Tag: San Antonio Miami

2014 NBA Finals - Game Three

Spurs have hot shooting first half, hustle plays late to pick up comfortable win in Miami


San Antonio started off this game shooting hotter than any team in NBA Finals history had for a half (75.8 percent). They were back to being the dominant Spurs and the Heat looked shell shocked.

Yet even when the Spurs pushed the lead up to 25, the entire American Airlines Arena — and anyone who has seen the Heat play before — knew a run was coming. The Heat were going to try and force chaos on the game, where Miami thrives.

They did. It got all the way to 7 points in the third quarter.

Then the Spurs restored order.

Led by as good a game as Kawhi Leonard has ever played — 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and he was better on the defensive end on LeBron James — the San Antonio Spurs won 111-96 on the road and took Game 3.

The Spurs took a 2-1 series lead and that makes Thursday’s Game 4 pretty much a must win for the Heat. That said the Spurs won Game 3 of last year’s NBA Finals handily as well, this still feels like a series that will go long.

“They came out at a different gear than what we were playing at, and it just seemed we were on our heels the most part of the first half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game. “And then when we started to get to a different gear in the third quarter, it was just tough to change the energy of the game.”

“They beat us and really we didn’t bring an urgency to this game tonight,” Ray Allen said in the Heat locker room. “We were just too casual.”

What has to make the Spurs feel good is they won this game on a night Tim Duncan had 14 points and Tony Parker had 15 on 4-of-10 shooting — it was the role players, and their exquisite ball movement, that keyed the offense.

San Antonio took charge from the opening tip when they shot 86.7 percent in the first quarter — they started out 19-of-21 shooting, they were 7-of-10 from three, and Boris Diaw, inserted into the starting lineup for Tiago Splitter, was +22 in the first half. The Spurs first quarter was insane as they hit 9-of-10 inside 8 feet, 4-of-4 from three, and missed their only shot from the midrange (remember the Heat forced the Spurs into 23 midrange shots in Game 2, but the Spurs were getting to the rim again in Game 3).

Kawhi Leonard, who had not stood out in the first two games, had 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first half (his 29 for the game is the most he has scored since high school).

“We just wanted (Leonard) to be who he’s been the whole year, in the regular season and in the playoffs,” Gregg Popovich said after the game. “I think the foul situations the first two games really he overreacted to them and became very cautious, and he doesn’t play like that.  He’s got to be real active at both ends, and so he figured it out.”

Danny Green added 13 after starting 6-of-6 shooting in the first half, he finished with 15.

The result was a 71-50 San Antonio lead at the half, which had been as much as 25 at one point. That is even more impressive when you remember San Antonio did that on the road against a Heat team that had not last at home all playoffs.

The Heat made their expected run in the third quarter, outscoring the Spurs 25-15 and holding San Antonio to 31.6 percent shooting. The Heat had a 10-0 run and cut the lead to seven with just more than two minutes left in the third. They were pressuring the ball and forcing misses.

But then the Spurs got back to crisp ball movement out of the pressure, plus they just won the hustle plays (such as Leonard chasing down Ray Allen on a breakaway and forcing a miss). The Spurs won the fourth quarter 25-17 and shot 58 percent in the Final frame.

The desperate Spurs played harder, more physical and smarter basketball all night. They earned the win and put the pressure on the Heat.

Spurs blistering, historically hot first half shooting gives them 71-50 lead

2014 NBA Finals - Game Three

If you thought the Spurs hot fourth quarter of Game 1 was just all about LeBron James being off the court, I hope you were watching Game 3.

San Antonio shot an NBA record 76 percent for an NBA Finals half — they started out 19-of-21 in the first quarter, “cooled off” to shoot 25-of-33 for the half, they were 7-of-10 from three and Boris Diaw, inserted into the starting lineup for Tiago Splitter, was +22 in the first half.

The result was a 71-50 San Antonio lead at the half. Which is even more impressive when you remember they are on the road.

The Spurs first quarter was insane as they hit 9-of-10 inside 8 feet, 4-of-4 from three, and missed their only shot from the midrange (remember the Heat forced the Spurs into 23 midrange shots in Game 2, but they were getting to the rim again in Game 3.

Kawhi Leonard, who had not stood out in the first two games, had 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first half. Danny Green added 13 after starting 6-of-6 shooting.

The Spurs at one point had the lead up to 25.

The Heat defense was not sharp, although it wasn’t as bad as the Spurs made it look — Miami miss some rotations and were late on some closeouts, but even when they defended the pick-and-roll well (as they did for stretches) it didn’t matter. San Antonio just hit the shot.

The Heat shot 56 percent themselves and got 16 points out of LeBron James, but they also had 10 turnovers.

The Heat went on a run at one point getting the lead down to “just 14” but the Spurs had pushed it up by the half again.

Manu Ginobili shooter’s roll three caps off 41-point first quarter for Spurs (VIDEO)

Manu Ginobili
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San Antonio was in video game mode to open this game.

The Spurs put up 41 points in the first quarter on 13-of-15 shooting for the quarter. Kawhi Leonard was 5-of-5 for 16 points in the first quarter.

This shot pretty much summed up the quarter and made it 41-25 after the first quarter. San Antonio extended that lead in the second quarter.

NBA Finals Game 3 preview: Spurs need to get into the paint, keep LeBron out of it

LeBron James, Chris Bosh

Game 2 of these NBA Finals will be remembered for LeBron James going off. As they should be. He did, to the tune of 35 and 10, plus he got other teammates involved late.

But that’s not the only Spurs problem from Game 2.

Miami played much improved defense in Game 2. That defensive energy and strategy are something coming on the plane with them back to Miami and Game 3 at the American Airlines Arena on Tuesday night. It’s what the Spurs have to adjust to if they are going to steal a game in Florida and even the series.

Miami is 8-0 in the playoffs at home, although they came out of the weak East so take that number with a few grains of salt.

In Game 2 Miami mostly switched pick-and-rolls, which they can do because Chris Bosh is one of the better pick-and-roll defending big men in the NBA (he can challenge the ball handler, then recover as needed, plus he did a good job of closing out on Boris Diaw at the arc in the final minutes). This was a change from the Heat’s default defense of trapping the ball handler, and it worked because with the switch the other defenders could stay home on their shooters. The bottom line is it kept the Spurs from just owning the paint — San Antonio took 11 midrange jumpers in Game 1 and 23 in Game 2. They did take a step back and hit nine three pointers in the second half of Game 2, but they need to get into the paint more.

That is the Spurs challenge in Game 3 is to get back inside consistently — then finish the play. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter were a combined 14-of-16 shooting in the paint in Game 1, but in Game 2 they shot just 8-of-14 in the restricted area as the more aggressive Heat challenged everything.

One thing to watch for, which we saw a little of in Game 2, was the lineup the Spurs used a lot in 2013 — Tim Duncan in the paint and four perimeter players to space the floor around him. Splitter may start but the two big thing is not where the Spurs will spend most of the game. (Boris Diaw lets Popovich go small without actually going small.)

With Miami back home you can expect another good game from LeBron, but the real key is the support. Chris Bosh continues to space the floor and hit big shots. Dwyane Wade has been solid but expect in one of these next to games for him to do more than just flop on Manu Ginobili. The other big key is so far has been Rashard Lewis, who has been a threat from three and played solid defense.

Mario Chalmers has struggled through this series, if he continues to there will be some Noris Cole and a lot of no point guard lineups. Erik Spoelstra has shown the ability to adapt, and he will go with what works in terms of lineups.

But at the end of the day he has the best weapon in the game in LeBron James. And there is no good matchup for that.

LeBron James virtually unstoppable inside, outside, drops 35 (VIDEO)

LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs remain the team that better uses their system to extract the most from their players, they are the coach’s dream where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

But the Heat have LeBron James.

That was enough to even the NBA Finals at 1-1. LeBron went off for 35 points on 64 percent shooting and carried the Heat to the Game 2 win.

In the video above you see how LeBron’s game just took what the Spurs gave him. In the first half they were more up in his face, playing him tight, so he put the ball on the floor and drove to the rim. At halftime the Spurs adjusted, played back on him to take away those drives and he just drained jumper after jumper. What else can the Spurs do?

“Well, you can go double him if you want,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game, when asked why they didn’t. “He’s a pretty good player.  I’m going to guess he’s going to find the open man.”

LeBron did that too, with Chris Bosh in the corner for a three that put Miami ahead for the night.

PBT Extra: Who has upper hand in NBA Finals now?