Game Two is tonight. Like in three hours tonight.
Many of us are still digesting Game One and the over-heated, cramp-inducing glory that was that first game. Before the storyline of LeBron James took over, what we had was an extremely competitive game with both teams taking turns imposing their will. It was the kind of back-and-forth battle you expect in a Finals game between the two best teams in the league.
The adjustments each team will make will make Game Two.
Here is what we expect to happen.
1) Speed up Spurs
Look for Miami to continue to do what they did in game one. They forced the San Antonio Spurs to speed their game up. Miami will come out with more pressure on the ball, not let Tony Parker walk the ball up the floor to survey his next moves. What they showed and proved was if they close-out on shooters and force them to dribble into the lane and settle for mid-range jumpers, that is a win for Miami.
That certainly worked in forcing 23 San Antonio turnovers. Miami will once again want to swarm and pressure San Antonio into making those mistakes. The turnovers in the third quarter helped the Heat build their lead and control the game.
2) Speedy passing for Spurs
But there is a balance to it as well.
The Spurs play best when they are playing with pace, especially in the halfcourt. That means Tony Parker driving into the middle of the lane and quickly moving the ball or Manu Ginobili doing the same or, heck, Boris Diaw. The ball movement is the key and Miami will have to make San Antonio make mistakes while limiting the ball movement.
Speeding up San Antonio into mistakes is a risky proposition, as it seemed to prove in the fourth quarter for Miami. The Spurs will want to keep moving the ball side to side quickly to make the Heat defense rotate and open up the holes — to drive and then kick back out to the 3-point line.
For the Heat, that means pressuring and swarming more to speed up individual decisions and not ball movement. Miami has to keep the ball on one side of the floor to find success.
3) 3-Point Shooting
It is no secret that both the Heat and the Spurs rely heavily on 3-point shooting. Miami shot 12 for 29 from beyond the arc in Game One while San Antonio shot 13 for 25. That is 54 attempts from beyond the arc combined, the most combined since Game Four of the 1995 Finals when the Magic and Rockets combined for 58 attempts (and that was from the temporarily shortened 3-point line). Two teams hit 54 in the time since including the Heat and Thunder.
There is going to be a lot of 3-pointers taken this series.
The lineups suggest that too. Rashard Lewis is going to play a key role for the Heat and he has to make 3-pointers to make his presence viable — Lewis cannot guard Tim Duncan. Danny Green obviously came a live in the fourth quarter with three 3-pointers and that proved to be a major difference in the game.
San Antonio won round one, making more 3-pointers on fewer attempts. The winner of this series might very well be the team that shoots better from beyond the arc.
4) Get Duncan outside
Tim Duncan has become renowned for his mid-range jumper. In the Playoffs, he is shooting 26 for 68 from 10-19 feet (38.2 percent) and those 68 field goal attempts account for 27.9 percent of his field goal attempts in the postseason. Obviously most of Duncan’s work has come from around the paint.
That was moreso true in Game One. In Game One, Duncan made nine of 10 shots. All 10 came right at the basket. That and he joined Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the only players to score 20 points, grab 10 rebounds and shoot 90 percent in a Finals game. Not that Duncan has not done enough to put himself in the NBA’s historical discussion.
So the Heat are going to have to find a way to get Duncan out of the paint. That is tough obviously. But maybe a bigger lineup and a better attempt to force Tiago Splitter to have the ball will put Duncan into the perimeter. Maybe Miami can steal San Antonio’s strategy against LeBron James and back off Duncan when he catches it near the elbow.