Can the Spurs contain LeBron James?Follow @jasonkuok
There’s only been 3 games so far, but this Finals series has been both dramatic and epic. LeBron cramping in Game 1. LeBron back with a vengeance in Game 2. Historic shooting display by the Spurs in Game 3. Good lord, what is next??
What the Spurs are trying to avoid is the continuation of the Heat’s streak of 47 games without back to back postseason losses. It’s an amazing feat to pull off given they have made deep Finals runs in the last four years, and it certainly hinges on one LeBron James. You can tell he is the catalyst for these bounce back games, turning on his scowl face, coming ready to play from the first whistle, driving, dunking, splashing jumpers. LeBron is the reason for such consistency from the Heat, and the Spurs need to throw the kitchen sink at him in Game 4 to take this series by the throat with a 3-1 lead heading back to San Antonio.
I’m talking going full Jordan Rules at LBJ. Run him off the three point line and force long 2’s. Collapse on him 3, 4 deep when he drives into the lane. He’s going to find the open man, but let the bright lights shine on Bosh and Wade and see how they fare. LeBron’s supporting cast, while dangerous as a supporting cast, is the weakest of the last four Finals runs. Force them to step up, while subsequently strangling LeBron into a 4-16FG, 5TO game with a physically and mentally exhausted body the following morning.
This would be a high-risk, high-reward scenario.
The rewards are obvious: win Game 4 in Miami, break the Heat’s spirits and force them to make history being one of the very few teams in American pro sports to overturn a 3-1 series margin. Kawhi Leonard might even crack a smile if this were to eventuate. Well may not, Kawhi has no time for games.
The risks are dangerous: you potentially ignite Miami’s supporting cast into stepping up and tying the series at 2-2. You saw how Danny Green could hit six 3-pointers straight. Well, Ray Allen just happens to be the greatest pure shooter of all time, six 3’s are his layup line. What about Wade taking the sagging off him personally and producing a vintage slashing, driving Wade performance. Or Bosh canning long jumper after jumper, Velociraptor screams after each one eventually morphing into a T-Rex.
It’s a huge risk for the Spurs.
But know this:
1. There is no way in holy hell they shoot lights out like they did in Miami again for the rest of their series. They could have used up all their wildcard karma (Danny Green and Kawhi hotsreaks) in Game 3, and still had nervous moments that their 21 point lead could get extinguished.
2. They are at their best throwing wildcards at the Heat and keeping them guessing. These teams know each other inside out and how they play each other. Game 1 to 2, the Spurs just tried to hit repeat but without the turnovers. They did that, but still lost Game 2. Game 3, they changed it up with Diaw in the starting line-up and it makes that extra difference on the offensive end with his ability to make plays. Hence, why I vote for another change up in Game 4 to smack the Heat in the mouth and get them in a desperate state early.
The Spurs need to be bold. It is a requirement when taking down the Champs. Popovich has shown the flexibility to be creative, playing his bench continually during the regular season, line-up changes, going big, going small – he just wants to win.
Take Game 3 in Miami and his selfless Spurs will get there.