The average basketball fan loves uptempo basketball. Fastbreak 24/7. Seven seconds or less offenses. That style of play is real cute. The Los Angeles Clippers have gave us a great showing for back to back seasons with their Chris Paul-to-Blake Griffin show. That’s all fine and dandy until the playoffs draw near.
Then defense is played, and you know how championships are won?
A half-court, high IQ, “let’s regulate the tempo and maximize our possessions by utilizing the shot clock” offenses.
Sure, the showtime Lakers of the 1980s won championships with such an offense (I touched on this six years ago when writing about the notorious Spurs/Suns playoff series from the 2007 Western Conference semi-finals), but they mindfucked teams on defense, were deep and had length. Not to mention they were tough, which you can’t say the same about the uptempo teams of today. Then again, you could actually play defense and breathe on your opponents back in the ’80s, but I digress.
The Spurs won game one of the 2013 NBA Finals last night, and they took it in the fourth quarter as the Heat slowed down and LeBron had to become the one man wrecking crew, except — despite his triple double — he didn’t do any wrecking, as Dwyane Wade was shut down (bad knees or not) by Manu Ginobili and the big Rafer Alston AKA Chris Bosh was dared to shoot wide open 3s which failed to follow through.
What about Ray Allen and Mike Miller in the fourth quarter? Eh…
In order to win game two, LeBron James needs to be more aggressive in the fourth quarter. Last night, in the quarter he attempted only four shots while the Spurs’ Tony Parker attempted eight and hit that crazy leaner with only milliseconds left on the shot clock.
Yes, you can argue that Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan were playing well by easing into the paint whenever LeBron dared to draw near, but it’s time for LeBron to go into “Fuck it, fuck you, fuck everyone” mode. There’s no time for pussyfooting, lollygagging or assdragging. It’s the NBA Finals.
Bosh needs to stop being so trigger happy from 3-point land. It’s time to have an eclectic offensive repertoire. He’s more one-dimensional and unchangeable than Will Ferrell’s comedy act. When Bosh was in Toronto, he averaged 22 and 10. Curtail the passive-aggressive pussyplay. Engineer some aggressiveness.
Against the Spurs, since they are so efficient and run at a high IQ level of play, it is imperative that the Heat maximize their own possessions and get the most out of Wade, Bosh, Allen and Miller. There is simply no excuse for these guys not to be executing for the entire game. Fatigued or not, this is basketball and this is the NBA Finals.
But there’s no time for overreaction. The last two Finals featured game ones won by teams that eventually lost the Finals. The Heat lost game one of their series to the Bulls and almost lost game one of their series with the Pacers. But this is the Spurs, and it is — again — of the highest priority to lock in. The end result was only a 4-point difference. This series is looking like it’s gonna be a war.