Heat vs. Spurs: Biggest Underachievers in 2013 NBA Finals

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVJune 10, 2013

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 09:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts in the third quarter while taking on the Miami Heat during Game Two of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For every overachiever like LeBron James or Tony Parker, there's a player who isn't producing up to his standards in the 2013 NBA Finals, and it's time to point them out after two games.

While we've seen two very different games in this series that is tied 1-1, some storylines have remained constant through both games, and a handful of names have caught attention for all of the wrong reasons.

With presumably five games left, there's still plenty of time for any guy on this list to turn things around. But they better not wait long to do so, as the series is shifting to San Antonio, and the momentum is waiting to be shifted as well.

Let's take a look at players who aren't performing like they need to so far in these NBA Finals.


Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs

The most under-appreciated member of San Antonio's Big Three went from sparsely used in Game 1 to nearly invisible in Game 2. The Spurs can't have such mediocre production from the Argentinian if they want any shot at dethroning the Heat.

Sure, Ginobili's role has been diminished in recent seasons, and maybe it's unfair to deem him on the same level as Tim Duncan and Parker. But he's still expected to keep up his responsibility, which is to bring energy and scoring efficiency off the bench, hit shots and create offense.

He's been doing very few of each so far against the Heat, shooting four-for-11 in Game 1 and following up with a two-of-six shooting performance Sunday. He finished minus-23 for the contest and played about 12 fewer minutes than he did in the series opener. 

And with three turnovers to one assist, Ginobili's ability to facilitate for his teammates is in huge disarray at the moment, too.

We haven't seen anything near Ginobili's best in these playoffs, but he's been solid enough to keep his team winning. However, the more he struggles, the tougher things get for San Antonio's core, and that presented itself in Game 2.


Chris Bosh, Miami Heat

This is a tough call to make, considering Bosh had a big bounce-back performance in Game 2 when he posted a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds on six-of-10 shooting.

However, it's just the start as far as Bosh erasing his massive struggles against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals and in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Bosh was a non-factor on the boards in the Pacers series, averaging fewer than five rebounds per contest while getting bulldozed around the paint by Roy Hibbert seemingly all series long. His inability to impact the game there caused Bosh to force his game to the perimeter, where he's been largely unable to affect games even with his improving jump shot.

The Heat better hope that Bosh's Game 2 turnaround is a sign of things to come, due to how much his shooting percentage affects their chances of winning (per ESPN Stats and Information). 

Game 1 of the Finals brought with it a chance for Bosh to erase memories of going three-for-13 in Game 7 against the Pacers, but he continued his struggles by going six-for-16 and grabbing only five boards. He took as many three-pointers as specialist Ray Allen (four), only he missed all of themincluding an open look late in the fourth quarter that would've cut the Spurs lead to one.

Bosh's rebound performance in Game 2 will offer the big man plenty of positives to focus on as the series shifts to Texas, but the fact is Bosh needs to continue to play like the center he is and rack up double-doubles like it's his job (which it sort of is) from here on out.


Tiago Splitter, San Antonio Spurs

Spurs starter Tiago Splitter might've made the all-time highlight reel for the wrong reason in Game 2 with this humiliating failed dunk attempt over LeBron James, but his struggles go way deeper than his exaggerated belief that he can throw one down over The King. 

Splitter came into the playoffs with a chance to be a real X-factor for his team, as he gets plenty of playing time without ever being featured in the offense. That tends to allow players the ability to sneak into the picture when the other team forgets about them.

Gregg Popovich hoped to capitalize on this matchup, but so far the Brazilian big man hasn't delivered. 

Splitter has played between 22 and 25 minutes in both games, but he has almost nothing statistically to show for it. He put up seven points and two rebounds in Game 1 despite being on the court for 24:48. He was even worse in Game 2, posting four points and grabbing only one board even though he was being left on the blocks for about half of the game. 

More important than the numbers, though, is Splitter's minimal impact on the game. His defense at the rim hasn't really deterred the Heat's game plan, and if anything, they're targeting Splitter while on offense. 

I'm not saying that the Spurs need a double-double from Splitter or for him to be San Antonio's biggest contributor. That's both unrealistic and impossible. But they need him to hold his own, frustrate Miami's big men and find open lanes to cut and score—similar to what Chris Andersen is able to do for the Heat.

If Splitter continues to be a dud in this series and Miami's reserve big men continue to step up, it'll be yet another advantage for the Heat.


Shane Battier, Miami Heat

While the series is still young for the first three players I mentioned (as they'll all have plenty of playing time to figure out their struggles), the same cannot be said for Shane Battier.

Battier was a huge part of Miami's rotation through the first two series of the Heat's playoff run, when he averaged 24.5 minutes per game against the Bucks and 21.8 per game against the Bulls. But his shot took an ugly turn for the worse in the Indiana series.

To figure out just how ugly of a turn we're talking about, put it into perspective that Battier shot worse than 15 percent in the entire series, most of those shots coming from downtown. When you look at it like that, there's no surprise that he wasn't played a single minute in the decisive Game 7. 

Miami's three-point sharpshooter went from a menace from beyond the arc to a player hardly worth guarding, and the lack of Battier's most dangerous threat made his value to head coach Erik Spoelstra diminish greatly. His defensive toughness and basketball I.Q. were still on point, but he couldn't shoot and compounded that with some bad fouls.

It surely didn't feel great for Battier to be benched in the middle of an NBA Finals run, but I didn't know it was nearly as bad as how Battier himself described it (per The Score). 

Luckily for the Heat, they have the type of depth that makes Battier's struggles seem so much smaller than they really are. All they had to do was throw in Mike Miller, and the sharpshooting trait was back in action.

It's unfortunate to see Battier struggle so much in this playoff run after giving the team such a huge boost in the championship run last year, but it just goes to show how huge the value of an accurate shot is. 


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