Señor Basketball Has Spoken! Heat Vs. Spurs Game 4 Preview To Get You Ready For The Death Match Tonight
Mr. Basketball –
Most sports fans will tell you that the two greatest words in sports are “Game Seven”. There’s nothing quite like watching athletes who have already competed for six games conjure up every reserve of energy in a winner-take-all contest. Unfortunately, when it comes to the NBA Finals, Game 7’s aren’t usually well played, even if they’re competitive. The last three Game 7’s in the NBA Finals (Heat-Spurs last year, Celtics-Lakers in ’10, and Spurs-Pistons in ’05) have all been rock fights ultimately won by the home team.
Thus, I reached the conclusion that the most dramatic game of a given NBA Finals (that is, the highest combination of stakes and quality of competition) is most likely to be Game 4. The disparity between a 3-1 series and a 2-2 series cannot be overstated. The last team to overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals? No one. It’s never happened. And it’s only happened a grand total of eight times in the history of the NBA Playoffs (the last team to do so was the Phoenix Suns, who came back to beat the Lakers in the first round in 2006).
The Spurs, thanks to the greatest offensive half in NBA Finals history and the best game of Kawhi Leonard’s career (!!!!!!!!), now hold a 2-1 series lead. The Heat looked flustered on defense and continued to get zero production from their point guards, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. Lebron James was strangely non-aggressive in the second half, even as the Heat cut San Antonio’s 25-point lead down to 7 before running out of gas.
Granted, the Spurs won Game 3 of last year’s Finals by 36 points and had a 2-1 lead and eventually lost the series, but again, this Spurs team is better than last year’s team, and Miami, without production from Chalmers, Cole, Shane Battier (not playing, presumably because he’s old and banged up), and Mike Miller (no longer a member of the Heat), is worse.
That being said, I fully expect the Heat to win Game 4, because this iteration of the team has never been down 3-1 in a series, they haven’t lost back to back playoff games since 2012, and because Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will leave everything on the floor tonight. In Game 4 of last year’s Finals, despite being injured and playing poorly in the first three games, Wade delivered a throwback performance and tied the series. This time around, Miami will need that kind of Herculean effort from all three of its superstars.
From an X’s and O’s standpoint, the Heat will have to rotate better on defense and not allow the Spurs endless high quality looks. Most importantly, they have to force turnovers, score in transition, and get to the free throw line. They also have to hope for something, anything from their point guards. If not, they’ll have to rely on a PG-less lineups using only the Big 3, Chris Andersen, Rashard Lewis, and Ray Allen.
The Heat will also benefit from Game 3 being an outlier. In all likelihood, San Antonio will come back down to earth and shoot a much lower percentage, and Kawhi Leonard won’t outplay the best player in the world again. But the Spurs can smell blood, and this is their chance to stomp on Miami’s neck. They’ve been waiting for this chance for a full year, and they know that if they win tonight, no on-off switch will save the Heat from a 3-1 deficit.
Game 4 is the crossroads of this 2014 NBA Finals; we’ll either have another classic series, or else the Spurs will emphatically exact their revenge. My money is on the former. The Heat have too much pride, too much mental toughness, and too much Lebron James to go quietly. As much as the editor-in-chief enjoys making fun of “Bron Bron”, there will be no jokes made tonight. I think we’re in for a Game 4 war, and when the dust settles, the King won’t have surrendered his throne just yet.
EDITORS NOTE: Mr. Basketball has spoken!! Alright first off, Editor-in-chief? I fuckin love it! So simple, so old school.. Name change is definite. Love it. Second, counter prediction… Heat fold tonight.. But not to worry, the American Airlines Arena has laid out various Spurs jerseys on ever seat in the house, so that every Heat fan can switch jerseys if the Heat fall behind late… Playin it safe, wouldn’t wanna be a loser, am I right? Bandwagon City.