Coachís Corner: Kevin Loughery on Heat-Spurs Matchup
By Kevin Loughery (As told to Andrew Pearson)
KEYS TO THE GAME
On the other hand, for the Heat, you have Gary Payton, who has had some real good games, especially on nights when Jason Williams has been hurting. Alonzo Mourning has been pretty consistent, especially on the defensive end blocking shots where he ranks fourth in the league at 3.08 per game. Up to this point, Antoine Walker hasnít played as well as they had hoped. Bench play will be important in this game between two of the best teams in the league.
Both teams can be very poor foul shooting teams. San Antonio is very streaky from the line. Parker and Duncan are not great percentage wise, just around 66 percent for both from the charity stripe. Some days theyíre pretty good, some days theyíre not. For the Heat, Shaq is obviously going to be weak all the time. The Heat is shooting around 74 percent and that is with Shaq shooting at 44 percent. Shaq really brings them down. When you have a high profile match-up, foul shooting often comes into play.
Rebounding is always a key. For some reason against Milwaukee, who is not a great rebounding team, San Antonio was really dominated on the boards. Although they were able to pull out the 95-92 win against the Bucks, they canít let the Heat dominate the glass.
How the Heat contain Tony Parker will be big. They have to keep him out of the paint, which is easier said than done since the guy is leading the league in points in the paint. Now that is impressive. I think a part of Parkerís success in the paint is attributable to changes in the NBA. Number one, if you take the ball to the basket today, they call an awful lot of fouls. Number two, there is a limited number of shot blockers in the NBA. This game will be different in that once he gets into the paint, Parker will have to contend with Shaq and Mourning and some of their other big guys.
I donít know if Jason Williams with a bad knee and an older Gary Payton can defend him. There is a possibility of them putting Wade on him, but itís a better match-up if they leave Wade on Bowen. That would give Wade a little more rest since Bowen doesnít take many shots, instead roaming around the outside. However, at periods in the game when they need a stop, I wouldnít be surprised to see that.
It is going to all come down to Shaq for Miami. He is not in tremendous condition but he does rise up for big games. San Antonio has to really contain Shaq a little bit and not let him get 35 points. He really hasnít been aggressive offensively, but if he has a monster game, Miami should win.
-- Kevin Loughery appears courtesy of the National Basketball Coaches Association