Against an injury-ravaged team like the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, the San Antonio Spurs could afford to still win a game comfortably minus three of their current injured players (Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Tiago Splitter). On Sunday in Miami against the Heat, the Spurs would feel what the Hawks felt Friday as San Antonio was blown out within three quarters, as the Heat lead reached its peak at 29 points, before the Spurs’ bench would trim Miami’s overall score to 113-101.
In the first half, the Spurs would fall behind by 10 points early before Tim Duncan (23 points, 2 steals, 1 block), Boris Diaw (15 points, 3 assists), and Tony Parker (11 points, 7 assists) would help them claw back with two surges to allow San Antonio to tie Miami twice in the second quarter. The Heat, guided by LeBron James (18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal), Chris Bosh (24 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists), and Mario Chalmers (16 points, 7 assists) would bump their lead to eight points just before the half.
The Spurs would come out in the second half and bring Miami’s lead down to four points with 8:44 remaining in the third quarter, but then James, Bosh, and Chalmers would put the game away in three quarters as they propelled the Heat to a 25-9 run to end the third quarter as Miami walked into the fourth holding a 91-71 lead.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich elected to pull his starters from playing in the final quarter as the Spurs’ bench of Patty Mills, Nando De Colo, Cory Joseph, Othyus Jeffers, and Aron Baynes ended the fourth where they fell behind by 29 points, but eventually ended the game down 12 as they outscored Miami 30-22 in the final period. For the Spurs, on an afternoon when Miami was fully healthy, where Greg Oden even played 13 minutes, the absence of Leonard, Green, and Splitter proved to be too much for San Antonio to overcome.
Impressive Shot Charts
Chris Bosh – It’s no secret the Spurs’ frontcourt struggles to defend pick-and-pop big men like Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Serge Ibaka, but on this day, Bosh was especially on fire as he shot 90% from the floor and made all five of his free throws.
Mario “Rio” Chalmers – In the first quarter, Parker scored 9 of his 11 points. During the quarter, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express News tweeted that Parker might hae injured his finger on a play. Parker played in the next two quarters only scoring two points. Whether it was injury or not, Chalmers had the upper-hand in this one as he posted 16 points and 7 assists with Parker being his main defender. Take a look at Rio’s shot chart.
· Ginobili in a funk? – Since scoring 29 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 17, 2014, Ginobili is averaging 4.3 points, shooting 23% from the field, and 18% from 3-point range in his last four games. Against Miami, when the Spurs needed him as a playmaker minus Leonard and after Parker went quiet, Ginobili would finish with just 3 points on 1-of-7 shooting. Is it just a funk, or is January a down month for him? Take a look at his month’s production in December as opposed to January.
15.3 points 10.8 points
50.4% shooting 37.6% shooting
42.6% shooting from 3PT 27% shooting from 3PT
4.4 assists 5 assists
+11.2 Net Rating Per 100 possessions +7.9 Net Rating Per 100 possessions
· Scorin’ Boris returns – After leading the Spurs in scoring on Friday with 21 points, Diaw ended the game against Miami as the Spurs’ second leading scorer with 15 points, where he shot 6-of-10 from the floor, and 3-of-3 from three pointe range. In his last five games, he’s scored 10 or more points in 4-out-of-5 of those matches and is averaging 13.6 points, shooting 67.5% from the floor, and 80% (8-of-10) from 3-point range. With Leonard out for 3-4 weeks, and if Diaw can continue being a bit more aggressive on the offensive end like he’s been, the Spurs should be able to perform and compete each night offensively.
Where San Antonio Stands
· Regular Season: 33-11
· Road Record: 16-4
· Losses by 10 or more points: 6 of 11 losses
· Vs. Opponents with +.500 records: 15-10
· Vs. the Eastern Conference: 13-3
(All stats used via NBA.com/Stats)
Sometimes the Spurs are going to lose, but I have a problem with pathetic defense AGAIN against a higher echelon team. It's almost like we flick a switch and play a perfect team game against a weaker team, then collapse against a good team. The Heat had 91 points after three quarters! Bosh shooting 90% for the game? Giving up easy layups? The defensive rotation was sorry throughout the game. Lazy cross-court passes against the Heat is a big no-no; everybody knows that, but that didn't stop us yesterday.
Of course, we're a better defensive team with Kawhi, Danny Green and Splitter are on the court, but bad team defense is about poor effort, communication, and rotation. This is NOT supposed to be characteristic of a Spurs team, but in our losses against good teams this season it is the same formula for disaster.