Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
One blowout each way, and a shot for the ages: What’s surprised you?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Three games in, I’m most surprised that the Spurs’ second tier of players have performed so well. This is their first time in these bright lights, yet you couldn’t tell it from Kawhi Leonard‘s, Danny Green‘s or Gary Neal‘s performances. Their big-stage-experience-to-stellar play ratio is off the charts right now, best in the series by far.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: The strong, solid, all-around play of Kawhi Leonard. We have seen him grow and mature all season and through earlier rounds of the playoffs. But he’s stepped onto the biggest stage and been the most consistent player in the series so far at both ends of the floor. He’s shown no reluctance to take big shots, has been a monster on the boards and, of course, is playing the lion’s share of the defense against LeBron James. This is big stuff.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: I picked Spurs to win in six so them being up 2-1 is right where I had it pegged. Now, I didn’t necessarily see two blowouts, but honestly, nothing really surprises me anymore. We always wanted to read so much into each game and how it will affect the next and which team has momentum. The truth is there is no carryover. Each game is its own entity. If there is a surprise it is that two teams with three “superstars” (yes, two of the Spurs’ three are long in the tooth) have been buoyed by the play of the role guys. And, again, maybe that shouldn’t be surprising. We see it all the time when we focus so intently on certain players, someone else jumps up and makes plays.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I’m not surprised that the Spurs are up 2-1, but I am surprised that we’ve had two blowouts, because both of these teams are too good to get their butts kicked like that. Obviously, the hot shooting from Mike Miller, Danny Green and Gary Neal is pretty amazing, but it’s also big that the Spurs – who ranked 29th in offensive rebounding percentage in the regular season – have been able to grab 40 offensive boards in three games.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I saw the Heat’s Game 2 rout coming. I did not see the Spurs’ Game 3 answer coming. No one outside of Dancin’ Danny Green and maybe Gary Neal saw it coming. The biggest surprise for me is the way the Spurs’ youngsters are leading the way. I didn’t think there was any way Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker could play the way they have and the Spurs would lead this series after three games. The way the Spurs’ Big 3 has stepped aside for the Lil’ 3 has been extremely impressive. It takes a true team attitude from top to bottom for something like this to happen on this stage. They’ve been incredible on both ends of the floor and when the shots start falling the way they did in Game 3 … you can’t do anything but sit back and enjoy the show.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Coming into this series, I had no idea what to expect. Both teams seemed pretty evenly matched, from on the court to along the sidelines, and it was hard to see any obvious advantage for either team. I suppose the most surprising performance has been from Manu Ginobili, who posted 13 points in Game 1 but then went for 5 in Game 2 and 7 in Game 3. The Heat don’t really have strong perimeter defenders to throw at him, but he’s still struggled to find his way offensively.
Philipp Dornhegge, NBA Deutschland: The fact that none of the two Big Threes has played up to his potential so far feels weird. We were expecting a showdown between LeBron and Parker with some Duncan moments in between, but what we’re getting is heavy doses of Green, Leonard and Neal vs. Mike Miller, Norris Cole and the occasional Mario Chalmers. Three games into The Finals, there’s no player or even a small group of players running away with the MVP award. Instead, it’s completely up in the air. Right now, you might have to give it to Leonard for playing LeBron to a tie. If that’s not surprising, I don’t know what is.
Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: This series has been a huge surprise from the beginning. LeBron playing some of his worst hoops ever is one of the biggest, especially after the triple-double in Game 1. The Spurs are really defending well on him and lead 2-1 even with their Big Three not playing particularly well (27 points combined in Game 2, 25 in Game 3, their worst combined performance ever). And raise your hand if you had Danny Green as top scorer (56 points, 19-23 from downtown) through three games games. Or Kawhi Leonard as early candidate for Finals MVP. And I’m pretty sure surprises are not over yet.