Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs: Game 4 Postgame Grades and Analysis
Led by monstrous performances from LeBron and Wade, the Heat evened the NBA Finals at two games apiece with a convincing 109-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Heat came out slow in the first quarter, trailing by double digits early on. A quick regroup saw them retake the lead before the period was over.
San Antonio pushed back in the second quarter, tying the game up at 49 before heading into the locker room. That effort carried over to the third quarter, though the Spurs entered the fourth down by five.
LeBron, Wade and Bosh then took over. They combined for 25 of the Heat's 28 fourth-quarter points, outscoring the Spurs on their own.
With the series now guaranteed to head back to Miami for a Game 6 (at least), the Heat have to be feeling good. The Spurs, though? Not so much.
Mario Chalmers, MIA: B-
And Mario Chalmers is on the board!
After being held scoreless in Game 3, Chalmers scored his first points midway through the third quarter of Game 4. Before that, he was 0-of-2 from the floor and having an awful night.
Though his defense was solid, he couldn't get going on the offensive end for most of the game, seemingly cognizant of his struggles. He coughed up the ball four times and really didn't work the pick-and-roll well.
A late third-quarter surge helped ensure Chalmers finished with six points in what was on pace to be a less-than-mediocre night. He also had five assists and four rebounds.
Miami would like to see him contribute more than six points, but hey, those were six points more than he scored in Game 3.
Tony Parker, SAS: B+
What sore hamstring? That's what we asked in the first half.
Damn that hamstring. That's what we were left saying in the second half.
Tony Parker dropped 15 points and six assists in what was a sensational first half. He wound up finishing with just 15 points and nine assists after a scoreless second half, but his ability to split defenders and get into the paint when San Antonio's pick-and-roll wasn't working properly is what kept the Heat from running away early on.
You had to appreciate his effort on the defensive end as well. He lost Chalmers a few times in the second half, perhaps overly confident that Miami's point man would keep missing. Other than that, he provided some timely help defense on everyone not named Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
The Spurs could have used much more from him in the second half, but credit Parker for not forcing the action. Miami began sending double-teams every time he got a step, and he correctly kept kicking out.
Knowing that he was playing injured, a tip of the hat seems appropriate.
Dwyane Wade, MIA: A+
Likely growing tired of the criticism being hurled his way (some of which came from yours truly), Wade had one of those nights that made you remember why the Heat are always so optimistic about him regaining form.
Attacking like a superstar who wasn't injured, Wade finished with 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and six steals on 14-of-25 shooting. His effort on offense—those off-ball cuts were back—was superb, and it appeared that he was able and willing to run the break again.
While the story was the return of his offense, I was smitten by his defense. Wade was excellent as a help defender against San Antonio's pick-and-rolls. Aside from a few lapses in the second half, he closed the hell out of the Spurs' wings.
More performances like these from Wade, and the Heat may just find themselves hoisting up another Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Danny Green, SAS: B-
So apparently Danny Green actually does miss. Who'd have thought?
Green finished with 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting from the floor, also pitching in four rebounds and four assists. There were times when Green was disconnected from San Antonio's offense, holding the ball too long or remaining idle for possessions at a time, but he still managed to hit on 3-of-5 from behind the rainbow.
His defense got me, though. Like really, really got me. Green is one of the best transition defenders in the game, and it showed. Besides tallying one block and one steal, he made life difficult on Miami beyond the arc, suffocating shooters on the ball and closing out like he always does.
There were a bevy of miscues, though. Green became overly aggressive late in the shot clock and took a few unnecessary risks, the driving force behind his five fouls.
This was no 27-point performance and some mistakes were made, but it was still a solid showing by one of the most underrated players in the game.
Mike Miller, MIA: B
Mike Miller was locked down tight in Game 4.
Miami appeared to use him as more of a diversion, forcing the Spurs to cover him beyond the arc, often leaving LeBron and Wade in single coverage. He missed his only shot and was held scoreless, but his presence alone spaced the floor enough to impact the Heat's offense positively.
Now about his defense—it was awesome.
Miller isn't known for his defense, like at all. Hobbled by a bad back—bad body really—he's not expected to contribute much on that end of the ball. Expecting him to be a liability seems more on point.
In Game 4, he was an asset, coaxing Kawhi Leonard and Green into some ill-advised long twos in the second half.
Not every game can be perfect for Miller. That he was able to play at all, then find a way to help the cause outside of the offense, impressed me.
Kawhi Leonard, SAS: B
To no one's surprise, Leonard had another good game.
Stopping LeBron wasn't an option tonight, but he didn't allow The King's performance to define his.
Leonard finished with 12 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting, defending LeBron, and others, about as well as he could. Double-teams were sent and that didn't prevent the Heat from scoring, so South Beach's big night isn't on young Kawhi.
He did his job on both ends of the floor. Just like he always does.
LeBron James, MIA: A+
This was more like it.
LeBron posted 33 points on 15-of-25 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. He was everything the Heat needed him to be and more.
Playing the 4 suited him. Without Haslem, he was able to post up freely early on and play the two-man game with Wade.
Raise your glass to his stout defensive sets as well. San Antonio wasn't going to go bonkers from deep the way it did in Game 3 with LeBron (and the rest of Miami) closing out without fear. He, along with Chris Bosh, also did an excellent job keeping Tim Duncan off the glass.
Following the Game 3 massacre, LeBron promised to be better. Turns out he kept his word, and then some.
Tim Duncan, SAS: B+
Duncan shot 6-of-10 and put up 20 points, 13 of which came in the second half. With Parker fading down the stretch, he delivered around the basket.
To be honest, it was a wonder he was able to score as much as he did. Miami defended San Antonio's pick-and-roll almost to perfection. You would have expected Duncan to fare worse than he did.
The going wasn't as fulfilling on defense. Duncan swatted away one shot, but the combination of Bosh and LeBron tag-teaming him on the glass proved to be too much for him. He finished with just five rebounds.
San Antonio likely isn't going to lose many games when Duncan goes for 20. Then again, the Spurs aren't going to win many games when he brings down just five boards, either.
Chris Bosh, MIA: A
Bosh, like LeBron and Wade, was excellent in Game 4.
Allowing the offense to come to him courtesy of an aggressive LeBron and Wade, Bosh went 8-of-14 from the field for 20 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
Perhaps the best part about his performance was his defense. He let Parker bury a few easy buckets in the first half, but he was active when defending the pick-and-roll, patrolled the paint like a free safety on a mission and helped limit Duncan and Tiago Splitter to a mere eight rebounds between them.
Wade's struggles have received more press than Bosh's, but make no mistake, he needed an outing like this one.
Tiago Splitter: D
It's difficult to be too hard on Splitter, since he played just 14 minutes.
That said, he was pretty bad during those 14 minutes.
Each of his three shot attempts were unsuccessful, and while he put in all four of his free throws, he complemented those with three turnovers. Miami's interior defense was simply too much for him in this one.
More than a few of LeBron and Wade's drives to the basket went unimpeded by an unsuspecting Splitter, as if he expected them to be as passive as they were in Game 3.
They weren't, Splitter wasn't ready and the Spurs got burned.
Ray Allen, MIA: B
Ray Allen, well, he had an odd night.
He provided a much-needed spark off the bench, going for 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but he was just 1-of-4 from downtown. Most of his offense not only came from inside the arc, but was created by himself.
I'm not sure the NBA is ready for a self-sufficient, paint-assaulting Allen.
Allen was a bit more normal on the defensive end, in that he was pretty bad. Rotations were nonexistent and he kept getting beaten off the dribble.
Still, 14 points on 50 percent shooting isn't something to scoff at, even if those 14 points came in the least 37-year-old-Ray Allen fashion possible.
Manu Ginobili, SAS: D
Manu Ginobili logged 26 minutes in this one, and I only know that because he was so unbelievably bad during those 26 minutes.
Aggressive offense appears to be a foreign concept to the former Sixth Man of the Year. Only one of his five shots found the bottom of the net, and he was unable to step up as a playmaker when Parker began to struggle in the second half. Passive doesn't even begin to describe how hesitant he was.
To make matters worse, he was playing defense with his hands, the antithesis of a Gregg Popovich-coached wing. His feet weren't moving and his motor didn't seem to be running at all.
Hopefully the Spurs find a way to jumpstart Ginobili soon; otherwise it's tough to imagine them beating this version of the Heat twice more.
Miami Heat: B
Erik Spoelstra used his bench sparingly, but he got some solid minutes from the three reserves he went with besides Allen.
Udonis Haslem played just 10 minutes, hitting his only shot and grabbing five rebounds. He played far better than he did in Game 3, especially on defense.
Norris Cole got a tad isolation-happy to close out the second half, but when he finally settled down, his 0-of-4 showing didn't matter. Playmaking and tenacious defense—that's what mattered.
He finished with four assists and two steals in just 19 minutes.
Shane Battier was unable to hit a shot yet again, though he only attempted one in nine minutes. His defense was solid (one block), and he was able to battle down low on certain sets.
I'd like to go on the record now as saying I want to see Chris Andersen in Game 5. Watching him sit for the entire game simply didn't feel right.
San Antonio Spurs: B+
San Antonio's reserves pieced together a nice display here.
Gary Neal stayed hot, hitting 4-of-7 from the field (3-of-4 from deep) for 13 points to go along with three rebounds. I would've liked to have seen the Spurs run more set plays for him coming off screens, though I must credit Miami's defense for guarding against the three rather well.
Matt Bonner drilled his only two shots, neither of which were three-pointers. I know, I'm shocked too.
Boris Diaw was busy during his 11 minutes of action, connecting on 3-of-6 from the field, scoring nine points, grabbing three rebounds and dishing out one dime. Charlotte Bobcats fans are still scratching their heads more than a year later.
Cory Joseph, DeJuan Blair and Nando de Colo combined for 17 minutes and one point, the most un-Spurs stat line ever.
Truthfully, there's not much more San Antonio's bench could have done (Ginobili not included). The Heat were just better than the Spurs in Game 4. Sometimes that happens.