Spurs, Heat looking for bounceback efforts in Game 2
Gregg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra have copious amounts of championship jewelry in their possessions, and their teams committing to the level of defense necessary to win in the postseason is a major reason why that’s the case.
Vastly improved defense will be what both coaches demand – or at least hope for – on Monday.
Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs just didn’t have enough answers for Golden State in Game 1 of their Western Conference series, and Spoelstra’s Miami Heat offered Philadelphia absolutely no resistance in a second-half meltdown that opened their Eastern Conference series. The Warriors and 76ers are both looking to take 2-0 leads when those matchups resume on their respective home floors.
”We understand that we are not favorites,” San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili said. ”We are underdogs. We talked about it, and to get a win here, we’ve got to overachieve. We’ve got to do better than we think we can do, even. So we’ll fight as hard as we can in Game 2.”
That will have to be a mantra for both the Spurs and the Heat.
The Spurs allowed Golden State to shoot 54 percent in what became a 113-92 playoff-opening win for the defending NBA champions. Game 1 in Philadelphia was even more one-sided, as the 76ers closed the game on a 74-40 run in what ended up as a 130-103 rout – the most points that any Heat team has allowed in any postseason game.
”We have to learn from it,” Miami guard Dwyane Wade said. ”It’s a seven-game series. They beat our butt in the first one. But at the end of the day, they’re up 1-0 no matter which way they did it. We definitely have to make adjustments. We can’t go into the game saying, `Oh, they’re not going to make those shots again.”’
A look at Monday night’s matchups:
HEAT AT 76ERS, Philadelphia leads 1-0. Game 2, 8 p.m., TNT.
Need to know: Philadelphia has now won 17 consecutive games, as well as 24 of its last 25 at home (not counting a ”home” loss in London to Boston), and is coming off its fourth outing of 130 points or more this season. ”If that’s the way it’s going to be, then we’ve got to conquer it,” Spoelstra said. ”We’ve got to find a way.”
Keep an eye on: Miami will have to change how it attacks screens and gets out on Philadelphia’s shooters, but that’s obviously easier said than done. Philadelphia will be brimming with confidence, and rightly so. 76ers coach Brett Brown knows the Heat will make adjustments, and it’ll be incumbent on him to react on the fly in Game 2.
Injury update: 76ers star center Joel Embiid was released from the NBA’s concussion protocol Sunday, but he will not play in Game 2. He’s recovering from surgery to repair an orbital fracture. For Miami, point guard Goran Dragic played Saturday through a sore right knee that has dogged him for a couple weeks.
Pressure is on: It was just one game, but Miami knows it can’t have a combined 13-for-40 shooting effort from its starting lineup again, or see Hassan Whiteside – the $23 million center – be a complete nonfactor while playing only 12 minutes.
SPURS AT WARRIORS, Golden State leads 1-0. Game 2, 10:30 p.m., TNT.
Need to know: When Golden State senses a chance to grab command, it usually pounces – as evidenced by how the Warriors are 8-0 in their last eight Game 2s. The Spurs have never dropped six consecutive postseason games under Popovich, though that streak will likely be seriously tested unless San Antonio comes up with some very different ideas very quickly.
Keep an eye on: San Antonio likely needs to get LaMarcus Aldridge going very early, to see if he can get in the rhythm that avoided him in Game 1. For Golden State, Klay Thompson bided his time in Game 1 and wound up shooting 11 for 13 – playing a brilliant game, getting teammates open with hard cuts in the early going before the ball found him.
Pressure is on: Oddly, it’s probably more on the Warriors than the Spurs. Golden State lost 10 of its final 17 regular-season games, and doesn’t want to see this series open with a split that will see the return of ”what’s wrong with the Warriors?” questions.
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