HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Here’s the thing we’ve known and were reminded of again Sunday night: When LeBron James and the Miami Heat crank it up to full blast, there’s not an outft in the league that can match their speed, athleticism or the ferocity with which they pounce.
With 3:50 to go in the third quarter, the San Antonio Spurs led 62-61 and were closing in on a 2-0 NBA Finals lead and the delicious notion of three in a row coming up in the Alamo City.
Six minutes, 31 seconds later — with 9:19 left in the game — the Spurs trailed 84-65. Ninety-three seconds later it was 91-67 — a 30-5 Miami blitz (it eventually grew to 33-5) that got Spurs coach Gregg Popovich calling Southwest Airlines to jet his boys home.
So after two games and four days on South Beach, the Spurs and Heat are even at 1-1. Here’s what went right and what went wrong in Miami’s 103-84 Game 2 victory:
RIGHT: LeBron needs help, LeBron gets help. Let’s start with the guy that’s been getting beaten up, third-wheel Big Three member Chris Bosh. He was getting the ball inside the 3-point arc rather than outside of it and it allowed him to make a move and get to the elbow for higher-percentage shots. That paid off. Bosh had just 12 points, but he shot 6-for-10, with five of his six buckets coming inside 18 feet. He set an aggressive tone early with a couple of steals and a block in the opening six minutes, and finished with 10 rebounds — four on the offensive glass. Point guard Mario Chalmers led the Heat after three quarters with with 17 points. He finished with 19 and was a high-energy player who was a game-high plus-30 in 35:22.
WRONG: Speaking of point guards, the one that hit the brilliant shot at the end of Game 1 wasn’t very good in Game 2. Tony Parker saw a variety of different looks from the Heat defense (give credit to Miami coach Erik Spoelsta) and he was thrown off his rhythm throughout. Parker had just 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting and got to the free-throw line just twice for four free throws. The big stat was five turnovers, which was five more than he had in Game 1 and one more than the entire team committed in the opener. San Antonio had 17 in Game 2 that led to 19 Heat points and a 17-point edge in points off turnovers.
RIGHT: Back to LeBron, who proved that a triple-double is nothing more than a stat. After getting 18 points, 10 assists and 18 rebounds in the Game 1 loss, the regular-season MVP was 3-for-13 for eight points with five assists and five rebounds. Then came the blow-away fourth quarter with James going 4-for-4 for nine points, three rebounds, two assists and one mammoth Tiago Splitter dunk-blockade, his third block of the game. The King never flinched, got help when he needed it and demoralized the Spurs when it mattered most.
WRONG: Hello Manu Ginobili? Earth to Manu? Come in, Manu. It hasn’t been a pretty postseason for the 35-year-old shooting guard. Game 2 was just the latest example. Ginobili, a whirling dervish of a penetrator throughout his great career was again off the mark, going 2-for-6 from the floor and 1-for-4 from beyond the arc with three turnovers in 17 minutes. The Spurs will need more than that from their sixth man on a bench that suddenly looks rather thin. But hard to pinpoint blame solely on Ginbobili in this one when Tim Duncan and Parker combined to go 8-for-27.
RIGHT: If the Spurs can take a positive out of Game 2, it was the sharp shooting of sharpshooter Danny Green. There was plenty of skepticism out there whether the former second-round pick out of North Carolina could handle the spotlight after he froze in last season’s West finals against Oklahoma City. He’s shown, two games deep into his first NBA Finals, that he can. In Game 2, he busted all five of his deep attempts and was 6-for-6 overall for 17 points. In the first two games, Green is 9-for-14 from beyond the arc. Green is shooting 42.3-percent from 3-point range in the playoffs. The even-better news for the Spurs? Green shot 47.6 percent behind the arc at home.
WRONG: It might not be fair to label this as “wrong.” Maybe “huh?” might be better. But what happened to Dwyane Wade? He had the aggressive, 21-point Game 7 to oust Indiana and pretty strong Game 1. In Game 2, however, Wade played just 2:45 of the fourth quarter and had already left the game in the third quarter when the Heat laid the lumber to San Antonio. Wade had just 10 points (though he had six assists) in less than 30 minutes. Questions will persist about Wade’s ailing right knee, the level the player they once called “Flash” is capable of reaching in these Finals, and if all that will be good enough. On Sunday it was.