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NBA Finals: Spurs take care of the ball, Heat lose control in Game 1

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

Miller and the Heat just couldn't take care of the ball. (USATSI)
Mike Miller and the Heat just couldn't take care of the ball. (USATSI)

MIAMI -- After Game 1, it's easy to focus on the mistakes that teams made. Chris Bosh didn't hit a big shot in the final minute, LeBron James didn't take enough shots, and there were too many offensive rebounds given up by the Miami Heat. The Heat shot themselves in the foot five times during the fourth quarter by giving the ball away to the San Antonio Spurs. They were careless with the ball, when the Spurs were extra careful.

The Spurs had just four turnovers all night and two of those came within the first 4:10 of the game. The rest of the game, the Heat were unable to get their opponents to make mistakes with the ball that the Heat usually feast on.

"That is a pretty big stat," Danny Green said during Friday's media availability. "They all came pretty early in the game, I believe. We don't like to have them in bunches like that, so they can't go on runs and go up big. You've got to continue to move the ball and not turn it over. Give ourselves a chance. This team thrives on turnovers, transition baskets."

Part of the reason the Spurs were able to be so careful was their passing. This is the team that led the NBA in assists throughout the entire season. They move the opposing defense side-to-side as well as anybody, and always seem to have you chasing the previous pass, rather than anticipating the next pass. It's what makes their offense so deadly and the game of basketball so easy for them.

"Taking care of the ball is obviously huge against them," Matt Bonner explained. "They feed off turnovers. They're great at getting out on the break. They play an aggressive style of defense. It's important to not hold the ball against them. Keep the ball moving, find the open man, and keep attacking and try to find the open shot. They're a great defensive team and we just have to do our best."

The Heat, on the other hand, struggled taking care of the ball in the fourth quarter. They gave up six points off of five fourth-quarter turnovers, which in a vacuum ends up being the difference between a four-point defeat and a two-point victory. This clumsiness isn't something that often works against the Spurs.

"I think the previous teams that we've played, it would've been good enough," Ray Allen said. "This team, you can't. They're not going to let us off the hook with making those turnovers. They convert and execute an offense. If we're in a bad position, they're going to take advantage of that. We can't get away with playing 39, 41 minutes per game."

The Heat have a chance to rectify this in Game 2 and even the series at 1-1 heading to San Antonio. But they can't continue to make mistakes against their opponents while not forcing mistakes. They have to get the ball out of Tony Parker's hands and funnel it to spots in their defense where they can clamp down or pressure the ball into going the other way.

"The margin of error is very small for both teams," Chris Bosh said before practice on Friday. "I think we played good defense for the most part numbers-wise. I think offensively we just had a couple of lapses that cost us the game."

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