The San Antonio Spurs had a chance at securing a commanding 2-0 lead in the 2014 NBA Finals. Instead, they couldn’t execute down the stretch of a narrow 98-96 loss.
After taking the 1-0 win and holding home court advantage, the game two home loss puts home court advantage right back in the hands of the Miami Heat, who will host the Spurs for a huge game three on Tuesday night.
The Heat don’t have any doubt the Spurs will come in ready, however, as both Dwyane Wade and head coach Erik Spoelstra cited San Antonio’s focus and experience in these types of situations.
“Coming back here, there has to be an incredible sense of focus and urgency, said Spoelstra, ”They’re a veteran, posed, championship-level team…The crowd won’t affect them much.”
Perhaps, but it’s been more than just the crowd affecting the opposition in Miami, as the Heat haven’t loss a home playoff game since getting beat by the Spurs in Miami in game one of last year’s NBA Finals.
The Spurs are well aware of how tough it’s going to be to march in and turn home court advantage right back around in their favor, as star guard Manu Ginobili referenced the danger of a 3-1 hole.
“We don’t want to come back here, [down] 3-1,” Ginobili said,”It’s very hard to overcome that.”
The Spurs owned the paint in game one and did a solid job containing LeBron James. In game two, however, James erupted for 35 points and Tiago Splitter disappeared (one made shot) on the offensive end.
For San Antonio to pull it out and take back control of this series, they’ll have to get Splitter involved again and playing at a high level. Trying to shut down James on a nightly basis can probably be dismissed, but if Kawhi Leonard isn’t going to contain him, he’ll at least need to provide more than the inefficient play he has so far on offense.
Overall, the Spurs just need to find a way to execute better than the Heat late in the game. That will mean playing smart defense, hitting free throws and blocking out the crowd. While the Heat were a formidable 32-9 at home during the regular season and have yet to lose a home playoff game this year, the Spurs just might be the team to finally make it happen (30-11 on the road during regular season).
In what looks to be a back and forth series that will probably go to a full seven games for the second year in a row, the well-coached and disciplined Spurs should show up big in Miami and reclaim the series lead.
Pick: Spurs 101, Heat 99