Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 9, 2014 at 9:42 AM
THE NBA FINALS UPDATE:
HEAT HEADS HOME WITH A SPLIT IN SAN ANTONIO, BUT WILL SPARKS NOW FLY
IN GAME 3 FOLLOWING THAT BODY BLOW TO THE SPURS’ TONY PARKER? …
IS IT TIME TO HIT THE EJECT BUTTON IN QUEENS?
If you happened to stay tuned to all the NBA Finals post-Game 2 press conferences, then you heard varied stories regarding that body blow hit to the rib cage area that San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker took from Miami guard Mario Chalmers with 6:43 remaining in the game:
Parker—who missed the ensuing two free throws after a Flagrant 1 foul rightfully was assessed to Chalmers—didn’t necessarily point to those missed foul shots or the two freebies missed right after by fellow Hall of Fame teammate Tim Duncan that could have given San Antonio as much as a 91-83 lead, but other Spurs admitted that was indeed “turning point” material and darned if we didn’t double-check the play-by-play sheet and discover that San Antonio missed nine of its next 11 field-goal attempts after the four straight aforementioned missed FTs before Manu Ginobili sank a rather meaningless triple at the buzzer in Miami’s 98-96 win, clinching the the side for us in a Game 2!
The bottom line is Miami—a 4-point underdog in Game 2—“got even” and grabbed its much-needed road split in these first two games in the Alamo City while the Spurs probably were thanking their lucky stars afterwards that this isn’t the old-fashioned 2-3-2 setup in the NBA Finals or else they may never have gotten back for another home game.
Indeed, there will be Father’s Day action this Sunday in San Antonio and a Game 5 in this series, but there’s so much still to happen this Tuesday/Thursday in Game 3 and Game 4 in Miami and our $64,000 question is just how physical will this series get after Parker fell to the floor following a cheap-shot elbow by Chalmers?
Will these multi-championship teams get back to the business at hand once we resume this NBA Finals in Game 3 … or might old-time hoop fans soon be reminded of the 1980s Finals matchups between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers?
In other words, are we headed for some blood-and-guts games and—if so—whom will that effect more? Hmmm.
Nobody’s trying to stir the pot here but …
Do not at all be surprised if the likes of Miami’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and/or the above-mentioned Chalmers take some major knocks on their way to the hoop—better have those whistles at the ready zebras!
In Sunday night’s NBA Finals Game 2, it was …
MIAMI 98, SAN ANTONIO 96—Okay, so we weighed in on the Chalmers foul on Parker but, truth be told, there was so many more storylines comin’ from this thrill-a-minute Game 2:
First off, Miami battened down the hatches on defense—and especially in the fourth quarter when San Antonio registered a mere 18 points—as the Spurs went from shooting nearly 59 percent from the floor in that 110-95 win in Game 1 to shooting a meager 43.9 percent from the field in Game 2 (that’s 36-of-82 from the field).
Miami jumped out to better defend San Antonio’s three-ball shooters in that final frame—the Spurs wound up nailing 12-of-26 trifectas but drilled just two in the game’s final six-and-half minutes—and don’t discount the paint defense the Heat played after allowing Duncan (18 points in all) to bust free for an 11-point first quarter.
Throw in the fact that James—who scored a game-high 35 points and single-handedly turned the game in Miami’s favor with eight straight points in the third quarter—shrugged off all the post-Game 1 criticism (we still don’t know how the four-time league MVP could get criticized for getting cramps!) and decided to be a playmaker each/every time down the floor and that was no more evident than when his 20-to-25-foot pass to Chris Bosh in the deep corner with 1:18 left in the game resulted in the biggest 3-point shot of this Heat season.
Bosh (18 points) made his own wonderful pass after that for a Wade layup and it all clear for all to see:
Miami made the big plays on both ends of the floor in the final two minutes; the Spurs did not and you wonder if the missed FTs (San Ant missed 8-of-20 free throws for just a 60 percent accuracy rate) will be what folks point to if/when the Spurs lose here in back-to-back NBA Finals.
On Tuesday night, it’s …
NBA FINALS—Game 3
SAN ANTONIO at MIAMI -- Series tied 1-1; 9 p.m. ET, ABC
In Game 1 it was LeBron’s cramps;
In Game 2 it was Parker’s ribs;
So, what’s the anatomy lesson we’ll have in store here for this pivotal game in this year’s NBA Finals?
Well—all kidding aside—it could be the feet/hands of San Antonio defensive specialist Kawhi Leonard, who has spent way too much time off the floor in this series thanks to foul woes.
In Sunday’s Spurs’ loss, there was Leonard fouling out after 32 minutes of game time (he finished with only 9 points and 2 rebounds) and you probably noticed he was late to cover James on several of those perimeter jumpers.
As ABC analyst Bill Simmons said following Game 2, if Leonard doesn’t play significantly better in this best-of-seven series, than the Spurs will not win and he’s so key here because San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich probably needs his long-armed star to cover James for 40 minutes and make some eyebrow-raising plays.
On the flip side, while James needs to get his “normal numbers”—anything less than 30 points, 7 or 8 rebs and a few assists would be a downer for “The King”—the Heat needs to hold its own on the boards where the defending champs won the glass war 38-37 after getting beaten by 10 rebounds in Game 1—and those unsung reserves such as Chris “Birdman” Andersen (9 defensive rebounds in Game 2 and some great defense in 24 action-packed minutes) must be positives here for Erik Spoelstra’s squad.
If you read our "Jim Sez" Game 2 Preview, than you know it said the Spurs needed more “instant offense” from the likes of bench players Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills, who combined for 16 points on 5-of-8 FG shooting in Game 1, but instead San Antonio received just 11 total points on 4-of-12 FG shooting from Belinelli/Mills plus Danny Green didn’t hurt Miami much while making just a pair of triples.
Right it down right now:
Belinelli and Mills must shoot 50 percent or so and score more than 15 combined points here and Green has to have a three-point hot streak or it’s likely that the Spurs will be heaping too much pressure and too many minutes onto the shoulders of Duncan, Parker (21 points in Game 2) and lefty G Manu Ginobili (19 points in Game 2 but way too quiet down the stretch).
Now, here’s the Heat-Spurs series in game-by-game chart form (and note that all home teams are in CAPS below):
|6-5||SAN ANTONIO||- 5||Miami||110-95|
|6-8||Miami||+ 4||SAN ANTONIO||98-96|
NBA Finals Pointspread Notes— San Antonio enters Game 3 with a 10-10 ATS (against the spread) mark this post-season and that includes a 2-6 spread log on the road while Miami heads into Tuesday’s game at 11-6 ATS overall (a .647 winning rate) and did you know the Heat’s 10-5 versus the vig as playoff betting favorites and 6-2 ATS at home this post-season?
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Fact: The New York Mets (28-35) exited the weekend on a season-worst six-game losing streak following the 6-4 setback in San Francisco.
Fact: It’s time to press the eject button and jettison fourth-year manager Terry Collins from his seat in Queens.
Hey, we don’t generally call for firings here in our daily "Jim Sez" column—that’s pure talk radio drivel, to be sure—but the Mets have dovetailed out of control and it appears Collins is doing his best to sabotage their season as Sunday he pulled RHP Zack Wheeler from the game in the bottom of the fourth inning after just 86 pitches while down 4-2.
The Mets’ TV voices for this game—Kevin Burkhardt (subbing for Gary Cohen) and analyst Keith Hernandez were floored by the move and there was plenty of other stuff to second-guess on a weekend in which the Mets blew a 3-0 lead on Saturday night and Collins yanked LHP Jon Niese in a 2-2- game after 7 innings and 94 pitches on Friday when journeyman reliever Carlos Torres came in to start the bottom of the eighth and promptly surrendered a two-run monster dinger by Buster Posey in a 4-2 Jints win.
The Mets may not wish to can Collins just yet—if he goes look for third-base coach Tim Teufel to land the interim job over Triple-A manager Wally Backman—but all these recent moves after getting swept three straight by the bungling Chicago Cubs should have the wheels in motion.
So, we nominate Collins as the first manager to be axed in 2014. Hear us, GM Sandy Alderson?
NOTE: There’s more NBA Finals coverage in the next edition of "Jim Sez"!