Last night merely looked like target practice for the sharpshooting Spurs and Heat. Today actually was.
A little more than 12 hours after the San Antonio defeated the Miami, 111-92, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, both teams returned to AmericanAirlines Arena, in Miami, for practice.
Practice, in today’s case, meant actual on court work for the Spurs. For the Heat, who as the home team were slated to hit the hardwood second, this particular session was a detailed film study of Game 3. Both teams, regardless of how they spent their practice time, had to face the media.
At this point in the season, players and coaches don’t feel like being overly verbose. Part of it is because they don’t want to divulge too much information during the Finals. And another part of the short answers and evasive silence is plain old weariness.
Despite that, some semi-interesting notes came to light. Let’s deal with the Miami Heat first.
1. Starting point guard Mario Chalmers has looked out of sync all series. He’s looked tentative on offense, and totally lost on defense. Over the course of the first three games, the 28-year-old is averaging 3.3 points and 3 assists per game. Makes sense, then, that the Heat are well aware of his struggles.
“Obviously right now he’s been struggling a lot,” LeBron James told the media. “But the number one thing is he can’t lose confidence in himself.”
“You want him to know we still have faith in him, trust in him and we need him,” Coach Spoelstra said.
Chalmers is a free agent after the season. Could that be the cause of his June swoon?
“This is the NBA Finals, but also it is his livelihood that he’s playing for as well,” said James, “so I’m not quite sure. All I can do as a leader of this team is try to maintain and let him know what the job is at hand.”
2. As many noted immediately after Game 3, Chris Bosh touched the ball 40 times in Miami’s Game 2 win. He only touched the ball 12 times, and took four shots, last night. Is it on Bosh or his teammates to keep him fed?
“CB is a recipient a lot of times of the ball movement,” said Coach Spo, who pointed out that the Heat had 37 possessions where they only passed the two times or less. “He has to do so many different things for us without getting play calls, but we still expect him to be aggressive. But it’s reliant on other guys also moving the ball.”
“The ball did not find him,” Rashard Lewis said. “There were positions on the court where he was wide open and the ball just did not get to his hands. He’s one of our main scorers on this team. We have to give him the ball and get him in a good rhythm to try to win the game.”
As for Bosh, he didn’t call out his teammates for freezing him out. But he didn’t absolve them of blame, either.
“Everybody knows I don’t get any play calls, and that’s how it is. That’s how it’s been since I’ve been here, and I’m very reliant on side‑to‑side ball movement,” he said. “My guys are running to the paint. I show my palms, but, you know, it happens for a reason, I guess. Hopefully moving forward we can just do a better job of moving the basketball where everybody can be involved to really be effective.”
3. From his early scoring to his key buckets late, Kawhi Leonard was the unsung hero of Game 3. At practice, Miami said they could live with him taking six threes. What they can’t do, however, is let him get to the basket.
“We’ve got to make the adjustment of when they’re running pick-and-rolls, and you’re chucking and closing out Kawhi, you have to be a little more conscious of where he’s trying to go,” said Dwyane Wade. “Make him take the shot. If he makes it, you’ve got to get closer next time. If he’s driving it, you have to make him make more than one move to get to the basket.”
Sounds simple enough. We’ll see tomorrow night.
After their big win, the Spurs had less to publicly analyze and apologize for. But they still spilled some info.
1. Coach Popovich was less surly than usual today. So when a reporter asked him about his evolution as a coach from his first Finals appearance until now, Pop took the time to answer. His main teaching: Shut up and don’t try to change people.
“I think I’ve learned to shut up more, and that probably is due to Manu Ginobili,” Coach said. “When he first came I was going to make him a heck of a player. And after 20 minutes I realized that he didn’t need me to do that. He was already a heck of a player. Sometimes being quiet and letting the player play is much more important than trying to be Mr. Coach and teach him this or teach him that.
“So I think as time evolves and you get older in the business you figure out what’s really important, and you don’t waste time trying to make people what they’re not going to be.”
Coach actually kept talking about the subject. If you want to read the rest of his answer, you can find it here.
2. Along the same lines, another reporter asked Manu Ginobili if he felt like the Spurs were a dynasty. His response was well worth the cost of admission.
“I think what we have accomplished hasn’t been seen a lot in many other cities or teams,” Ginobili said. “Maybe you saw it with the Lakers or Celtics, but having a group of three players and a coach for more than a decade and winning three or four championships and making it to the Finals, I don’t know what the word ‘dynasty’ means exactly, but I know that we accomplished a lot of things. We won a lot of games together.”
Both Pop’s answer and Manu’s seem to look back more than they do forwards. In that sense, it’s scary to think that the Spurs might be preparing for the end of an era.
3. On a lighter note, despite having once appeared in a commercial where he discusses yoga, Tim Duncan made it clear that he does not practice the limb-loosening activity.
“I don’t do yoga,” Duncan said. “I don’t stretch well, no. Nor am I patient, so both of those things are bad.”
4. Someone noted on Twitter last night that Danny Green has been wearing Nike Air Zoom Flight ’98, a.k.a. The Glove, for quite some time. The person wondered if he was reusing the same pair or had a deep stock. Intrigued by the social media post, SLAM asked.
“I have a couple of pairs,” laughed Green. Engaged by the question, Green continued to say that he had bumped into Gary Payton, the original face of the shoe, during the series. When he saw him, he asked the Hall of Famer for a re-up.
Last year during the Finals, Green wore one of LeBron James’ signature team models, the Nike Zoom Soldier 6. Apparently, James has noticed the change. Green said that LeBron gave him flack for falling off the Soldier wagon.
Green doesn’t plan on wearing Soldiers again anytime soon. He does plan, though, on lacing up in The Glove when the Spurs and Heat take the court for Game 4 tomorrow night.