Pardon Tracy McGrady if he sometimes forgets to use “we’’ when talking about the San Antonio Spurs. “Give San Antonio some credit of defending (LeBron James),’’ McGrady said Wednesday as if he were talking about some team in the league other than his own. But McGrady actually is a member of the Spurs. The 16-year veteran signed with them as a free agent April 16 and now sits at the end of the bench as he tries to cap his NBA career with a first championship ring. McGrady has played just 15 mop-up minutes in the first three games of the NBA Finals, but he can offer a unique perspective on how the Spurs are defending James. McGrady once was a high-scoring small forward himself who was frustrated at times by San Antonio’s defense. OK, McGrady did have the legendary 2004-05 game against the Spurs when he scored 13 points in the final 35 seconds of a dramatic 81-80 win while with Houston. But he also had outings against them such as in 2003-04, when he won his second of two NBA scoring titles with Orlando. In two games that season with San Antonio, he shot an atrocious 15 of 48, including 1 of 13 from 3-point range. Now, McGrady, 34, is watching with interest as the Spurs are having success slowing down the high-scoring James in the Finals. James is averaging 16.7 points, about 10 below his regular-season number, while shooting 38.9 percent as his Miami Heat trail 2-1 entering Thursday’s Game 4 at the AT&T Center. “We’re doing a hell of job,’’ McGrady said after remembering he indeed now is a member of the Spurs. “We’ve got a guy (Kawhi Leonard) on him and when he drives, we got our big guys coming and just compacting the lane, keeping him off the free-throw line. When you’re not getting to the free-throw line and hitting free throws and you’re not getting layups, then the only thing left is for you to take jumpers. Then you’re not in a rhythm.’’ James indeed said Wednesday some of his struggles are “me being out of rhythm.’’ That certainly looked to be the case when he shot just 7 of 21 for 15 points in Tuesday’s 113-77 loss in Game 3. He failed to get to the foul line for the first time in a game since Dec. 2, 2009 when he was with Cleveland. “It’s not like he’s a shooter like (Heat swingman) Mike Miller, who can just come off the bench and just fire up threes,’’ McGrady said about James. “He’s just not that type of player. He has to get in rhythm. … Once you start feeling confident, then you start shooting the ball.’’ But the Spurs aren’t letting him get that confidence by sending numerous bodies at James. And when he passes off, his teammates often aren’t making shots.
Tracy McGrady says Spurs taking LeBron out of rhythm
Fox Sports Florida | Jun 13