NBA Finals: The Game 3-Game 4 Contrast


These 2013 NBA Playoffs have been interesting. Close games have had so many different strategies used to win games. Dominant exchanges of leads are commonplace in these games. Emphasis on defense versus offense has consistently been switched from game to game, half to half, making game results unpredictable.

Gary Neal, Danny Green and Mike Miller have been non-factors in the first halves of the game. Although, they began strong with a 1-1 3 pointer in the beginning,  Green even in contrast to his Game 3 performance kept driving to the hoop. There were very few 3s shot by both teams. Heck, why not? That’s all anybody did during the first half of the game.

What the San Antonio Spurs should have done was what the Houston Rockets Kevin McHale-Kelvin Sampson strategy:

  • drive to the hoop and penetrate the iami defense, where Tony Parker can either shoot or
  • pass the ball to the nearest open man
  • if he is about to get blocked or cannot get a clear shot, space out the floor so that the next open man (Boris Diaw, Danny Green or Gary Neal) can shoot.

In the second half, Gary Neal would get a big three less than 2 minutes left at the end of the 3rd quarter. Dwyane Wade counters with a drive with an and-one against Danny Green. Green would then counter with a 3 of his own. That is the game the San Antonio Spurs should have played to beat the Miami Heat. Instead, Danny Green and Gary Neal were sort of in a dead lock, with their contributions in half.

Boris Diaw hit a big 3 in the end of the second half that helped lead to the tie. It made sense to play him more in the second half, which did not happen after a while.

Was Mike Miller starting a Miami Heat red herring? Makes sense as Game 3 showed that Miami could not win in that 3 point shooting game.

In contrast, Tony Parker stepped up instead of stepping out in Game 3. He began the Spurs 15-5 lead with 10 of his very own points at the beginning of the first quarter. He was a dominant court general in the beginning of the game. We all see why Tony Parker played in this game based on his performance in the first half.

Dwyane Wade had 17 points before having his 4th foul with more than 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Lebron James scored a lot better in the first half as well, scoring 10+.

The Heat would then win the game undisputed thanks to the grand performances by LeBron James 33 points, Dwyane Wade 32 points and Chris Bosh 20 points; Dwayne Wade would also almost break a NBA Finals record with 6 steals.

May 28, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) looks up at the scoreboard as he walks past guard Dwayne Wade (3) while playing against the Indiana Pacers in game four of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Miami 99-92. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Spurs, Tony Parker was a non-factor in the second half. Manu Ginobili had 5 points the whole game. Reporters in the press conference and ESPN have noted Ginobili’s lack of effect in the NBA Finals. This is especially sad, given that this is the year where he could be given up in free agency.

ESPN commentators also criticized the move of having both Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter guard the paint in the second half. I personally disagree as so many of the Heat’s shots had consisted of driving to the hoop. San Antonio had to guard directly under the basket. Kwahi Leonard’s earlier defensive success in the series did not show up here.

Here comes Game 5, a must-win for San Antonio before they encounter two back-to-back games in Miami.