LeBron James Says Heat Teammates Will Hit Open Shots in Game 2

by June 07, 2013

The San Antonio Spurs turned LeBron James into a passer for much of Game 1, daring his Miami Heat teammates to knock down open shots as the NBA Finals kicked off. They could not, and the Spurs took home a 92-88 win. James, however, says he’s confident that will change as the series moves forward. Per ESPN: “There were no tricks, just an elementary mission: make James’ teammates beat them. That’s right. Popovich was betting that the team that won 66 games in the regular season and put up some of the best shooting numbers of the last decade can’t do it currently. He was sending the message he didn’t think Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh deserved the credit, at least right now, that their résumés suggested. And he sure didn’t seem to be all that scared of the once-mighty shooting triumvirate of Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers. During the 10 days the Spurs had off after they finished their sweep in the last round, Popovich wasn’t drilling his players endlessly, poring over advanced spatial analysis statistics to devise ‘cold zones’ or dreaming up radical defensive alignments. He was watching the Heat play games. Quite obviously, he noticed that James’ teammates — once so supportive and well-rounded they collectively challenged one of the most untouchable win streaks in all of sports — haven’t exactly been contributing all that well. What of the Heat’s “positionless” offense that combined so-called ‘small ball’ with tactics to ‘stretch the floor?’ Popovich’s strategy dismissed it like so many annoying questions from a pesky sideline reporter. […] The Heat did make five of their first 10 3-pointers and the crowd was going wild, figuring the old Heat were back. Wade was getting into the paint and putting the ball in the hoop, his knee saying the last three months of eye tests didn’t matter. Bosh was executing spin moves to the rim. ‘One second-guesses oneself often in the meat of these games,’ Popovich said. ‘Whether you stick with a certain strategy or change it.’ Popovich, though, stuck with it. He knew what he’d seen over the last couple weeks and he was going to stay with what he knew. James had to keep passing out crowds with nowhere to turn. The Heat made three of their last 15 3-pointers. Wade scored four points in the second half. Bosh bricked several wide-open looks the Spurs blatantly dared him to take in the final minute, the thought of putting the ball on the floor and challenging Tim Duncan not seeming to cross his mind. […] ‘They did a good job of putting two guys on the ball … and dared me to pass,’ James said. ‘I know my guys will be there to knock those shots down in the next game.'”