Nothin' But NETS

Men Lie, Women Lie, Numbers Don't


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2013 NBA FInals: LeBron Rules

“LeBron is not just us stopping him. He’s kind of stopped himself out there and we’re getting a little lucky.”

– Danny Green

Through 3 games of the NBA Finals it looks like the Spurs have once again (2007 NBA Finals) taken a page out of Chuck Dalys Jordan Rules defensive playbook in playing arguably one of the greatest basketball players towards his tendencies not necessarily his statistics. The Mavericks did the same exact thing in the 2011 NBA Finals knowing that LeBron preferred to do things the “Pat Riley Way” which according to Marc Cuban “Is the same thing everytime” which means very little adjustments offensively.

One common theme I hear whenever a player doesn’t play well is that they are nervous or lacks heart/confidence and therefore no credit is due to the opposing team. Well folks now we’re hearing this shit again as was the case in the 2011 NBA Finals. The Mavericks defended LeBron James the same way the Spurs are. Playing to his tendencies instead of playing it based on statistics run counter intuitive to modern NBA wisdom. For the 2012-13 season he was regarded as a great shooter from 10-15 foot range. However the Spurs have devised a plan that forces James to be more hesitant than normal effectively increasing his decision making ten fold. The Spurs know that he’s a distributor first and foremost so by clogging the lanes and triple teaming every drive its become difficult for him and have thus taken away James’ strength and advantage. But that in no way excuses his poor shooting. What I would like to see is a more traditional offense such as the Triangle or simply anything Popovich uses which utilizes ball movement and puts the player in the best position to be successful rather than around the world all movement and isolation. Of course the Riley way worked last year against the Thunder but their scheme against LeBron was terrible basically non-existent. The Thunder beat the Spurs last year so it would seem that the Heat would beat the Spurs this year but I guess Ant’s Law of Transitivity is once again flawed.

Truthfully the Spurs have outplayed the Heat in all 3 games. If it wasn’t for that third quarter substitution made by Pop taking out Danny Bird Miller Kerr Green the Spurs would be up 3-0. The Heat have a 30% chance of winning. The Spurs have called check in 2 games but can James and the Heat counter?

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Heat-Spurs Brief Preview

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The Heat are coming off a dominating performance in game 7 of the Pacers series while the Spurs are coming closely contested (2 OT games) sweep of the Memphis Grizzles. Now the Heat and Spurs have finally crossed paths once again in the NBA Finals (previously in 2007 when the Heat Cavaliers were swept) and this time they look like equals rather than a total mismatch. The Original Big Three vs The New Big Three. Past vs Present. Popovich vs Riley. Traditional vs Unorthodox. Big vs Small Ball. I can go on and on but there is a more important issue here than mere comparisons: can the old ass Spurs compete with the Heat (commonly referred to as the Heatles by Heat doubters)? Lets take a look at these two teams profiles throughout the playoffs:

Offense:

  • Heat- Ranked fourth in the playoffs
  • Spurs – Ranked first in the playoffs

Defense:

  • Heat – Ranked first in the playoffs
  • Spurs – Ranked second in the playoffs

Primary Offensive Plays:

  • Heat – Spot Up (27%)
  • Spurs – Pick and Roll (30%)

Best Defensively Against:

  • Heat – Pick and Roll (1)
  • Spurs – Spot Up (1st) and Transition (1st)

X-Factors

  • Heat – 3 point shooting/Wade/Bosh
  • Spurs – Kawhi Leonard

If I could pick the biggest question concern one team going into the playoffs is the health of Wade and Bosh. We saw flashes of Flash in game 7 when he was able to get into transition due to the Heats blitzing defense. While Bosh couldn’t hit a shot all series he has come up big against the Spurs being able to take Duncan off dribble with ease. The five out set the Heat love to run (despite being inefficient against good defenses as in the Pacers series). What works well for the Heat is the Horns set which is a two high post set which gets movement for LeBron as well as an open shot for Bosh. We know the Spurs are meticulous in terms of running offensive sets¬† mainly P&Rs for Tony Parker with as many as 3 screens, which then allows Duncan to slip behind the screen for the mid-range jump shot.¬† With that being said its hard to see where one team has a clear distinct advantage over the other. So as the great Magic Johnson said “If two teams are evenly matched, chose the team with the best player in the world.” Well said. Miami in 7.

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