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Containing Tony Parker, the Spurs and the pick-and-roll

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Miami has not seen an offensive player as productive as Tony Parker this postseason, and the simple pick-and-roll, and all of the other movement San Antonio runs with it, will be a battle for Miami to contain.

Whoever is defending Tony Parker in the Finals will run into a lot of these screens
Whoever is defending Tony Parker in the Finals will run into a lot of these screens

Miami knows one way to play defense. That is aggressively.

This extends to defending the pick-and-roll.

Hedging screens really hard is the base set, but blitzing ball-handlers anywhere on the floor is a common habit. Trapping side screen-and-rolls and depending on timely weakside rotations is the goal for the Heat, and they do all of this as well as anyone on earth.

It all works beautifully when it's in rhythm, with the Heat's long, quick big men and athletic perimeter players covering ground in what seems like a frenetic mess when it is actually perfectly organized chaos.

But this system is about to best tested. Really tested. Because the San Antonio Spurs are an offensive juggernaut with the tools to break down Miami's aggressive nature, from the slick decisions of its All-Star point guard to the extra passes they are capable of swinging on the perimeter. The Spurs were 4th in the league in 3-point efficiency during the regular season, much of it coming from precise ball movement and creative misdirection.

A lot of the Spurs attack will start with the pick-and-roll. According to Synergy Sports Data from the regular season, the Spurs got a shot from a ball-handler in the pick-and-roll on 15.7 percent of their possessions and shot roughly 45 percent on them, which ranked seventh in the NBA. On 7.6 percent of their possessions, the roll-man finished on 54 percent shooting, good for fourth in the league.

The pick-and-roll is a very simple play, but when a heady point guard who almost never makes bad decisions runs the show, it's a nightmare to deal with. If a player the caliber of Parker knows the Heat's traps are coming, he will be way ahead of Miami and make lead passes that will pick the Heat apart. Parker is coming off a Western Conference Finals where he obliterated another elite defense, the Memphis Grizzlies.

You can try to give Parker different looks, but he'll ultimately figure it out. He doesn't turn the ball over much at all either.

If you're Miami, you probably don't want to stray from your identity too much, but you also want to pay a lot of attention to detail with every move Parker makes. This also means precise rotations and well-timed traps are the only way to be effective against a team like this. In the WCF, Parker toyed with the Grizzlies at times, especially when they showed indecision in defending him in the pick-and-roll.

The simple pick-and-roll of the Spurs will meet the brute pressure of the Heat in a fascinating layer of the 2013 NBA Finals.