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How Heat make Spurs uncomfortable
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On June 15, 2013 @ 9:26 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Yannis Koutroupis, USA TODAY Sports
SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs want to play big. They built their first two championships on the “Twin Towers” of David Robinson and Tim Duncan. They recreated the formula this season, again allowing Duncan’s low-post scoring ability to shine while controlling the boards and dictating tempo.
But few teams want to let them. Small ball has taken over the NBA as teams have one true big man surrounded by four perimeter players. The style increases spacing and creates transition opportunities, with the Miami Heat being one of the most obvious benefactors.
The Heat returned to, and forced the Spurs to follow in, their small-ball ways in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, asserting themselves for a 109-93 victory that evened the series at 2-2. But Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has no interest in discussing the shift.
“I only care about what’s going on right now in this series,” Popovich said to USA TODAY Sports. “I’m not concerned about trends in the NBA.”
While Popovich is focused on Sunday’s pivotal Game 5, he’s been cognizant of how much differently the game is being played. It may not have looked like it in Game 4, but the Spurs are built so that they can play small as well.
“We’re comfortable with our small team,” Spurs guard Gary Neal said. “That’s a team we’re comfortable with. We’ve won games and been pretty successful playing small, so that’s not something that’s unusual or uncomfortable for us.
“We have to play with our pace when we go small. Play at a faster tempo, be more aggressive, attack from different ways. When we go small there’s less structure on the court, it’s more playing basketball and being aggressive. I think when we play with four guards on the court we definitely have to do that.”
Ultimately, though, the Spurs thrive with Duncan next to Tiago Splitter or Boris Diaw or Matt Bonner. Diaw and Bonner both have skills that help on the perimeter but can bang inside and struggle to regularly guard wing players. Splitter, the Spurs’ starting center, is a perfect pairing with Duncan.
But the Heat may force a … [For more on How Miami Heat make San Antonio Spurs uncomfortable, click here.]
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