|Photo from sircharlesincharge.com|
Tonight, the series shifts to Miami for the next two games after Miami came away with a split in San Antonio with their Game 2 victory. I except the same result from these next two games, a split. The teams are too evenly matched for anyone to come away with a clear advantage just yet.
As for tonight, I think the Spurs should be able to bounce back, despite being on the road. It has always been said that role players play worse away from home, which tends to actually be true sometimes, but that won't really affect this game much. That's usually the case with more erratic players, such as spot up shooters who can change the game with their streaky shooting, but don't have much use otherwise. So, it could take someone like Marco Bellinelli out of the game, but the rest of the Spurs are too solid. We all know about Danny Green's ability to shoot, but it's actually his talented defense on the wing that makes him an important player for the Spurs, as they have a lot of offensive talent. Boris Diaw will still grab rebounds and make beautiful passes, unaffected by the crowd.
The real key in this game will be the effectiveness of Manu Ginobili. He has used the strategy before, but Erik Spoelstra uncovered a gem in Game 2 when LeBron James was guarding Tony Parker, causing the Spurs offense to stagnate. I expect to see him use that matchup to his advantage earlier in the fourth quarter. This means that in response, Gregg Popovich will be allowing Manu Ginobili to be the focus of the pick and roll. Whether he's being guarded by Dwyane Wade or Ray Allen, he should have a relatively easy time getting open with screens being set by either Tim Duncan or Diaw, and on some plays, even both of them. I forsee Ginobili taking over down the stretch, thriving in his role as the main facilitator. There's some double-double potential, or at least, as much as there can be for any Spur considering how much they spread the ball around to everyone.
This isn't a knock on the Heat at all. We'll see a very close and competitive game all the way through, but when two teams are so close in every category, one tiny coaching adjustment can decide a game.
Check back tomorrow as I recap tonight's game and talk about how wrong my prediction ended up being.