Game 3: Heat have chance to take control


VIDEO: The GameTime crew previews Game 3 of The Finals

MIAMI — Two games into the NBA Finals, the Spurs and Heat have split the difference and enter a two-game stand in Miami with the Heat now controlling home-court advantage. And the Heat now have the opportunity to change the story from cramps to champs.

The Basics:

Game 3 tips off Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Break out the white shirts and dos minutos cheers — the series has moved to Miami, where the Heat are an impressive 8-0 this postseason in the AmericanAirlines Arena.

Also, they have this LeBron James guy, who has been stopped thus far only by a buildup of lactic acid.

Through two games against the Heat, the Spurs have played well for the most part, though occasional lapses at important times have been costly. Worried about Tony Parker‘s ankle? Don’t be. Parker is averaging 20 points per game for the series and has driven the Spurs’ offense.

The Narrative:

After being sidelined for the last 4 minutes of Game 1 with leg cramps,  James came out for Game 2 like he had something to prove. While James had been the target of many doubters after his Game 1 injury, he squashed that storyline with a 35-point, 10-rebound tour de force in Miami’s 98-96 Game 2 win.

The Heat are now strapped firmly into the driver’s seat in this series, with the opportunity to win two homes games and leap ahead to a 3-1 series lead.

For the Spurs, they have to hope to repeat their start from the 2013 Finals. In that series, after winning Game 1 and losing Game 2, the Spurs blew out Miami in Game 3 113-87.

While the Spurs have seen big back-to-back games games from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the 38-year-old Tim Duncan has been arguably their best all-around performer. Duncan followed his 25 points and 6 boards in Game 1 with a terrific 18-point, 15-rebound Game 2.

The Subplots:

Chris Bosh‘s consistency through the first two games has been crucial for the Heat. Bosh is not only averaging 18 points per game, but he’s shot a combined 4-for-6 on 3-pointers. Bosh’s ability to take (and make) those outside shots stretches the Spurs’ defense and opens driving lanes for James and Dwyane Wade.

What has made the Spurs so dangerous all season has been their depth and versatility. But in Game 2, no Spurs players other than their big three (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili) managed to score in double figures.

X’s and O’s:

James spent the first half of Game 2 attacking the rim over and over and finding little resistance. But in the second half, James made a living with his jump shot, knocking down eight shots outside the paint and forcing the Spurs to run at him, which gave other Heat players plenty of opportunities to create and finish (it was a Bosh-to-Wade pass that sealed the game).

The Spurs racked up 23 turnovers in Game 1 and still managed to hang on for the win. They cut that down to just 11 turnovers in Game 2, but had no answer for James. Also worth noting, while Parker led the Spurs with seven assists in Game 2, big men Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter tied for runner-up status, as each contributed five assists.

Who’s Hot?

Rashard Lewis has used the playoffs to play his way into Miami’s starting lineup. And while coach Erik Spoelstra likes mixing and matching supporting players, Lewis has been consistent, averaging 12 points per game in nearly 30 minutes a night.

After last year’s disastrous Finals performances when he tried to play through injury, through two games Ginobili is back to being the dynamic scoring playmaker that leads the Spurs’ bench.

Whatever happened to …

Matt Bonner went from starting Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Thunder to not playing Game 1 against Miami, and then playing just 1 minute in Game 2. Perhaps he’s a liability defensively, but Bonner’s shooting generally has value no matter the opponent.

Also worth noting is that Wade has averaged 16.5 points per game in The Finals, but also posted a combined -26 plus/minus rating.

Bottom line:

Neither team seems to fear the other team. Now, holding home court advantage, the Heat have the chance to show us why they deserve a third straight title.

11 Comments

  1. romys says:

    Heat being schooled in game 3

  2. romys says:

    Heat in History, choked and beaten to pulp in NBA History, giving away 41 points in one quarter

  3. Jayden Clark-Tate says:

    Spurs got this just believe in them like I do leTs go spurs

  4. TMac says:

    Heat just really acted like they weren’t taking the Spurs seriously in the first 5 minutes or so…but as things started to progress, the Heat realized the Spurs came to play and win, so the Heat tried to play catch up. Yeah, they almost did it, but when you continue to play poor defense in critically moments, you won’t be able to comeback, regardless of how good the offense is….and Heat played pretty good offense for the most part. Like I have never seen Miami allow so many open looks in one half. And it did not help when the best player for the Heat did not show up in the second half like he should have. Yeah, Lebron’s defense was okay at times, but he just didn’t make an impact like he normally does. It is almost like Lebron’s mindset got smashed after the first half. I hope this is a lesson for the Heat to learn from. You can’t take a team like the Spurs lightly…even if you are on your home court. And can anybody tell me why Spo continues to play Chalmers??? I think he should give somebody else a start until Chalmers decided he will play better. The Heat actually play better with him on the bench.

  5. Kimmylovesthethunder says:

    Dwayne Wade is a big flopper!

  6. Michael Riley says:

    Bosh will have a goodnight tonight in game 3.
    Bosh has no rearview mirrors.
    If he is cold, he doesn’t look back but keeps forward focused and keeps working.
    He will be a strong 3 point shooter tonight!

    I predict Miami by 8 points.
    Go Bosh & Birdman too !

  7. bballjunkie1 says:

    Heat Wish List
    1. Spo, please take Chalmers out if he isn’t contributing offensively,and if other guys are getting fouls because he is ball watching and they are coming over late to make a play on his man.
    2. Dont waste minutes if he continues to dribble up clock, allowing Spurs defense to set.
    3. If Lebron has to play harder then aleast up the ante let him play point, bring in another scorer Allen, Cole, to make Pop make a move earlier.
    4. Bosh/Birdman have to be on the floor together sometimes.
    5. Bring Chalmers off of the bench might be a solution?

    Spur Wish List
    1. If u lose tonite start Genobli next game just to get offense going early, see if Spo has learned to really coach because we know its all about match ups, pushing buttons timely thats the real advantage u have over this Heat team.
    2. U know Spo will stay with something not working/instead of pushing peddle to the metal so if Miami goes up 15 u know u will be let back in so go for it go deep in that bench, give him looks he never saw before 4 a few minutes, keep him guessing cause he has a tendency to panic and just bring in 3 players at one time after u have found success, because he should have made an adjustment earlier in your run.

  8. Celentano says:

    D wade will drop 30 tonite..it will be close game cause tony brothers is one of the official tonites(anti heat)..watch out!!

  9. And of course they are going to take control tonight.

    As said before: HEAT in 6!!

    And pls no flopping guys