Saturday Practice Notes

After a sloppy Game 1, the Spurs are sticking to the same gameplan.
by June 07, 2014

You don’t need a history book to know that a team that goes up 2-0 in the NBA Finals has a good chance of winning the Championship.

The Spurs beat the Heat 110-95 in Game 1, but outside of a dominating fourth quarter, their execution was not particularly Spurs-like. The team committed 23 turnovers, and a made a number of dangerous passes that allowed Miami to get easy transition points. San Antonio’s defensive rotations were slow at times, giving shooters like Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Chris Bosh plenty of open looks from the outside.

“I still feel lucky,” Tony Parker said on Friday. “When we have 20-plus turnovers, we lose those games.”

The Spurs plan to cut down on turnovers in Game 2 simply by executing better. Head coach Gregg Popovich is notorious for sticking to the gameplan and not overbearing players with adjustments. His main points, as always, are simple: make the first easy pass, stay in motion, rotate quickly on defense.

“When it comes down to it, it’s about the players and the fundamentals and execution,” Pop said after Saturday’s practice. “Being overly clever doesn’t usually work at all.”

That may be easy to say after winning Game 1, but the Spurs are purposefully not trying to overthink things heading into Game 2.

“No adjustments really,” Kawhi Leonard said. “We just got to play a better 48-minute game.”

More than anything, the extra day off will help the Spurs recover. After playing Game 1 in what felt like a hot yoga room, both teams are appreciating the chance to get back to full strength.

That’s not to say the Spurs are downplaying the importance of Game 2. They respect the Heat and their ability to bounce back after a loss. Not only did the Heat beat the Spurs after losing Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals, but it’s been over two years since Miami lost two straight in the Playoffs (the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against Boston was the last time).

During Friday’s film session, the Heat talked about making life more difficult for Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, who shot a combined 14-16 in the paint. They talked about not getting “baited” into taking shots outside of their comfort zone. They talked about containing Manu Ginobili, who torched them for 11 assists. They talked about always keeping an eye on the streaky Danny Green.

The Spurs understand a Champion’s ability to bounce back almost better than the defending Champs themselves. After all, they’ve been to the Finals over a handful of times and won a few titles themselves. Their counter will be to play an even sharper ballgame than they did in Game 1.

“To win Championships, you have to believe, you have to face adversity, you have to come back from any kind of situation, and they proved that over the years,” Parker said. “It’s our job to stay focused and realize that we’ve won just one game.”