SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spurs-Heat Tonight

The Spurs are up 2-1 in this series.

After Game 2, when the Heat went on a huge run to win the game, the pundits were mixed as to where they thought the series was.  The pro-Heat group thought that the Heat sent a message, that they have a gear that the Spurs cannot get into, and that they sent a message that the series was there's to lose.  One went so far as to boast that the Heat had not lost two in a row since January (only to have another point out that if the "lose every other game" cadence persisted, the Spurs would win the championship).

The pro-Spurs group didn't read as much into the Heat's win in Game 2 for two reasons.  First, the Spurs' goal was to return to San Antonio with the series tied at 1, and they did that.  Second, the Spurs would have three in a row at home, and their home is a tough place for road teams to win at.  There also was a third reason, too -- that it's far from a sure thing that the Heat can get into the gear that they did in Game 2 any time they want to.  The conference finals proved that getting into that gear is difficult but doable.

Then the Spurs kicked the living daylights out of the Heat in Game 3, winning 113-77, taking the Heat out of their game and totally disabling the gear that the Heat might have figured they could turn to at any time in any game.  So now the Spurs have the chance to win the series in 5 games and at home if they win out in San Antonio.

Which means, of course, that Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich is telling his team tonight to replicate Game 3, to play like there is no tomorrow, and to totally take the Heat out of their game.  Do that, he has to figure, and then you're up 3-1 with another game at home.  Sure, the odds might figure that the Heat cannot lose three games in a row akin to the Game 3 debacle, but, that said, were Game 4 to replicate Game 3, that's precisely what could happen.

Of course, the Erik Spoelstra will be telling the Heat that they must summon the gear that they did late in Game 2, play that way the whole game, and tell the grand old men of the game that their time is up and that the league belongs to them.  He'll tell them that, encourage them and cajole them, but truth be told, Dwayne Wade isn't what he once was, and the Heat's bench is laden with some grand old men of their own -- Mike Miller and Ray Allen (who play), Shane Battier (who doesn't play much) and Juwon Howard and Rashard Lewis (who do not play).

I don't have any predictions for tonight, but I will summon the wisdom of a friend who is a terrific negotiator.  He once advised, "When you have the other side in a bad place, keep them there."

Touche.

That's precisely what Gregg Popovich is regaling the Spurs with.  The Heat will come out with a different level of intensity, but do not think for a moment that the Spurs will not, either.  They have a golden opportunity tonight, and they know it.

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