San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich isn’t the longest tenured coach in the league by accident.
Sure it helps having Tim Duncan roaming the paint for the past 16 years but Popovich is probably the best at attacking an opposing team’s weakness.
As Popovich watched the Miami Heat struggle to get past the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, he was able to devise a devious but simple strategy: force anybody but LeBron James to beat you.
We’ve all seen it. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Ray Allen are all struggling to produce in the playoffs but James has been a beast the entire postseason putting up monster numbers and virtually willing the team to wins seemingly on his own.
He’s not the same player the Spurs saw back in the 2007 Finals.
Back then, when James was still playing for Cleveland, all the Spurs had to do was shut down his teammates and dare James to shoot the ball. James did shoot and he shot horribly for that matter which allowed the Spurs to dash James’ championship hopes with an easy sweep.
This time James came equipped with the ability to not only punish teams with his outside shot but with a devastating low post game. Too bad his teammates left their games on the team bus though.
The Spurs crowded James every time he touched the ball with three and even four defenders in order to keep his devastating offensive game in check and James still ended Game 1 with a triple double.
But as coach Popovich expected, none of James’ teammates were able to take advantage of all the open looks they received. James had another big night but the Spurs got what they wanted; the win.
Miami’s Game 1 loss means that the Spurs now have home court advantage and the Heat have once again backed themselves into a corner.
That’s definitely not a place you want to be when facing a team as experienced as the Spurs. A well-coached team at that.