What I Hated in Sports this Week: Miami Malaise

By
Updated: June 15, 2013
Miami Heat forward LeBron James used a colorful four-letter word to describe his performance in Game 3 of the NBA finals.

Miami Heat forward LeBron James used a colorful four-letter word to describe his performance in Game 3 of the NBA finals.

Passive Miami Heat Superstars

On Tuesday, June 12, 2013, the San Antonio Spurs hosted the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the 2012-2013 NBA Finals.

With a barrage of three pointers, wide-open layups and dunks, and turnovers off errant, lazy Miami passes, the Spurs put forth a winning effort to take a 2-1 lead in the series. The final score – San Antonio 113, Miami 77 — was a laugher. The Spurs won by 36 points, yet the margin of victory felt even wider.

San Antonio simply blew Miami off the court.

The “Big Three” for Miami posted the following numbers during the debacle:

Player Attempts Made Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Points
Dwyane Wade 15 7 0 5 1 4 16
LeBron James 21 7 11 5 0 2 15
Chris Bosh 10 4 10 4 3 1 12

Why I hated it

I am not a fan of the Miami Heat. I am a season ticket holder for the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, and it is with that team that my rooting interests lie.

But unlike many viewers, I also do not hate the Heat or LeBron James, who is indisputedly the best basketball player in the world. What I hope for from this NBA finals is good basketball from the two best teams in the league. The San Antonio Spurs have held up their end of the bargain. The Miami Heat have not.

When the Heat play their best basketball, James and Dwyane Wade attack the basket relentlessly, creating a series of highlight finishes for themselves and opportunities for open jump shots for their teammates. Both men are fantastic athletes, among the fastest on the court in any NBA game, and both very strong for his respective position. They are able to get to the hoop and when they do, they have a deft touch and can use their strength to score when fouled.

Chris Bosh complements them on the offensive end both by making himself available to shoot mid-range jump shots, an area where he excels. In addition, he seems to understand how to time a cut into the lane and offer a short passing option to his driving teammates, leading to a number of Bosh dunks and layups on the season.

On the defensive end, they use their superior athleticism to blitz opposing teams’ ball handlers with double teams, and rely on that same athleticism to recover as the opponent tries to pass and find an open player. They create a high number of turnovers with that style of play, which often leads to fast-break points for James and Wade.

Miami is willing to live with the occasional missed rotation and open jump shot they give up, knowing that in the long run, the pressure and turnovers they create are more than worth the risks inherent in their style.

In other words, the key to their success on both ends of the floor comes down to one thing: pressure based on athleticism.

Playing this exciting, aggressive, powerful style of basketball, Miami won 66 games during the regular season, including a streak of 27 straight victories. Had they overpowered the competition in a similar manner in the playoffs, it would not be a stretch to ask if they were not one of the top 10 NBA teams ever assembled.

Dwyane Wade’s uncharacteristically passive style of play did the Miami Heat no favors in Game 3.

Explosive match-up

For me, the intriguing nature of their match-up with the Spurs was readily apparent.

The Spurs are a well-oiled offensive machine that starts with the sublime Tony Parker. They run multiple pick-and-roll sets for Parker using their big men, Tim Duncan, Thiago Splitter, and Kawhi Leonard on each offensive possession — and if even a sliver of space opens up for a pass or drive, Parker takes advantage. Once they have the ball moving to the inside, forcing a defensive rotation, the Spurs can take advantage of a defense using a myriad of three-point shooting options, notably Danny Green.

How would that offense, built on precision movement and passing, manage the blitzing Miami defense? Which team would have an advantage?

While San Antonio by and large lacks the athleticism of Miami, they have two young wing defenders in Leonard and Green to use on James and Wade in the hopes of foiling drives to the hoop. Meanwhile, should James and Wade find opportunities to enter the lane, Duncan and Splitter would be waiting to defend the rim.

So how would the San Antonio defense handle the pressure Wade and James can create through the sheer force of their athleticism?

Putrid passivity

In Game 3, those questions were not really answered because James, Wade, and Bosh were entirely passive on both ends of the floor. Video evidence is not hard to find. Wade repeatedly settled for — and missed — long two-point jump shots with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock. He spent most of the game standing in the corner on offense, and his failures to rotate on defense led to a number of wide-open three pointers for the Spurs, who happily hit shot after shot.

James, guarded at times by the completely overmatched Splitter on the wing, simply dribbled the ball around for 10 seconds before lobbing a series of poor shots of his own. While it is true that the Spurs had implemented a system of making the lane appear clogged while leaving James relatively open for jump shots, James failed to even test whether that system would work should he crash towards the rim. His passive play stalled the Miami offense, meaning that not only did he receive poor shooting options, his teammates did as well.

Finally, while Bosh found some space for long two-point shots, one of his strengths, he did nothing else to alleviate James of the burden of dealing with the entire interior of the Spurs defense. Gone was the Bosh who found space around the rim for short “gimme” shots, which would have forced Splitter and Duncan to pay attention to him on defense and open the lane for his slashing fellow superstars.

In short, each of the Miami superstar players floundered individually and let San Antonio box them exactly as it wished. The resulting blowout was expected, and disappointingly seemed to mostly result from a complete lack of effort and will by Miami’s best players.

What should have happened

We all know what Miami should have done differently. After all, they did it in Game 4, which Miami won the following Thursday by a score of 109-93.

James opened the game by repeatedly lowering his head on the offensive end, dipping his shoulders and seemingly remembering that he is 6’8” tall, around 260 pounds, extremely fast, extremely strong, and can jump as high as anyone in the game. Predictably, he scored a number of interior buckets and also found the rhythm on his jump shot. On the defensive end he squared off with Green, cooling him at least somewhat from three-point range, and helped protect the rim when San Antonio went inside. He finished the game with 33 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and two steals.

Wade had a revival of sorts, putting together his best game of these entire playoffs. He scored 32 points of his own to go with six rebounds, four assists, a block, and a telling six steals. He was extremely active on both ends of the court, find small spaces for scoring opportunities near the rim, knocking down jump shots, and picking Tim Duncan twice to start fast-break opportunities. He even gamely attempted to block a Duncan slam dunk in the second quarter despite giving away approximately seven inches.

Even when Wade was called for a foul, the effort was exactly what Miami needed from him. While it is difficult for anyone to be more important for Miami than James on any given night,Wade made a strong case for himself on Thursday night. He was probably MVP of the game.

Bosh himself not only facilitated the Wade and James explosion, he was the beneficiary of it. He opened the game knocking down his trademark 18 footers, but eventually made his presence felt inside as well. He was far more active on defense, playing exceptionally well on the interior against All-NBA player Duncan, who is certain to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day. While always overshadowed by his two more talented teammates, he was just as important for Miami, scoring 20 points and registering 13 rebounds, an assist, two blocks, and two steals of his own.

Miami Heat forward/center Chris Bosh was fined for a flop in the NBA finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

Hope yet lives

That’s not to say Miami will win every game against San Antonio if play like they did on Thursday night. Through three quarters and partway into the fourth, the Spurs kept the game close and matched Miami blow for blow. Just as the game appeared to be headed for an exceptional end, Tony Parker was unable to make his presence felt in the fourth quarter, presumably due to an ailing hamstring.

But it is fair to say that if Miami plays like they did on Thursday night, Parker will have to find a way to play to his own top level, and the Spurs will need contributions from the likes of Manu Ginobli, who has appeared to be a shadow of the player he once was, and role players like Leonard and Green, who have played admirably so far. If that happens, we could in for a terrific conclusion to what has been largely a disappointing finals so far.

Here’s to hoping Miami’s stars play like the stars they are, and that the Spurs rise to the challenge and give the fans the classic series we expected.

About the author(s)

Brock is a native of Wisconsin trapped in a strange land of purple. When not agonizing over the Green Bay Packers, he fantasizes about retiring to Costa Rica by age 40. He may be reached at .

521 comments
Preparation_A
Preparation_A

Goddamn, I try to come on here to waste a half hour an the rest of you people apparently have things to do. What is this world coming to?

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

Speaking of Miami malaise, game 5 happened tonight.

Mr. Horse
Mr. Horse

AP: The Big Story

Bieber destroys hotel suite, attempts to run over valet 

Not sure what hat to wear in Miami, star flips out

aciddragon
aciddragon moderator

well folks i must get myself to bed 

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was bittersweet. I'm heading to bed.

I have some prostate maintenance to take care of.

Kenny Fucking Powers, Bitch!
Kenny Fucking Powers, Bitch!

Dude goes to jail for 5 years, because some cunt accused him of rape.  Turns out it was false, and the school district gets punitative damages.  The fuck!


MIBearFan
MIBearFan

5 year old boy is losing a fight with cancer. The doctor told the parents, " take him home and enjoy the time you have left."

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

Dude just got a statue and street named after him too. ENSHRINED, SON!

andylet445
andylet445

so is anything involving the bears, lions, vikings or NFCS

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 I never thought I would have so much in common with FDR.

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

 This is going 7, and I still think Heat win.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

  

Nope. it was a sad weekend. He is a relative of my girlfriend. Life can suck at times.

Kenny Fucking Powers, Bitch!
Kenny Fucking Powers, Bitch!

  Yeah, home court, win or go home.  Heat probably pulls this one out.  Once game 7 comes, its not who the better team is, its who plays better that night.

Pat Fenis, Esq.
Pat Fenis, Esq.

I don't think it matters what Lebron shows up if Manu shows up. The Spurs bench is significantly better than miami's.

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

 I hope they lose.  I'll bet Miami panics and trades at least one of their big 3 if that happens

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

 having the best player will overcome a lot in basketball.  LeBron has not been the best player this series, but he still should be.

Regardless, this is definitely going 7.  Then the Heat win if LeBron is a monster in game 7.  If not, Spurs win.

Pat Fenis, Esq.
Pat Fenis, Esq.

They are not the better team, but yeah they migh win

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

  

He's been fighting it for years, and it was a foregone conclusion when he was diagnosed. They started a group called Alex's Army, and it has raised a lot of money for cancer research. They raised $30,000 this weekend at an annual event. They posted the bad news after it was over.