NBA Finals Heat vs. Spurs Game 2: Spurs rain threes, blow out Heat 113-77

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It was San Antonio’s turn for a blowout.

After an ugly Game 2 loss the Spurs came out and rained down an NBA Finals record 16 threes — led by Danny Green with 7 and Gary Neal with 6, those two combined for 51 points and this was a complete domination by the Spurs, 113-77. San Antonio dominated the second half,  turning a six-point halftime lead into a 36 point thrashing of Miami. The Spurs take a 2-1 series lead.

Miami were not nearly as aggressive defensively as Game 2 and the Spurs exploited the openings with precision. But a sign of the effort was the Spurs grabbing 19 offensive rebounds — they got the offensive board on 42.2 percent of their missed shots. That’s just hustle and desire, which the Spurs had in truckloads and the Heat apparently left in Miami.

San Antonio had a good defensive game plan as well, they gave the Heat midrange jumpers and Miami clanked them. But this was a night the Spurs offense could do no wrong.

Game 4 is Thursday night.

END OF FOURTH QUARTER: It ends 113-77 Spurs, they have 16 threes.

1:35 Fourth Quarter: It’s a 33 point Spurs lead as the stats get skewed in garbage time.

3:39 Fourth Quarter: Gary Neal and Danny Green a combined 13-of-19 from three.

4:21 Fourth Quarter: Spurs 16-30 from three.

5:43 Fourth Quarter: Gregg Popovich and Eric Spoelstra have emptied the benches. Just like last game the final five minutes of this one are garbage time.

6:39 Fourth Quarter: Tracy McGrady enters the game to a standing ovation. 28 point Spurs lead now.

7:47 Fourth Quarter: Lead was up to 29, down to 23… it’s a blowout but a frustrated Popovich called a timeout. Spoelstra leaving his stars out there, let them soak up this experience, maybe motivate them for the next game. Heat defense isn’t good tonight, let the Spurs shooters get going and then it was over.

9:38 Fourth Quarter: 13-0 run by Spurs to start fourth. The Spurs are up by 26 now and this place is deafening. The Spurs fans are eating this up.

10:33 Fourth Quarter: Gary Neal with two long bomb threes to start the fourth, and we are back to blowout mode, 21 point lead.

11:41 Fourth Quarter: Tony Parker back in the game. Whatever was bothering him (seemed to be working on hamstring) he’s playing through it.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: Heat with 13 turnovers in three quarters. They had 14 in the first two games combined.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: 78-63 Spurs. This quarter was all Spurs as they led by more than 20 at one point, but a nine point run by LeBron makes it 15 at the half (there was a Ginobili bucket at the end of the quarter). That was enough of a Heat run to force Popovich to take the start of this quarter seriously. We may see Duncan soon.

:22 Third Quarter: LeBron with nine straight points, knocking down jumpers and it is down to 13 point Spurs lead.

2:54 Third Quarter: It is 73-52 Spurs. Miami is just missing everything, good look or not, and the Spurs are moving the ball and getting the looks they like.

3:36 Third Quarter: LeBron 2-of-12 to start, just like last game. Spurs now up 17 and in total control.

4:09 Third Quarter: Tony Parker has gone back to the locker room. It’s not mattering, Spurs up 17.

5:07 Third Quarter: Leonard makes steal and Ginobili finishes in transition. Spurs by 14 now.

6:00 Third Quarter: Mike Miller hits another, now 8-8 from three in this series. He’s the only guy knocking down outside shot for the Heat.

7:29 Third Quarter: Mike Miller comes in and knocks down a three, but two Kawhi Leonard offensive boards lead to a Danny Green three. 62-49 Spurs.

9:44 Third Quarter: Wade is struggling to start the second half. Meanwhile Danny Green three and real hustle from the Spurs — Duncan blocks and saves, then Leonard saves the saves to transition foul. 59-46 Spurs, 13 points is largest of the game.

10:28 Third Quarter: Duncan and Haslem push all the way up the court, then suddenly Duncan gets called 54-46 Spurs.

11:44 Third Quarter: Heat try to post LeBron, and Leonard jumps around him for steal, creates transition opportunity where Splitter was fouled. 52-44 Spurs.

HALFTIME: Halftime in the arena is one of the best — Quick Change. You get David Stern on TV? Sucks for you.

HALFTIME: Slow pace in the first half, 41 possessions. That certainly favors the Spurs.

HALFTIME: Heat led by 12 points by Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh by 10. LeBron 4 points on 2-of-8 shooting.

HALFTIME: Spurs hit 7-15 from three. Gary Neal leads them with 14 points off the bench, Tim Duncan has 10. Spurs also with 11 offensive rebounds, which is crazy high.

HALFTIME: 50-44 Spurs. Tony Parker tough leaning three, then Gary Neal defends LeBron James well then hits a three at the buzzer. Great close to quarter for Spurs.

:52 Second Quarter: Mike Miller with trail three ball in transition. 44-42 Spurs.

1:33 Second Quarter: Two straight Spurs turnovers lead to Heat points, Now 43-39 Spurs. 7-0 Heat run.

2:24 Second Quarter: Heat now 5-18 from outside the edge of the restricted area to the three point line. (Heat 6-10 in restricted area, also not great.)

3:00 Second Quarter: Gary Neal hits three, which is answered by Mike Miller at the other end. 43-35 Spurs.

4:35 Second Quarter: The Spurs are packing the paint again, LeBron tries to shoot over it from three and misses, Kawhi Leonard leaked out on the challenge, Tim Duncan rebounds and outlets to Leonard for the dunk. 40-30 Spurs.

5:47 Second Quarter: Mario Chalmers gets his third foul on an offensive drive. Heat go with no PG lineup. 36-28 Spurs.

6:45 Second Quarter: Dwyane Wade helps off Danny Green… Wade chose, poorly. Heat had stuck with Green all night but he made them pay here. 32-26 Spurs.

7:09 Second Quarter: Spurs went through a 1-11 shooting stretch. 29-26 Spurs.

7:47 Second Quarter: And as I type that, Bosh hits an elbow jumper. Combine that with a Norris Cole three and it is 27-26 Spurs, a 1 point game.

8:37 Second Quarter: Heat start game 1-9 from the midrange. Got to hit some of those.

9:07 Second Quarter: The Spurs are doing a great job of having bodies in the paint every time LeBron drives. The result is sometimes he settles. 27-20 Spurs.

9:47 Second Quarter: Referees letting them play tonight inside, teams need to adjust, not just look for calls.

10:21 Second Quarter: Gary Neal three stretches out Spurs lead 27-20.

11:03 Second Quarter: Lots of great hustle plays from the Spurs.

START OF SECOND QUARTER: Spurs shot 11-18, 61.1 percent in the first quarter. They are attacking and getting into the paint.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: 24-20 San Antonio. Spurs led by as many as eight, but Dwyane Wade hits 4-of-5 shots to keep Miami in mix.

:30 First Quarter: LeBron has 2 points but 3 assists as he draws the defense and moves the ball in this game. It’s a question of if he gets help.

1:00 First Quarter: Norris Cole and Gary Neal trade buckets. Then the Birdman cuts, gets the ball and dunks. 22-20 Spurs.

2:20 First Quarter: Early minutes for Matt Bonner and Curtis Joseph of the Spurs, with Gary Neal and Boris Diaw back in the rotation.

3:43 First Quarter: Manu Ginobili can still dunk! Pump fake at the arc, drove and there was no help. 17-14 Spurs.

4:08 First Quarter: Wade has scored or assisted on 10 of the Heat’s 12 points.

4:08 First Quarter: Wade steals the ball from Parker, runs the floor and gets the pass from LeBron to score in transition. 15-12 Spurs.

6:29 First Quarter: Heat came out of a timeout with an open Wade jumper then getting points in the paint and offensive boards. 13-7 Spurs.

6:29 First Quarter: Spurs are getting into the lane for attempts and kick-outs. Heat are working the ball around the perimeter then missing.

6:35 First Quarter: Heat start 2-9 shooting, with Bosh 1-of-5 and getting good looks he is just missing. 11-4 Spurs.

7:47 First Quarter: Duncan starts 1-4 shooting, but Kawhi Leonard has five yearly points. 9-4 Spurs.

9:15 First Quarter: Tony Parker with a jumper that falls, Bosh misses his baseline midrange that the Spurs gave him. 7-4 Spurs.

10:21 First Quarter: Very aggressive Tim Duncan to start, but he missed a shot inside and a couple free throws. 2-2 still.

11:10: First Quarter: Good pick-and-roll with Parker and Duncan and he got to that running hook he loves for a first shot. Wade answers. 2-2.

12:00: First Quarter: Interesting, The Spurs’ 2013 Western Conference championship banner already hanging in the rafters.

12:00: First Quarter: That is one big flag the Spurs waive around on the court.

12:00: First Quarter: Miami, San Antonio will see your child singing the national anthem and up you one cool outfit. (I’ll take him over Hootie any day.)

12:00: First Quarter: Hootie — Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish — was to sing the national anthem but couldn’t get there because of the traffic.

12:00: First Quarter: Traffic heading out to and the arena SUCKS. I say that and I live in Los Angeles. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and other Spurs players got to the arena later than they prefer because of it.

SAN ANTONIO — Greetings, welcome to PBT’s live blog for Game 3 of the NBA Finals, with the series tied 1-1 as we move on to Texas for the next three. Pull up a seat and make yourself comfortable

I’m Kurt, and I’ll be your host, snide comment maker and bartender for the night. Throughout the contest I’ll be updating the game and score, providing some thoughts and mocking a few people. So sit back, enjoy the game and follow along.

Cleveland GM David Griffin: “I hope everybody says we have no chance”

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The Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title. According to bovda.lv, bet $100 on the Warriors to win the title and you get $41.7 dollars. Bet $100 on the Cavaliers and you get $200. And that number is likely to get worse for Warriors fans.

The Cavaliers are okay with that. They like being the underdogs. Look at what GM David Griffin said in a televised interview after they eliminated the Celtics in Game 5, via Cleveland.com.

“I hope everybody says we have no chance,” General Manager David Griffin said during a TV interview following the Cavaliers’ 135-102 win Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, clinching a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

“Obviously the team we’re playing is as good as you can possibly put together, it’s going to be an unbelievable battle for us, but I think [the Cavs] love battling together. The greater the odds, the better we seem to play together. We really do rally around each other in that sense.”

There is some truth to that.

There’s also a difference between that truth and slowing Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. How the Cavaliers are going to do that will be the interesting part of these playoffs.

Detroit’s Van Gundy honored for cooperation with media, fans

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the court.

The Professional Basketball Writers Association announced the winner Friday. Van Gundy was one of five finalists for the award. The others were Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets, Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, David Fizdale of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.

Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors won the award last season.

No surprise: It’s Cavs-Warriors in the NBA Finals, again

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OAKLAND (AP) — Here they go again.

For the third straight year, it’s Cleveland and Golden State in the NBA Finals. The 2016 champions versus the 2015 champions . The first “threematch” – rematch of a rematch – in league history. It’s the matchup most expected, the matchup most predicted, and probably the matchup the Cavaliers and Warriors wanted as well.

Let the hype, and the waiting, begin: Game 1 isn’t until June 1.

“I’ve been very blessed the last few years to be a part of this league and play on the big stage,” said Cleveland star LeBron James, who has now reached the Finals for the eighth time – including each of the last seven years. “But we’re going to enjoy this for a couple more days before we have to lock in on that juggernaut out west.”

The Cavaliers and Warriors split their two meetings this season, both winning at home. Cleveland won by one on Christmas Day, Golden State prevailed by 35 on Jan. 16.

Golden State led the league with 67 wins this season and is a staggering 27-1 in its last 28 games – including a perfect 12-0 in the Western Conference playoffs, the first time a team has gone this deep into an NBA postseason without losing. Cleveland, which seemed sleepy at times in the regular season, went 12-1 in the Eastern Conference playoffs that ended with a win over Boston on Thursday night.

“Playing in this league, you can’t take anything for granted,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “Thirty teams suit up every year trying to get to this point, and only two teams do. So you have to appreciate it. … We need to understand the privilege that we have and the opportunity that we have to play in the Finals again, to have the opportunity to win a championship.”

Already, the back-and-forth is underway.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue was quoted earlier this week saying he thought Boston’s offense was “harder to defend” than Golden State’s. Countered Golden State acting coach Mike Brown, when asked about it Thursday: “That’s his opinion. It’s cute.”

And there will be reminders of the Halloween party that James threw for the Cavaliers last fall, with “3-1 Lead” – a nod to what the Warriors lost in last year’s Finals – prominently displayed on the drum set.

Much more of that sort of that will likely follow over the next week, filling time before Golden State plays host to Game 1. But there’s also a clear respect level between the clubs as well.

“The best team in our league the last three years,” James said of the Warriors. “And they’ve added an unbelievable player in Kevin Durant this year. So it makes it even more difficult. They’re going to challenge us a lot, offensively, defensively, mentally, physically. We have to be ready for the challenge.”

For James, the Finals are an annual rite.

For Durant, this trip ends a five-year wait.

Durant’s only other time in the Finals was 2012 when he was with Oklahoma City. The Thunder lost to Miami in five games, a series that made James a champion for the first time.

At the very moment where the clock ran out in that series, the person James was embracing was Durant – telling the then-Thunder star, his offseason workout partner at the time, how proud of him he was.

“Hopefully,” James said that night, “I don’t continue to have to run into him.”

They’ll collide again, starting next week.

Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder for Golden State as a free agent last summer meant the Warriors went from mere overwhelming favorites to win the West again to super-duper-overwhelming favorites to win the West again. They got a big scare in late February when Durant had a left knee injury, but he’s back and the Warriors have rolled since.

“It’s a little different, definitely. I can’t lie,” Durant said, when comparing the 2012 Finals trip to this one. “I went when I was 23 years old, and it felt like the Western Conference Finals was almost like the championship. Just getting to that point, you know how hard it is and how much work you put in to start the season. So it’s a little different now, obviously. We have a bigger goal in mind.”

The storylines are many. Can James win his fourth ring? Can Durant win his first? Will the Warriors be haunted by letting last season’s 3-1 lead slip away? Will they become the first team in NBA history to go undefeated in a postseason? How will Golden State guard Kyrie Irving? How will Cleveland try to contain Curry?

There’s also the irony that Brown, the first coach who took James to an NBA Finals in 2007 – Cleveland was swept by San Antonio – will now coach against him, likely in the same leading role he’s had for Golden State since head coach Steve Kerr was forced to take a break because of continued problems with his surgically repaired back.

“I don’t care who you’re playing, to make it to the NBA Finals, to win your conference finals, it’s a big task,” Brown said.

The biggest task awaits.

Isaiah Thomas wants Celtics to sign free agents, reportedly they are not looking to trade him (yet)

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The Boston Celtics made a huge leap forward this season: They got the No. 1 seed in the East and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. For a team on the rise, that’s impressive.

However, as soon as they landed the No. 1 pick in this draft, a big question started to bubble up:

What is the future of Isaiah Thomas with this team? Which is a strange thing to say about a guy who averaged 28.9 points per game and was All-NBA this season, but here we are.

First, the Celtics are not looking to trade IT this summer as some have suggested, reports Sean Deveny of the Sporting News.

That starts with All-Star Isaiah Thomas, whose name has lately been the subject of trade speculation. But league sources indicate that any talk of dealing Thomas is strictly speculation at this point — the Celtics have had no such discussions. Not yet, at least.

The challenge for the Celtics seems to be this: If they draft Markelle Fultz No. 1 (as is expected by everyone around the league), then what is the future for Thomas? Do you want to pay Thomas max money just as he turns 29 when you have a stud young point guard coming up behind him?

That led to talk of extending Thomas this summer with the team’s cap space (which assumes they do not sign Gordon Hayward). Except Thomas would rather the money be spent on free agents than himself, as he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN.

“We need the best possible player that’s gonna help us win, and I’m with that,” said Thomas. “Anything Danny and this organization need me to do to help bring even more talent to this city, I’m all for that. I want to win a championship and being so close to getting to the Finals, that makes you want it that much more.

“I’m all help if they need it. I’ll be around.”

Nothing is certain in the NBA, but here is the most likely outcome of the Isaiah Thomas situation: They keep him, they draft Markelle Fultz, they do not extend Thomas (whether they land Hayward or not), and they see how it all fits together for a season. Then they make a decision on Thomas in the summer of 2018. The bottom line is he may well have more value to the Celtics than another team, and while he’s certainly getting a raise from the $6.3 million, he will make next season he may fall short of the max, and in a zone where the Celtics are willing to keep him.

In pure basketball terms, the Celtics may be hesitant to spend on Thomas, but he is also the most popular player on the team by a mile. Letting him go is not that simple.

There are a lot of questions to be answered between now and next summer when it comes to IT.