Heat notebook

Winning loose balls a key for Miami Heat in NBA Finals

 
WEB VOTE Who was the Most Valuable Player in the Heat's victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA Finals?

dneal@MiamiHerald.com

Asked if San Antonio’s turnovers quadrupling from four in Game 1 to 17 in Game 2 was because of Heat defense or Spurs carelessness, guard Danny Green said, “Got to give them credit. What they were doing. Obviously, they came out a lot more aggressive, they were rotating faster and they were all over the floor. Every 50-50 ball, they pretty much got to it.”

That’s not how Heat coach Erik Spoelstra saw the loose balls much of the night.

“It felt like we were losing all of them,” Spoelstra said Sunday night. “We were playing OK in the first half, but it seemed like all the way to midway through the third quarter, we were losing every skirmish, every loose ball, every tipped ball, every broken play. We weren’t finishing those plays. That was really hurting us. We weren’t able to create some separation.

“Then, it changed for whatever reason,” he continued. “The momentum, the energy and we were able to win some of those momentum plays. And it made a tremendous difference, obviously, going down to the other end. This series will be defined by those plays.”

Making a mark

The Heat’s 66 regular-season wins and 13 playoff wins leave them one win from becoming the 10th NBA team to win 80 games in a season.

During the Michael Jordan era, Chicago did it three times, peaking at 87 wins in 1995-96, when the Bulls set the NBA regular-season record of 72 wins. The first Shaquille O’Neal- Kobe Bryant championship edition won 82 games in 1999-2000, the most by any of the Lakers’ four 80-win teams. Boston’s third championship of the Larry Bird- Kevin McHale- Robert Parrish era, 1985-86, won 82 total games as did the Celtics’ more recent power trio — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and current Heat guard Ray Allen — in 2007-08.

Trending

The Heat did what the Heat has done so often during the past three seasons in Game 2. Sunday ran counter to everything in Spurs’ playoff history.

Tim Duncan, the NBA’s all-time playoff leader in blocked shots, didn’t have a block. That has happened only once in his previous 23 Finals games. Duncan failing to reach double-digit scoring (nine points) had not happened in the Finals. Overall, he has scored in double digits in 197 of 206 career playoff games.

Green’s 5-for-5 game from three-point range set an NBA Finals record for three-point perfection. Boston’s Scott Wedman, in 1985, and Paul Pierce, in 2008, each went 4 for 4 from behind the arc in a Finals game win against the Lakers.

Another trend will end after Game 3 on Tuesday. The Heat is 5-2 on the road this year in the playoffs. San Antonio is 6-1 at home.

Training ground

The Heat announced an exclusive affiliation agreement with the NBA Developmental League’s Sioux Falls (S.D.) Skyforce on Monday. Previously, the Heat shared Sioux Falls with Minnesota, Orlando and Philadelphia.

Funding and running Sioux Falls’ basketball operations come under Heat responsibilities while Sioux Falls’ ownership will be responsible for nonbasketball business operations and community work.

Four other NBA teams, including the Knicks, have similar arrangements with D-League franchises. Seven NBA franchises own their D-League affiliates.

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