Former NBA player and 2001 Slam Dunk champion Desmond Mason stopped by The MoJo Show on Thursday night, feeling fairly confident that Miami would beat San Antonio in Game 4 of the NBA Finals – especially after the Heat were embarrassed in Game 3.
“Sometimes it takes getting punched in the mouth for you to get it going,” Mason explained. “They cruised a little bit (this year). They had some bumps in the road, but they cruised a little bit. When you get to this situation, (sometimes it takes getting) punched in the mouth before you say, ‘Hey, look, if we do’t get it together, this could be our last game at home. So we might want to get it going.’”
Mason’s statement was extremely logical, and it was extremely valid.
Unfortunately for the Heat, they got punched again. Hard.
San Antonio dominated Miami once again on Thursday, taking Game 4, 107-86. Miami now trails 3-1 in the series, and its three losses have been by an average of 18.3 points.
“San Antonio, man, they just (do) it year-in and year-out, putting on an offensive clinic and then a defensive clinic of just playing solid basketball,” Mason said. “(Gregg Popovich is) a legendary coach. He can make players better. He can put them in great situations.”
San Antonio’s first half in Game 4 was almost as dominant as its first half in Game 3, as the Spurs led 55-36 through two quarters. For the game, San Antonio shot 40-of-70 (57.1 percent) from the floor – including 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) from three-point range – and out-rebounded the Heat 44-27.
Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs to victory once more, finishing with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks.
Miami, meanwhile, had as many turnovers as assists (13), and Mario Chalmers was a non-factor once again. Chalmers scored four points in Game 4, which actually raised his Finals average from 3.3 points to 3.5 points.
Norris Cole scored four points off the bench, as Miami continues to get little from its point guards.
Mason, however, believes Chalmers and Cole don’t need to be big-time scorers in this series. Rather, they need to be big-time defenders – and they haven’t been.
“The last thing you need for Miami is another (guy) thinking they can go out and score 20,” Mason said. “You want (Chalmers and Cole) to get 20 or 15 like Rashard Lewis is getting it – off of driving kicks and Dwyane Wade and those guys drawing all the attention and then getting you wide-open shots.”
“But on the other end of the floor – and it’s really hard to do, so it’s easy for me to say sitting here on the couch – you got to keep Tony Parker in front of you,” Mason continued. “You can’t let him go back and forth off of screens. You got to either trap him or jump him hard and make him make other guys make plays – which they’re capable (of) – but right now he’s kind of got free reign. Manu’s the same way off the pick-and-rolls. They’re just letting those guys flow a little bit too freely. That’s all guard play. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, they have to step up and just guard somebody and let (the) offense (come to them).”