With Game 1 of the NBA Finals in the books, the Miami Heat lost home court advantage, and are on the pressure cooker once again headed into Game 2.
Heat fans were enjoying a series being nil-nil, until the San Antonio Spurs stole the fourth quarter, fueled by a masterful performance by Tony Parker and a time machine performance by Tim Duncan. ESPN's SportsCenter Twitter account details their impact in the fourth quarter:
Both teams learned some lessons from their Game-1 matchup, and will utilize them in their adjustments. Here’s some educated guesses on what tinkering we can expect during the rest of this series.
Spurs: Bring Tim Duncan Out to the Elbow More Often
After holding the Heat to a 16-point fourth quarter, the Spurs didn’t even play their best basketball. They missed a few chip-shot layups early, and were outrebounded by Miami.
Yet, what is there to adjust when the Spurs pulled out a gritty win on the road? Well, it’s something they had success with: putting Tim Duncan at the elbow.
Duncan only shot 8-for-19 from the floor, but hit the mid-range jumper consistently throughout the game.
Those makes made the Heat respect that jumper all night, allowing San Antonio to spread the floor for Tony Parker to penetrate in the final period.
Parker will be able to get into the lane in this series, but that doesn’t mean he’ll have many clean looks. That’s where Duncan comes into play. His jump shooting forces a Heat big out of the paint, and can get matchup advantages in pick-and-roll situations.
A small increase in Duncan at the elbow from here on out will give the Spurs better shots in the paint.
Heat: The Big Three Need To Attack the Rim
The game plan worked down the stretch, whether it had to do with physical atrophy from the Indiana series or that there were open shooters in the corner.
The fruits of the Spurs strategy could not have been more apropos on a key Heat possession late in the game, down two points.
As you can see, four bodies surround LeBron when he drives to the hoop, surrendering a deep Bosh jumper.
Even better, since Bosh has aligned himself behind the three-point line, the Spurs will gladly accept a shot he took less times than there are NBA games.
With the Spurs and Pacers packing the paint, the result, more often than not, is Miami settling for off-the-dribble jumpers. In Game 1, nine of 15 shots by Wade were jumpers, and Bosh went 0-for-4 from three. To make matters worse, those are low-percentage shots for them.
This isn’t an adjustment for just Bosh, though. All three Heat stars need to commit to getting in better positions and taking shots in the paint.
In Game 7 against Indiana, it got Roy Hibbert in foul trouble. In the first half of Game 1 versus the Spurs, that strategy got Tim Duncan in foul trouble.
All together, committing to the drive will make shots turn into fouls, or equal a good contested look.