A bundle of news and notes from here in San Antonio:
### No team except the Bulls held LeBron James to a lower scoring average (18.5) and field goal percentage (42.4) than the Spurs did this season.
And though he eventually broke through to average 25.3 points and win series MVP in last year’s Finals, the Spurs held him to 44.7 percent shooting, his second-lowest ever in a playoff series as a member of the Heat. James shot 38.9 percent in the first three games, 47.9 in the final four, when he started making the jump shots that the Spurs were daring him to take.
The Heat will not be surprised if the Spurs try a similar approach in these Finals. But, as coach Erik Spoelstra said Wednesday, “He has a great way of figuring it out. It it’s making open shots, there are a lot worse problems you can have.”
Though James ultimately prevailed in last year’s Finals, two Spurs defenders made it difficult on him: Kawhi Leonard, who was voted second-team All Defense this year, and Boris Diaw, against whom James shot 3 for 21 in last year’s Finals, according to ESPN.
"Kawhi has done a great job last year in The Finals and this year in the games using his length and staying front of [James],” Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. “Physically, LeBron’s just a monster. We’ve got to make his life as difficult as possible, keep him out of the open court, keep him away from the rim, make him work for everything he gets.”
Leonard said Wednesday that even with “knowing his tendencies, it’s still going to be hard to stop him.”
ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy said off the air Wednesday that the James/Leonard matchup is “the best part of this series…. We don’t know where Leonard is going to reach. You look at his demeanor, improving skill set. He has a chance to be very, very good.”
Diaw on Wednesday took no credit for his defensive work on James in last year’s Finals, noting “he missed shots on his own.”
As for James, he addressed several topics during an introspective session with reporters on Wednesday:
### He said he is putting “no pressure” on himself in these Finals.
“I don’t really care what people say about me or how people categorize my so-called legacy or the way they think I should be,” he said.
“…I play for my teammates, our team, the city of Miami, my friends and family, and I gave it all for that. At the end of the day, win, lose or draw, I’m satisfied with that. I don’t get involved in what people say about me and my legacy. I think it’s actually kind of stupid.”
### He was flattered by Pacers coach Frank Vogel calling him the Michael Jordan of this era. “Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever play our game. So to be in the same breath as Michael Jordan is very humbling.”
### He said after the Heat lost the 2011 Finals, he spoke with Jerry West and Isiah Thomas “and asked them questions about what it took to get over the hump. They gave me some great pointers that I like to keep in my Rolodex until I decide to write a book when I’m done. Those guys were very helpful.”
### On how much he has changed since those 2011 Finals: “More than a player, I grew as a man. I have a beautiful family. I’m a father to two. I grew more as a man and I think that’s what helped my game.”
### He said he has “changed my game since I got to Miami in that I was probably 75 to 85 percent pick-and-rolls in Cleveland, and after that, it was isolation. Now I would say I’m 40 percent post-ups, 40 percent pick-and-rolls and not even as much isos.”
### He said he expects to tinker with his game further as he ages. “Me high flying and doing the things that I’m able to do now at 29, at 36 maybe I wouldn’t be able to do it. I will change my game again, if I want to continue to be helpful to a team.”
Please see the last post for why LeBron said today he feels slighted.
MORE HEAT, SPURS NUGGETS
Forward Rashard Lewis, who played just 12 minutes in last year’s Finals, has gone from midseason afterthought to a rotation piece and potential starter in Game 1 of the Finals, if coach Erik Spoelstra sticks with the lineup he used to close out the Indiana series.
Lewis played just 28 minutes between Feb. 1 and late March, but the Heat recently has thrived with Lewis on the court.
The Heat has outscored opponents by 92 points in Lewis’ 204 postseason minutes and was a plus-58 during his time on the court in the final four games of the Eastern Conference Finals, the last three of which Lewis started.
After shooting 0 for 7 in the first two of those four games, Lewis ended the Indiana series by hitting 11 of his last 21 shots, including 9 for 16 on threes.
“It’s satisfying,” Lewis said. “Coach has the option of playing me, Shane Battier or Udonis Haslem depending on who’s on the court. It’s good to have those many options.”
With Mike Miller, among others, ahead of him in the rotation last June, Lewis appeared in only three games of the 2013 Finals, shooting 2 for 6.
Besides having Lewis, Battier and Haslem, Spoelstra also can use Chris Bosh or Chris Andersen at power forward when those two play at the same time.
The Heat is a plus 13 in Battier’s 169 minutes in the playoffs, and he’s shooting 9 for 18 on three-pointers.
Haslem started the Heat’s Game 2 and Game 3 wins against Indiana, but Miami has been outscored by 56 points in his 146 minutes this postseason.
Spoelstra’s ability to use Lewis, Battier or Haslem at power forward “gives us three chances of finding a guy who has a game going,” Battier said, laughing. “That’s the biggest advantage. Hopefully one of us will play well in a given game.”
### LeBron was named first team All-NBA, and the only surprise was that it wasn’t unanimous. James was selected to the first team on all 125 ballots except the one submitted by Chris Sheridan of Sheridanhoops.com.
No other Heat player was named to the first, second or third teams. Dwyane Wade, who missed 28 games this season, finished 29th and failed to make any All-NBA team for the first time since 2008. Bosh was 37th in voting.
### Bosh averaged just 11.9 points in last year’s Finals and shot 0 for 6 on three-pointers.
“The three is not something I’m going to lean on,” he said Wednesday. “I’m going to try to get into the paint as much as possible. That’s the part of my game I need to work on. The three will always be there…. The last few games I made an effort to look for my shot.”
### Bosh, on playing so many games the past four years: “It’s what we signed up for; it’s what people remember you for. When they see me limping later on, when I’m closer to 40 and they see my bad knees, you’ll be able to look at the tape and understand why. I don’t even know what re-invigorated feels like anymore.”
### Unlike Bosh, Wade said he draws no motivation from Tim Duncan saying last weekend that the Spurs will win this series.
“When you are in the Finals, you are supposed to think you’re going to win,” Wade said. “I think we get microphones in our face too much.”
### In his career, James has opened seven playoff series on the road, and he has lost all seven, by an average of 12.3 points.
## Ray Allen said that once or twice a week, he still sees video of his series-saving Game 6 three-pointer in last year’s Finals. “It’s hard for me not to see it, because [of] social media.”
### Tony Parker, bothered by an ankle injury that sidelined him for the second half of the Spurs’ closeout win in the Western Conference Finals, expects to play in the opener of the NBA Finals on Thursday and coach Gregg Popovich said “he’s going to be fine.”
But Parker admitted Wednesday he feels “a little bit” concerned about how he will feel over the course of the series. “I’ve been playing for four years nonstop, since 2010, no vacation,” he said. “I did everything I can treatment wise and hope I can be 100 percent.”
Parker sprained the ankle in Game 4 of the Spurs’ first-round series against Dallas, then re-injured it in Game 4 of the conference finals.
He played in the first half of Game 6 against the Thunder on Saturday, but his mobility was limited with cuts, and Popovich would not allow him to play in the second half.
If Parker is re-injured, Popovich could turn to Patty Mills, Corey Joseph or shooting guard Manu Ginobili, who ran the offense for the final 13 minutes of Saturday’s game.
### No Spur was more disappointed in his 2013 Finals performance than Ginobili, who committed eight turnovers in the Game 6 loss at Miami and four more in the Game 7 defeat.
“It was a bad experience,” Ginobili said Wednesday. “It stays in your head for a while.”
### Tim Duncan couldn't believe that the Heat made an issue of his comment that the Spurs intend to win the Finals this year.
"I don't know what I said that was so bad," he said. "Everybody keeps talking about it. I said I wanted to win the Finals. We're back here now and I wanted to win. If they need to find fuel in that, so be it."
Duncan also was mystified by LeBron James’ remark that the Spurs don’t like the Heat.
"I don't know what he was talking about,” Duncan said. “But if he needs to find fuel in that, so be it. I don't have a problem with them individually or as a team. I respect what they've done. Unfortunately for them, we're here trying to win."
### Duncan, 38, shrugged off Charles Barkley’s comment suggesting he might retire if the Spurs win the championship.
“I don’t know when I’m going to retire; I don’t know what the factors are going to be,” he said.
Popovich cracked that Duncan probably will end his career in “the third quarter of some game on the road some year, and he’ll feel like he’s not as significant and he’ll walk into the locker-room.”
### Spurs guard Danny Green said at the start of training camp, Popovich showed the team clips of their Game 6 and 7 losses in The Finals.
“He wanted to make a point about mistakes we made,” Green said. “We’ve seen it a couple times throughout the season.”
### Ginobili, on the Spurs’ ability to keep winning as their roster ages: “Since 2007, I’ve been hearing: ‘This might be the best chance and the window is closing.’ We’re still here.”
### The Spurs have won each of their five Finals openers, by 10.4 points on average.
### There have been 12 Finals in NBA history that featured a rematch of the previous year’s championship series. The team that lost the first has won the second in five of the past six rematches.
But overall, the team defending its title has won six of the 12, including the most recent rematch in 1997, when the Bulls beat Utah for a second consecutive year.
Three quick UM items:
### Hurricanes football, this week, got its 12th oral commitment for 2015 when three-star Venice High offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier orally committed. Of UM's dozen oral commitments, nine are rated three-star recruits by rivals.com. Four are rated four-star prospects.
### UM basketball remains very much in the mix for two transfers, but unfortunately, both would be required to sit out this season.
One of them, 6-8 forward Kamari Murphy, told ESPN he will visit UM after visiting USF. He averaged 6.1 points and 6.3 rebounds for Oklahoma State last season.
Meanwhile, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports former Alabama 6-8 power forward Nick Jacobs will choose between UM and Georgia Tech. He averaged 8.4 points and 3.5 rebounds and shot 52 percent last season while averaging 20 minutes a game.
### Former UM safety AJ Highsmith, Alonzo's son, announced on Instagram that he will no longer play football. He auditioned for the San Francisco 49ers last month after going undrafted.