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NBA Finals Spurs vs. Heat Game 4 preview: Miami better bring serious defensive pressure

Jun 12, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

LeBron James, Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade LeBron James, Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade

MIAMI — Three games into the Finals between the Heat and Spurs, this is what I think we’ve learned:

When Miami brings its peak defensive pressure, it is better than San Antonio. Not a lot, but better.

However that peak Miami defense does not show up consistently while the Spurs’ offensive execution is Terminator relentless. It will not stop, ever. It’s not just the stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, it’s Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green and Patty Mills. That’s what we saw in Game 3, a Heat team that entered the game without urgency, giving the Spurs’s shooters a little space and that is all they needed to get hot.

When Heat take their foot off the gas — even a little — the Spurs ball movement going from strong  to weak side and their smart cuts put too much pressure on the Miami defense. This leads to breakdowns and good looks for the Spurs who are shooting the ball at a ridiculously high level. When the Spurs gain confidence because the ball is moving, executing efficiently and their shots are falling there is nothing the Heat can do.

Which brings us to Game 4 — will Miami bring a sense of urgency and the needed defensive pressure? And if the Heat do for how many minutes of the 48 will they keep it up?

The fear of going down 3-1 should motivate the Heat to bring the defensive pressure from the opening tip. Should. You can point to the Heat not losing back-to-back playoff games since roughly the Nixon administration to show how they raise their level of play when challenged, or you can point to the Heat’s effort in Game 2 and you’d be right.

But coming out of the East, Miami never faced a team that would punish it for its lapses like the Spurs can and will. Miami didn’t spend the season building great habits on the defensive end of the floor. They flipped the switch when they needed to and got wins.

San Antonio puts pressure on that Heat defense for a full 48 minutes because of its ball movement — even at the Heat’s peak they’re not going to stop the Spurs entirely. What Miami can do is make it difficult by making sure the extra pass doesn’t happen in a straight line and make the windows for those passes very tight, leading to steals and turnovers that would fuel Miami’s runs.

The Heat are going to need another big game from LeBron James and I expect they get it. He can raise his level to one nobody else in the NBA can match, but he’s going to need some help — Chris Bosh (who has had a good series), Dwyane Wade (who has been fine, but not special) and Ray Allen have to step up.

Plus, getting anything of quality out of Mario Chalmers would be huge — he has been awful but Erik Spoelstra doesn’t have a lot of other options. Norris Cole isn’t built for big minutes, and when the Heat go with their no-point-guard look it presents some real matchup challenges (like Wade trying to guard Tony Parker).

Scoring points has not been Miami’s problem; it is clicking on that end well enough to win.

As John Schuhmann of put it well, this series has come down to a race between the Spurs ball movement and the Heat’s rotations. The ball movement has won two of the three.

The pressure is on Miami now to bring its peak defense, for 48 minutes. If not, it will be in a lot of trouble heading back to San Antonio.

  1. bucrightoff - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    The pressure is on Miami now to bring its peak defense, for 48 minutes. If not, they will be in a lot of trouble heading back to Miami.

    I think, maybe, it took me two minutes to read the article. Meaning that in two minutes it could have been proofred and then mistakes like this wouldn’t happen. But I digress…

    • kb2408 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:10 PM


    • hickoryhigh - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Seriously. It’s not like this is BREAKING NEWS. Nobody is gonna beat PBT to the ‘scoop’. Take a second and reread it before you post it.

    • eugenesaxe1 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      Maybe you should “proofred” your posts.

  2. heat256 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Based off of last game, “moderate” defensive pressure will be an upgrade.

  3. kb2408 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    But seriously…the “Heatles” better win tonight. I am PREDICTING they will be going back to Texas down 3-1. Wade is washed up (just watch him, he looks like he’s moving in slow motion), LeBron is worn down, and who knows which Bosh is going to show up. I’m hearing they might start Haslem or Battier but those dudes can’t even beat out Birdman, how much can they really have left?!! I even heard they might play Wade at the point…talk about desperate times!! Miami would NEVER get in their offense if they do that! Even if Miami wins tonight the Spurs will win games 5 and 6. But I see the Spurs winning tonight. Miami hasn’t lost 2 in a row since the Mavs spanked them, it’s time!! The Spurs smell blood in the water….

    • money2long - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      Anti was mocking San Antonio when they made a lineup change.

      • spthegr8 - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:30 PM

        Anti is Sooooo blinded by his LBJ man love. He thinks the Heat are up 2-1!!

      • antistratfordian - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        You’re too shortsighted. Making a change like that so early in a series is very telling. Suffice it to say that Pop saw what I saw and knew he had to do something different or perish. But it only delays the inevitable – the reasons for Pop panicking are still there.

      • bucrightoff - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        You’re shortsighted because LeBron blew it in your eye last night.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      You never learn, do you? You keep making the same mistake every series – and every year, actually. What do they call people who do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result? Insane?

      • jkirby317 - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        Pop saw what you saw?
        Pop has forgotten more about basketball than you ever knew about anything.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        No he hasn’t. And yes, he saw what I saw. Problem?

      • jkirby317 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        No he hasn’t? Great response. That one is right up there with “nuh-uh”

      • antistratfordian - Jun 12, 2014 at 5:16 PM

        Well that response was appropriate for your generic statement about someone forgetting more than another person had ever known, blah blah blah. Was I supposed to take that seriously?

      • jkirby317 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        Yea, you clearly have some problems.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 12, 2014 at 5:16 PM

        You want some pepper with all that salt, Pacers fan?

      • jkirby317 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        Heat are going down tonight… are you prepping excuses now?
        Did they work too hard in practice?

      • antistratfordian - Jun 12, 2014 at 5:17 PM


      • jkirby317 - Jun 13, 2014 at 9:17 AM

        Where are you on this fine morning, Heat Supporter?
        Better wear your LeBron jersey all week because it will be useless after that.
        I bet you had a great night “researching” your new team.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 13, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        My new team is the same as my old team. Team LeBron.

      • jkirby317 - Jun 13, 2014 at 7:15 PM

        Thanks for admitting it AFTER the “team you supported” is getting spanked. You prove my point once again that the HEAT do not have fans.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 13, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        I have never not admitted that. I was saying the same thing when he was on Cleveland.

    • spursfan4life - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      I am a huge Spurs fan, but I don’t get the whole Wade thing… Why is he not playing up to par? It will be interesting to see how Kawhi performs tonight.

  4. timcast12 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    The Miami Heat will fail to win the championship, then I can watch Lebron cry once again

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 12, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      He’ll cry if they lose too…

      So either way you’ll get to see him cry again…

  5. zblott - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Heat will win on the back of Joey Crawford’s efforts tonight. 1) When he refs, home teams that are down in a playoff series win an abnormally high % of the time. 2) When he refs, fan favorite teams with superstars win an abnormally high % of the time. 3) When he refs, the Spurs lose an abnormally high % of the time.

    Bet the farm on Miami to win, and expect Kawhi Leonard and possibly some other important Spurs to get plenty of early fouls that shackle their abilities to play a fair game.

    • reesesteel23 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      Nice. A told ya so post justtt incase Miami actually wins.

    • heat256 - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Because that’s what happened in Game 3 right?

      • zblott - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        Uhhhh, Joey Crawford didn’t work Game 3.

      • heat256 - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Uhhh, they were still the home team and really never got the “benefit” of calls that home teams usually get.

      • zblott - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        I guess you don’t understand who Joey Crawford is and what his role for the NBA is.

      • heat256 - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        I guess you like to trot out inane conspiracy “theories” that only exist in your limited intellect. I know people need a convenient excuse should the Heat win (Fixed! Dirty play! Aliens!), but there is no vested interest in the NBA “allowing” the Heat to win. You think Pop would go along with anything that wasn’t on the up and up? C’mon man.

  6. ahash1 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    seriously ? can you consider Miami’s offense ? ‘scoring points has not been Miami’s problem’ umm.. REMINDER, they didn’t break the 100 pts till now.. 95, 98, 92..

    • antistratfordian - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      The 100 point threshold is nothing more than an arbitrary demarcation point; it’s easy for people to wrap their head around. But scoring 98 points on 87 possessions – as Miami did in Game 2 – gave them a 112.4 rating in Offensive Efficiency, which, if they averaged that over the course of the playoffs, would give them the #1 ranked offense in the postseason.

      And guess what? They have averaged that. Miami still has the #1 ranked offense in the postseason.

      • hickoryhigh - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        As long as the scoreboard tracks total points, and not points per possession, I’ll take a high scoring, yet inefficient offense over a low scoring, efficient offense any day of the week.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 12, 2014 at 5:11 PM

        Neat. I wouldn’t. Not in a million years. All the teams with high scoring inefficient offenses are on vacation right now.

  7. money2long - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Kawhi-et storm

  8. reesesteel23 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    Heat by 35. Parker and Duncan sit by 3 minute mark in 3rd.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      At what point do the Heat “fans” leave early?

      • reesesteel23 - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Don’t know. Don’t care. I’m watching the game not the fans. Heat fans don’t anger me enough to troll them.

    • jkirby317 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      The Heat have not come CLOSE to outscoring the SPURS by a point in this series…What makes you think they will be +35 in one game?
      Old age? Too much Drakkar noir? Is your dyed hair running into your brain?

      • reesesteel23 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        I don’t believe my own prediction, so take it for what its worth. This site is a lot better though when the Heat haters hide. They flood, what’s supposed to be, a place to actually talk about the articles and debate….ya know……

      • jkirby317 - Jun 13, 2014 at 9:15 AM

        it’s not an article.. it is a blog at best. There are only like 145 words.
        If you don’t believe your prediction… why post it?
        Lastly, the Heat do not have fans. You proved that when you said you did not believe YOUR prediction.
        Have fun following LBJ to a new team next season…

  9. phillysports1 - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    I predicted spurs in 6 before it all got started and Ginobli for finals MVP..
    Ginobli will have a huge night tonight in MIA ! Write it down !

  10. Nadeem - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    In spite of the great shooting by the Spurs in Game 3, they still have not put together a complete game. In game 3, the 3rd quarter was terrible and 4th quarter was normal. I have a feeling that game 4 is where it will all come together for the Spurs.

    The Heat have been far too overconfident for their own good for far too long.

  11. davidly - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Won’t predict a Spurs series win because it might not happen. What I will predict is that, if the Spurs do win it, anti will go on about how the Heat stars are better — you know, the guys who have been outscored in the series so far 93-64 in the 1st and 79-55 in the 4th quarters.

  12. wallabear - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    LeKing & Co., dey gon’-git-it 2nite. Bosh-o-saurus or Birdman, please stay under the basket so you can get the rebounds (rolling eyes)

  13. cantonbound13 - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Go Spurs!

  14. papichulo55 - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Dont know if its possible, but I would love to see Randle learn from Kobe! With Kobe’s work-habits and competitiveness, Randle would quickly become a left-handed monster!

    • spursareold - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      Are we in the wrong thread?

      • papichulo55 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Yes, sorry wrong thread. Doing a study of comments using different devices and browsers. Windows 7, Explorer and Firefox, Apple IOS on an iPad, Browesr on the iPad, Safari on Mac, and Chrome Browser on an Android phone. Not really surprised that comments are showing up on one platform and not the other. Good to know that missing comments can be a technical issue and not censorship.

    • thundercocck - Jun 12, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      Kobe will tell Randle to get more accolades before they can talk.

  15. sdlakerfan - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Expecting Miami to come out swinging tonight. I think it will be chippy and hard fought. Spurs won’t be getting all the loose balls tonight. They’ll find a way to get Lebron to the rim and make some defensive adjustments. Expect Miami to win by 10-20 pts. Game 5 will be the pivotal game in the series.

    • spursareold - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      If Miami wins, it won’t be by 10-20. They’ve showed no ability to outplay the Spurs over 48 consecutive minutes by that margin. This is their 3rd game in 5 days. I expect good energy to start, but for them to flag as the game goes on. Their principles will have to play 40 minutes or close to that. Expect a lot of heavy iron for Miami late in the game.

  16. spursareold - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    When the Heat’s defense is forced to rotate three times, they get all scattery and miss rotations. By trapping Parker, you’re AUTOMATICALLY conceding one rotation when he gives up the ball. After giving up the ball, usually to Diaw, you really only have to rotate them twice. Most teams don’t have that luxury against the Heat. Diaw can usually force the second rotation with a drive and kick.

    If you don’t trap Parker, he’s going to go off. If you go small, SA has two mismatches: Duncan/Bosh and Diaw/whoever he’s going to post up at will. If you go big, Diaw pulls his man out of the paint like a SF. He can shoot or dribble/create.

  17. cantonbound13 - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    LeGina needs 2 more all stars to get a 3rd ring & pad his fake legacy. It’s not so easy to win without David Stern interfering.

    • miaheat305 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      You’re a poor excuse, even for a Knicks fan…….

      • jkirby317 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        and you like the Heat so your not even a fan. Just a supporter.
        He do not have fans. The term fan comes from the word FANATIC.
        What is fanatic about that support group? Nothing.

  18. jzone954 - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    The spurs are a brilliant team , well coached. Even if Miami wins this series I have nothing but the upmost respect for the organization, it’s players, and it’s coaches. How no one has tried to pluck and land some of their coaching staff to be head coaches is beyond me. Playing these guys 2 years in a row has been something amazing. And in order to be the best we have to beat the best, so far we are 1-0 and down this year 1-2. Let see how we rally.

  19. JT - Jun 12, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Spo better pray Chalmers snaps out it tonight.

    I picked the Spurs in 6 so hopefully that comes true

  20. jimeejohnson - Jun 12, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    They’re showing the San Antonio Man Vs. Food episode; San Antonio in 5! Sarcasm intended, but only about the 5.

  21. sportsfan18 - Jun 12, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    Two proud championship caliber teams…

    Spurs WANT it more than the Heat…

    Yeah, I know they are chasing a three-peat and all, but we all saw their effort in game 3 at home… not having lost at home this post season, with a chance to put the screws to the Spurs and go up 2 games to 1 after having taken a game on the Spurs floor to grab home court back…

    They fell flat and gave home court right back. Keep giving teams more chances and it will come and back and bite you.

    The Heat pulled one out last year in game 6, down by 5 with less than 30 seconds left…

    The Heat should have come out and played better in their first Finals game at home this series after having split on the road in San Antonio.

    People keep talking about Wade being broken, flopping by Manu, Wade, Lebron, the Heat’s D and on and on…

    It’s more simple that all of that.

    The Spurs WANT it more than the HEAT do…

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