NBA Commentary: After A Blowout Loss In Game Two of the NBA Finals, Is It Time For the San Antonio Spurs to Panic?
Games 1 and 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
After two very entertaining games in the 2013 NBA Finals, the series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat is even at 1-1. Well let me take that back. If you're a Spurs fan like myself, you probably didn't find game 2 very entertaining. A lot of people that I consider to be casual sports fans where shocked when the Spurs came into Miami in game one, and were able to steal a victory in a very closely contested game. The victory came courtesy of an intriguing play, that featured Spurs point guard Tony Parker stumbling several times while dribbling the ball, only to sink a difficult shot that barely beat the shot clock. The shot by Parker ended any hopes of Miami winning game one.
Being that I don't consider myself a casual sports fan, I wasn't surprised at all that the Spurs took game one. I'm not just saying that as a Spurs fan either. The Spurs hung around for the entire game, and never allowed the Heat to go up by double digits. They carefully orchestrated their game plan, and made their move in the fourth quarter. Coming into the series, many people felt like the Spurs extended amount of rest the Spurs had after sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies would cause them to be rusty. I actually think the rest helped them in game one, and hurt a fatigued Miami team after a rigorous seven game series against the Indiana Pacers.
Moving forward to game two - which took place this past Sunday, Miami would go on to defeat the Spurs 103-84. Despite the blowout loss, the Spurs only trailed by 5 points at the half. However, Miami went on a 14-3 midway through the third quarter, and carried a 10 point lead into the 4th. In the early minutes of the 4th quarter, the Heat sensed that the Spurs were on their heels. Miami turned on the Heat and went in for the knockout blow - which they done successfully as evidenced by the final score.
After only two games in a potentially long seven games series, people are feeling that the tides are turning already. I've been reading various blogs and articles, and there seems to be a sense that it's time for the Spurs to panic after losing game two in the manner they did. I think the idea of the Spurs panicking at this point is laughable, and I'm not only saying that as a fan of theirs. I'm going to lay out why I don't feel it's time for San Antonio to panic in the next few paragraphs.
The San Antonio Spurs are a Veteran Team.
I know and realize that the Miami Heat are the NBA's most popular team based on the fact that LeBron James is a member. However, what people must realize is that the San Antonio Spurs are a veteran team that knows what a hard fought series is all about. It appears that people are forgetting that the Spurs are previously four time NBA Champions. Although the faces of their roster has changed during their championship runs, there have been three constants; Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobilli, and head coach Gregg Popovich. All three of them have been with the Spurs during their past championship teams.
Lets take a look back at the 2005 NBA Finals between the Spurs and the Detroit Pistons. San Antonio came into that series with the home court advantage, and won both games 1 and 2. However, they were blown out by the Pistons in both games 3 and 4. They narrowly edged out game 5 before dropping game 6. The series ended up going seven games, with the Spurs taking it 4 games to 3. The Spurs 2003 championship run went 6 games in the finals against the New Jersey Nets.
Now you may ask yourself; what does all of this mean? Well it means that the San Antonio Spurs as an organization aren't strangers to an NBA Finals series going into the later games. They've proved that they are capable of winning in hard fought series. The confidence of winning in tough championship series in the past alone should be ample reason for people to believe that the San Antonio Spurs haven't panicked after only two games in a seven game series.
Home Court Advantage Lies With the Spurs At this Moment.
No matter how you cut it, the home court advantage in sports definitely plays a factor. Teams generally play better on their own floors, fields, and stadiums in professional sports. When the Spurs took game one away from the Miami Heat, they also stole the home court advantage as well. As I mentioned in my previous article here, I felt that the Spurs would win the series if they were able to get at least one out of the first two games in Miami.
Starting tonight, the series will shift to San Antonio for the next three games. If the Spurs are able to protect their home floor, this series will be over with. Now as important as home court is in a series such as this, it's the teams that win on the road that pull out these close series. Now I'll give the Miami Heat credit, they have proven that they can win on the road in the playoffs. They did win a game against the Indiana Pacers on the road, and they won two road games against the Chicago Bulls. However, neither the Pacers nor the Bulls are the San Antonio Spurs.
The Pacers are a very talented team, but they don't have the experience, veteran leadership, nor the coaching like the Spurs. Chicago is a great team as well, but they were playing with an injury depleted team. The bottom line is this; it's going to be much harder for Miami to win on the road against San Antonio, compared to any other teams they've played thus far in the 2013 playoffs. With the home floor advantage in their favor for the next three games, I don't see any reason why the Spurs should be panicking at this moment.
Game 2 Was A Must Win For Miami.
Game two was basically a must win scenario for the Miami Heat, so it didn't surprise me much when they won in the fashion they did. Now as much as I don't like the Heat, I'll give them credit for one thing; they've basically made any team that has beaten them in a game during the 2013 playoffs pay dearly in the following game. Lets take a look back at the Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat series.
The Bulls edged out a 93-86 victory over the Miami Heat in game one of that series. In game two, Miami bounced back in a huge fashion winning 115-78 over the Bulls. The Bulls kept game two close up until the Heat went on a 13-3 run to close out the second quarter. Miami controlled the game from that point on, and would go on to close out the Bulls in five games. For another example of how the Heat have responded after a loss, lets look at couple of games in their series against the Pacers.
The Pacers beat Miami in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami responded back in game three by thrashing the Pacers 114-96. After losing game six to the Pacers, the Heat would trounce on the Pacers 99-76 in game seven to win the series. The point that I'm trying to make is that the Heat seem to play better following a loss. Their role players played a huge role in game two against the Spurs. Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, and Ray Allen all were on fire from behind the three point line.
Chalmers finished with a game high 19 points, and Mike Miller was 3-3 from three point range. It's unlikely that Chalmers will have another game where he is Miami's leading scorer, so the Spurs shouldn't expect that every night going forward. Chalmers, along with Miller and Allen were just hot on this particular night, and the Heat were desperate for a win. With the right adjustments, the Spurs should be fine going forward.
Should There Be Panic Within the Spurs Organization?
So should the San Antonio Spurs be panicking after game two? I personally don't believe so based on what I've seen. I think Miami's victory didn't do anything but reset the series all over again. Overall, the Spurs shot an anemic 41% from the field in game 2. The big three of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli, and Tim Duncan were just 10-33 combined from the field. You can't expect the Spurs veteran players to play poorly two games straight.
If there is anything that the Spurs can be encouraged about from game 2 is their three point shooting. Although Miami shot 52.6% from downtown, the Spurs weren't far behind shooting right at 50%. Spurs guard Danny Green was 5-5 from three point range, and led the team with 17 points. Green's performance in game two should help his confidence going forward, and if he's able to shoot like that in the coming games, I think the Spurs will be okay provided their key players show up unlike they did in game two.
I think that a lot of people are reading too much into Miami's victory in game 2. As I mentioned previously, San Antonio knows how to grit it out in a long series. I don't think the Spurs are panicking whatsoever. They'll most likely do what they've done in the past, which is make adjustments, and respond with a better outing. Game three of the NBA Finals takes place tonight. I think that this game will be more of an indicator on where this series is going compared to game 2.
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