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Morning Shootaround: NBA Finals Game 4

By Jeff Koch on June 13, 2013.

And here we are again, the most important game of the season.

If there’s an overriding theme of this series (besides the constant “LeBron’s Psychological State” crisis), it’s the back-and-forth, see-saw nature of the first 3 games. At some point, one of the teams will need to win 2 games in a row. And for the Spurs, that needs to start tonight.

Yes, even though we lead 2-1, and have 2 more games in San Antonio, I think this game is equally important for us as it is for the Heat. The Heat are going to come out strong and play with more aggression and fire, and the Spurs need to match it. If the team that loses the previous game always dictates the terms of the next game, then we’ll soon be at a Game 7. In Miami. In the NBA Finals. That is not a recipe for success for the visiting team. For the Spurs to win their 5th Championship, we need to take control of the series, and take the fight to Miami from the jump in Game 4.

So this is what I’ll be watching for tonight. Will the Spurs come out aggressive as they did in Game 3? Or will they let the Heat bring the fight to them, the more desperate team playing with more urgency? That was just barely passable in Game 2, but is unacceptable tonight.

The other big story tonight is Tony Parker’s status. Personally, I think he plays and plays well. But we won’t know until we know. I don’t even want to speculate until the ball tips.

A few more thoughts on the series in general:

–There is a sense that a “LeBron Game” is coming. I’m OK with that, and I think the Spurs are, too. Regardless the role, LeBron can not beat us alone. 20 pts and 10 assists scares me no more or no less that 35 pts and 5 assists. If he is aggressive and tries to score a lot, it runs the risk of freezing out his teammates (and the shooters). Go right ahead LeBron. If you can beat us by yourself, then we deserve to lose. (And enjoy the subtle jabs from Wade through the press after the game if you don’t win.)

–Speaking of Wade, he is playing just horribly. I mean, totally destroying the Heat right now. Most people are focusing on his offensive woes, which are plenty. But he is just a wreck defensively right now. If you go back and watch each and every Green 3 for the first 3 games, you’ll see an lost and out-of-position Wade on about 75% of them. I wonder if Heat fans feel the same way about Wade as we do about Ginobili?

–It’s stunning to watch Wade and LeBron just passing up open jump shots. There’s a certain brilliance to the game plan of just giving these players the freedom to shoot that shot. Both know by doing so they are playing right into our hand defensively, and both are really over-thinking it, and trying to do the “right” thing and drive. But it’s the hesitation that makes the defense so effective. The offense just looks totally out of sorts, with no rhythm or chemistry.

–By the same token, it’s quite the gamble that the Spurs are effectively playing off of Bosh and Wade, and not the “role player shooters”. Wade is a notoriously poor 3-point shooter, and Bosh is best inside the arc as well. So when all 3 of their Big 3 are on the court, just notice how awkward the spacing and rhythm is. The line-up that really killed us in Game 2 was without Wade. This is not coincidence.

5 for 21.

Go Spurs Go.

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