkey (VIDEO)

    Sep 1, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Team USA Practice Session Getty Images

    Harden’s reputation on the defensive end of the floor continues to grow.

  7. Rajon Rondo’s agent denies they asked Celtics for a trade

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Whether he asked out or not doesn’t really change his situation much.

  8. Report: Hedo Turkoglu nearing free agent deal to return to Clippers

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Turkoglu didn’t do much in L.A. last year, but Chris Paul recently touted the importance of consistency in the Clippers’ chances for success next season.

  9. James Harden’s four-point play vs. Turkey (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    James Harden James Harden

    James Harden makes the PUJIT work for him.

  10. Team USA trails at the half, then pulls away for 98-77 win over Turkey at FIBA World Cup

    Aug 31, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    The energy of Kenneth Faried helped Team USA pull away in the second half.

  11. Report: Kings finalizing deal to trade Jason Terry to Rockets

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

    Newly acquired Brooklyn Net's NBA player Jason Terry smiles as he is introduced to the media during a news conference in Brooklyn Reuters

    Terry was never going to be a fit in Sacramento, but could be a nice veteran addition for a Rockets team that plans on contending next season.

  12. Report: Grizzlies waive Jamaal Franklin

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Jamaal Franklin Jamaal Franklin

    Franklin only played one NBA season, but this will open up a roster spot in Memphis.

  13. Timberwolves set record for ticket sales after trading Kevin Love to Cavaliers

    Aug 31, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins Andrew Wiggins

    In some ways, this new beginning in Minnesota is more interesting than if the team had simply proceeded with the status quo.

  14. Thad Young on Sixers rebuild: ‘They were getting rid of everybody and getting worse’

    Aug 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Thaddeus Young AP

    There’s a big difference between the rebuilding that’s taking place in Minnesota and what’s going on with the Sixers.

  15. Report: Nike nearing deal to keep Kevin Durant for next 10 years

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    BASKET-TPE-US-NBA Getty Images

    Under Armour made a huge offer, but Nike has exercised its right to match.

  16. Report: Rajon Rondo has told Celtics ‘he wants out’

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving,Tristan Thompson Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving,Tristan Thompson

    Rondo is in the same situation Kevin Love was in with Timberwolves, before he was traded to Cavaliers.

  17. Report: Hawks in talks to bring back Elton Brand to round out roster

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    He played solidly, particularly on defense, for the Hawks last season.

  18. Deron Williams has resumed basketball activities following offseason surgery (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven Getty Images

    Deron looks good, and he’s back on the court ahead of schedule.

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3246)
  2. K. Love (2580)
  3. T. Mozgov (2450)
  4. K. Bryant (2435)
  5. C. Delfino (2337)
  1. L. James (2239)
  2. R. Allen (2176)
  3. J. Embiid (2067)
  4. A. Davis (2025)
  5. D. Waiters (1991)