There are plenty of questions that need to be answered after the disappearance of the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Despite what turned out to be a final score of 103-84, the game was very hard fought. Grantland's Zach Lowe put the narrative of the game best:
The story of the game was the magnificence of Kawhi and Green, and then some stuff happened, and holy cow look at that score.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 10, 2013
Sure, San Antonio is on the back foot now. However, if they play like they did in Game 1 and for two-and-a-half quarters in Game 2, the Spurs still have a great chance to take this series over the long haul.
Miami got a huge win to get themselves back in the Finals. If they win in San Antonio, the Heat will have put themselves in the driver's seat and taken back home-court advantage.
As you'd expect, both head coaches will have plenty to work on in order to iron out their team's key flaws. These would be good places to start.
San Antonio Spurs: Figuring Out Where Has Manu Ginobili Gone
Each one of San Antonio's Big Three had an off night. Gregg Popovich was blunt in his post-game press conference when asked what the Spurs' problems were in Game 2, per SportsCenter:
"Tony, Manu and Timmy are the ones that were 10-33. I'm not going to put that on the bench" - Gregg Popovich— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 10, 2013
No star was a bigger disappointment than Manu Ginobili. Simply put, he was awful. He had no urgency, no determination and no desire to win. Manu only finished with five points and three assists.
It's probably a good thing he ran into foul trouble, otherwise he would have had to spend more time on the court.
You could forgive Ginobili if he was giving maximum effort and just made mistakes. Unfortunately, he looked apathetic, as if he couldn't care less whether the Spurs won or lost.
The demeanor was such a departure from the Manu of old. No one will expect to see the dynamic scorer and playmaker of years past, but injury and age shouldn't take away from a player's mentality.
There's no need for Ginobili to save himself for later games at this point. The situation is not going to get any bigger than this.
If the Spurs are going to win the Finals, they'll need the Big Three to improve, but none more so than their former Sixth Man of the Year. He still plays a big role in this team, and he should have more than enough left in the tank to offer production on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
Without Ginobili, San Antonio has little chance of matching up with the Heat and stopping shooters like Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller. In addition, they'll be missing a player who can hit some key three-pointers and get his teammates involved with his passing.
Miami Heat: LeBron James Shouldering More of the Scoring Load
LeBron James hasn't played poorly in this series. In fact, he's been rather tremendous.
LBJ has been exerting himself heavily on the defensive end. He had three blocks and three steals in Game 2, and that denial on Thiago Splitter was a thing of beauty.
The only problem is that James isn't scoring like he was coming into the Finals.
Part of the reason is that he's helping on pick-and-rolls. Miami used that to great effect on Sunday night, per ESPN Stats and Info:
Heat: 6--7, 16 pts on pick-and-roll plays with Mario Chalmers handling & LeBron James screening during a 33-5 run in Game 2. (0-4 in Game 1)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 10, 2013
Another reason is that Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green have been doing a great job limiting James and cutting off his paths to the basket. LBJ has simply changed his game and become more of a creator. He had 10 assists in Game 1 and seven in Game 2.
Going to San Antonio, the Heat might not be able to rely on 19 points from Mario Chalmers and 13 points from Ray Allen every night. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also don't look themselves. Given their overall performance in the playoffs, you wonder what their ceiling will be.
Looking at the final score of Game 2, you would have thought Miami dominated the game from start to finish. Instead, it was that run across the third and fourth quarters that propelled the Heat to victory. The Spurs were able to keep close because LeBron was having a hard time getting points for himself.
Looking ahead, it's hard to see the Spurs continuing to lose if James is held to under 20 points a night. It's hard to be overly critical of him through Games 1 and 2, but it's fair to expect him to contribute a little more in terms of scoring.
James is so good at getting his teammates involved. At some point, though, he's going to need to take this series over and get to the basket.