As teams get deeper in the postseason, it is easier to overcomplicate gameplans and think too much. It is easy to get stuck in the adjustments and forget about the play that gets you to that stage of the postseason. It is easy to look at the trees and lose sight of the forest. The big picture of who your team is.
A seven-game series with Indiana forced Miami to go big and fight a physical battle. A Game One loss to the Spurs seemed to re-affirm that as the Heat got bogged down in the half court and isolated into excessive one-on-one play and LeBron-watching. Miami, it seemed, enjoyed watching LeBron James as much as the fanse did.
Only problem is that it does not lead to winning.
For Miami to win this series, it had to re-discover its identity and win with small ball — forcing a flexible and versatile San Antonio team into joining them to defend.
In one moment, the Heat seemed to prove why this was so.
It was Tiago Splitter coming down an open lane, right hand cocked back to throw down an emphatic dunk. It was LeBron James deciding to come across the lane and meet him. And it was James turning him back, getting hand to ball and throwing back the 6-foot-11 center. Small ball won that round.
It was the exclamation point on a 103-84 win over the Spurs in Game Two. It was a 34-10 run that spanned the end of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth quarter that did San Antonio in. Miami finally converted turnovers into theose precious fast break opportunities its offense feeds off of.
This was the Miami Heat we had grown accustomed to seeing. Only it wasn't.
LeBron James, sure to get everyone's attention at all times, made only two of his first seven shots and had four points at halftime. He scored only 17 points, adding eight rebounds and seven assists. Yet his impact was felt in the way Mario Chalmers had room to attack and the room Dwyane Wade had to cut or Chris Andersen had to get offensive rebounds.
The defense, like it was in Game One, was completely focused on keeping James on the perimeter. So Erik Spoelstra involved James in more pick and rolls as the screener. The defense stuck with him, leaving room for the ball handler to go to the basket.
San Antonio's gamble backfired. Chalmers scored 19 points and had a +30 and, more importantly, zero turnovers. San Antonio wanted Miami's "others" to beat it, and those players did.
The Heat shot 10 for 19 from beyond the arc putting in a 3-point onslaught that is precisely what Spoelstra designed this Heat offense to do. Miaim scored 19 points off San Antonio's 17 turnovers and scored 13 fast break points. In a Finals series, where possessions are treasured and fast break opportunities are few, that is a lot.
The Spurs eclipsed their four-turnover mark midway through the first quarter. And after Danny Green's 3-point onslaught — Green scored 17 points making all five of his 3-point shots — ended, the Spurs were left with their turnovers and the extra opportunities they gave the Heat.
Miami played with more energy and aggression on defense, switching on and trapping Tony Parker more often. Parker had five assists and five turnovers as he struggled to pass through double teams that closed in on him quickly. San Antonio only had 16 assists, the ball was not moving and the turnovers were plenty.
The Spurs consistently were taking shots late in the shot clock as the Heat rotated quicker and closed out better. Particularly as the game waned on.
Miami had the answers. The Heat had rediscovered their identity, a running, gunning, shooting, spread-the-floor, "flying death machine" of an offense and defense that can stymie even the best teams in an avalanche of scoring, athleticism and 3-point shooting.
The Spurs learned that firsthand in Game Two as the series was evened up.