Monday, June 10, 2013

NBA Finals: Miami Heat have boundaries to overcome in San Antonio

The Miami Heat answered all their previous problems by drowning the San Antonio Spurs in a 33-5 run.  However, at the end of the day, Miami capitalized on a must-win game and ultimately evened up the series.  Now, it’s time to take their talents to San Antonio, where the fans are eagerly waiting their arrival.
There are positives and negatives we can take from the first two games.  We’ll start with the negatives because it’s always best to end on a good note.
The first point I’d like to bring up is the fact that LeBron James is struggling to finish plays at the rim.  Although that didn’t seem to bother Miami in game 2 because of their spot-on three-point shooting, James will have to finish plays, sooner or later.  We all know the saying, “you live and die by the three point shot.”  In game 2, Miami was fortunate enough to have a brilliant passer like James create space for his shooters.  However, shots aren’t always going to fall.
There will be situations in the next couple games where James will have to serve as the go-to guy, and he fills that role best when he is aggressively attacking the basket.  If I had to bet, I would say that Miami won’t shoot over 50 percent from beyond the arc next game.  Both, the Heat and the Spurs, will have times when they’re comfortably hitting threes, but both teams will need their star players to rise to the challenge at important times in the game.
I’m not saying that LeBron relying on his passing skills to find outside shooters is bad.  In fact, it is great, because it just presents more challenges for the Spurs on defense.  However, in San Antonio, Miami won’t find gaining momentum as easy as they did in game 2.  It won’t always be as simple as LeBron driving the ball and kicking it out to an open teammate.
The next problem would be Dwyane Wade.  Wade isn’t a superstar, by any means, anymore.  The way he’s playing right now, it’s tough to even call him an all-star.  He still has a ton of skill but he clearly lacks the energy and athleticism he had in his heyday.
Let me make something clear: Wade absolutely doesn’t have to suddenly turn into the player he used to be because I don’t think that’s going to happen.  However, Miami would greatly benefit from Wade making crucial plays and him serving as a consistent second-flight player.  We need to see a little more oomph from D-Wade in the next couple games.
That brings me to my point about what Miami has to continue doing well when they play these next three games in San Antonio.  Every time Miami’s role players step up as a whole, it takes some pressure off both Wade and LeBron.  The reason I say Wade needs to perform better is because Miami can’t start to get over-reliant on their role players.  Assuming Wade can step up his play, the role players, such as Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers, need to do just the right amount.
Miami’s role players really aren’t asked to do much and they differentiate by game.  In game 2, Mike Miller played a significant part in the blowout with his perfect 3-3 three-point shooting.  Next game, Udonis Haslem might hit six shots or Mario Chalmers might have another great game.
My point is that a few role players just have to calmly knock down their open shots like they did in game 2.  They can always count on LeBron to provide them with opportunities to get those open shots.
Lastly, Miami’s defense needs to stay on it’s toes in San Antonio.  They did an excellent job of forcing turnovers in the second half of game 2.  Turnovers are killers for any team playing the Heat because Miami’s athleticism usually causes a result of two or three points, back the other way.
James and Bosh each had three steals last game.  Bosh isn’t a particularly strong post defender, but he did a great job of denying Tim Duncan the ball.  As for LeBron James, he is like a cat on the lookout to catch a mouse.  Any opportunity LeBron sees, he snatches the ball and is off and running.  The Spurs love to set picks to free up space, but last game, Miami anticipated the Spurs’ next move as they were able to cleanly get around the screens.
So there you have it.  What we need to see from the Miami Heat is the appropriate balance of four components: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, the role players, and the team as a defensive unit.

Follow me on Twitter @ZJTbasketball11

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