MIAMI (AP) — Finishing games is becoming a concern for the Miami Heat.
They led the NBA this season in fourth-quarter field-goal percentage, and probably could have posted even bigger numbers if so many of their games hadn't already been decided before the final 12 minutes of play.
But in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Heat managed only 16 points against the San Antonio Spurs, and lost by four. It was the seventh straight game where the Heat failed to score 25 in the fourth quarter, after doing so in eight of their first 10 playoff games. And while some of the credit goes to the level of defense Indiana and San Antonio played in those seven games, but it's still a point of Miami emphasis heading into Game 2 of the finals on Sunday night.
"The competition is better," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. "If you're playing against the best defenses, every single night, that's what's going to happen. But we need to do a better job of getting organized, making sure the ball gets to where it needs to go, and then the trust factor, and being able to do it efficiently without making mistakes."
And if Dwyane Wade fights out of his fourth-quarter funk, the Heat numbers down the stretch might look a whole lot different.
Wade is averaging 2.3 points in the fourth quarters of this season's playoff games. In 16 appearances during this postseason, he's scored two points or less in the fourth quarter 11 times — with two points, total, in the final 12 minutes of his last three games.
"I don't think I was as aggressive in the second half as I was in the first half last game, especially in the fourth," Wade said. "Just be more aggressive. Take the opportunities that I have. But also go get a few myself."
Wade has been dealing with a sore right knee for about three months, and his numbers would suggest that as a game goes along, the knee gets worse and therefore limits his productivity.
He isn't buying into that thinking.
"I've been in this state for almost three months now," Wade said. "I've adjusted to playing with it. You just got to do what you have to do."
Miami shot just over 48 percent in the fourth quarter of regular-season games. In its last seven games, that clip has dropped to 40 percent. More than a few players — LeBron James included — said fighting fatigue, particularly after the seven-game grind that was needed to beat Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals, was part of the reason why the Heat shot just 5 for 18 in the fourth quarter of Game 1 against the Spurs.
San Antonio won the fourth quarter of Game 1 by seven points, 23-16 — turning a three-point deficit into a four-point win.
"We have to dig down," James said. "It's about will. We're a team that expends a lot of energy on both sides of the floor. But we have to figure out a way to have some in the fourth quarter for sure, when it's closing time."
CENTURY MARK: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan are nearing yet another milestone.
San Antonio's win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Miami marked the 99th time that the Spurs' longtime trio of stars played in a postseason win together. Only one other threesome in NBA history — that being the Los Angeles Lakers' Michael Cooper, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson — have ever teamed up for 100 postseason victories.