Yesterday in San Antonio the “Noche Latina” was celebrated so the the game was between “Los Spurs” and “El Heat”. It was a confrontation between two teams with an almost opposite philosophy: the Spurs are a team shaped by their coach Popovich to play in a very orderly system while the Heat are virtually in self-management.
Miami was coming from a defeat suffered against the Orlando Magic after leading by 24 points so they certainly they wanted to make up for that but they were obviously motivated by playing against the team that has the best record in the league.
In the “Noche Latina” it was appropriate that the beginning was marked by an Argentinian player: it was in fact Manu Ginobili who was aggressive from the start of the game scoring 11 points in the first quarter but also passing the ball to his teammates who used a very fluid team play to start the game with an amazing 8/10 from 3 points.
Tony Parker wasn’t even supposed to play because of muscle problems: it was even speculated that it would take a month fro him to heal, instead he was ready to start the game and while not quite at his best he too has contributed to the extraordinary team start.
The Heat on the contrary started very badly: the two offensive fouls each for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are a clear indication of their offensive problems and the fact that their opponents are very careful to place some men between them and the basket.
The first quarter ended with a 36-12 really unthinkable at the start of the game but in the second quarter the Heat tried to get into the game and partially came back with the score, also playing with LeBron James as number 4, a fruitful solution for Miami. At the end of the second quarter the score was 62-50 for the San Antonio Spurs.
In the third quarter the Spurs went on playing in a very orderly way and the Heat were unable to replicate the good second quarter, partly because Chris Bosh was back as number 4 giving less trouble to San Antonio in that position compared to LeBron James. The third quarter ended with the score 94-72.
At the start of the fourth quarter the Spurs didn’t slow down and took their lead around 30 points so there were several minutes of “garbage time”. The match ended with a win for the San Antonio Spurs 125-95.
The Spurs have proven they’re a team with a game play that works very well but paradoxically they also won thanks to a great start when Manu Ginobili with his lucid madness allowed his team to immediately take a considerable advantage. Actually Ginobili did that because he played with teammates he knows very well so even when they go out of their regular plays they still can find each other passing the ball very well and that’s why yesterday they found very easy shots.
It would be too easy now to say that the Miami Heat are a failure and against a well organized team they have no chance so in the playoffs they’ll do bad. Both the coach and the players have been saying for months that their job is a long-term as they’re a new team so inevitably it takes time for players to play together seamlessly.
Yesterday however we saw the whole difference between the Heat and the Spurs: Ginobili’s talent prevailed because he added something to the normal San Antonio’s plays, James and Wade couldn’t do it because somehow they ended up taking something from Miami’s plays breaking them with their individual plays.
It’s known that the playoffs are a different sport compared to the regular season but the San Antonio Spurs, just like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, have already shown in recent years that they can play them, the Miami Heat and in particular LeBron James have yet to demonstrate that they can do it.
It’s true that this is a team that can go on for years as it is largely because the “three amigos” are the ones who matter while the other players can be easily changed but it’s also true that if they don’t win the pressure will increase even more. We’ll see in the coming months if the Heat can stand it.