Right & Wrong: Spurs strike back


VIDEO: Relive the best moments from Game 3 of the NBA Finals

MIAMI — When you consider that the San Antonio Spurs literally didn’t miss many shots through the first two quarters of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, perhaps it’s not surprising that they came away with a 111-92 win. But in some ways, that nearly 20-point margin is a bit deceiving — during the third quarter the Heat clawed back into the game, and with 1:59 remaining in the third, the Heat were down just 7 points.

But on this night, the Spurs just had too much. Of everything. Particularly of note, they got a star-making performance from Kawhi Leonard, the kind of breakout, big stage game that Spurs fans suspected lurked inside the quiet third-year pro.

Meanwhile, the Heat withstood San Antonio’s flurry of body blows and knockout punches and mounted that second half return, but they just seemed to run out of gas down the stretch.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong in Game 3:

Right: Leonard was simply brilliant, on both ends. Offensively, he started quickly, with 10 of San Antonio’s first 18 points. Defensively, he hounded LeBron James all night, and even though the Heat iso’d James repeatedly, Leonard managed to stay out of foul trouble and seemed to relish the challenge of facing James. Coming off of a Game 2 performance where Leonard fouled out and finished with just 9 points, it was exactly the sort of game the Spurs needed from Leonard. “That’s how he’s played all year long,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s got to be one of our better players on the court or we’re not good enough. That’s just the way it is.” Some things will never change.

Wrong: With Leonard getting after him and the Spurs defense keying on his every move, James finished with 22 points and 5 rebounds, a fine performance for most players but a noticeable drop-off from the 35/10 he posted in Game 2. James also set a Finals record with 7 turnovers, including 5 in the second half. As James surmised after the game, with a rueful smile, “It’s not surprising that I have a Finals record for something I don’t want to have, you know, so there we go. It’s a new storyline for LeBron.”

Right: In Game 2, no Spurs player other than Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili managed to break double digits in the scoring column. In Game 3, not only did Leonard go off for 29 points, but Danny Green found his stroke to the tune of 15 points with 5 steals to go with that. The Spurs know they’ll get steady production from their big three, but they also need to rely on their complementary players to be able to win this Finals.

Wrong: Simply put, the point guard play from the Heat in Game 3 was a disaster. Starter Mario Chalmers finished with 2 points (and no field goals), 4 assists, 3 turnovers and 4 fouls in 22 minutes. His backup, Norris Cole, was only marginally better, going 3-for-9 from the floor. While they aren’t often asked to perform as traditional point guards — James spent most of Game 3 initiating the Heat’s offense — defensively neither Cole nor Chalmers made much of an impact, either. “One thing you can’t control in the game of basketball if a shot goes in or not, but you can control how you defend,” James said. “You can control how much energy you bring to the game, how much effort you bring to the game. If our two point guards do that, we can be okay with that. I know our two point guards, they’re very passionate. They’ve got a lot of pride. And I know they’re looking forward to learning from what they did tonight, and trying to be much better in Game 4.”

Right: Popovich juggled San Antonio’s starting lineup, sitting Tiago Splitter and moving Boris Diaw into the five spot. While Diaw doesn’t provide the same traditional interior presence as Splitter, he makes the Spurs a much more fluid offensive team. He finished Game 3 with 9 points, 5 boards and 3 assists. “Boris has been great all playoffs, in the entire playoffs,” Duncan said. “His ability to attack off the dribble, his passing ability. When they collapsed, he made some great passes, made some great plays, and his ability to finish at the basket as well. So just gave us another attack guy out there. Tiago’s been playing great. He’s finishing at the basket and making plays. But to have someone like Boris who can stretch your floor and make plays like a point guard in there and make decisions and punish them for their rotation, it was big for us.”

Wrong: Considering they were playing their first home game of the 2014 Finals, with a chance to sustain the home court advantage they stole with their Game 2 win, the Heat came out curiously flat. You can’t completely fault them defensively — yes the Spurs got a lot of open looks, but still, shooting 76 percent in the first half is unprecedented. Still, Miami never seemed to equal or overshadow San Antonio’s energy or effort until the second half, and by then they reached a point where they just couldn’t sustain the energy needed to complete the comeback. “What it feels like is The Finals, and you have to deal with all the emotions that happen in The Finals, frustration, anger, pain, elation, all of it, and it can swing back and forth,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. “It’s a long series. We have to be able to manage this, and it starts with tomorrow owning it. That will be the process that we all have to go through together, not individually. We have to go through that together and somehow collectively come out with a much better response on Thursday.”

35 Comments

  1. Norm says:

    I don’t care how they do it, I just want the Spurs hoisting the trophy at the end. The Spurs play the team game that is a pleasure for me to watch

  2. Max says:

    Want to know the REAL TRUTH? Heat never totally in game. Seemed confused & played behind. NOT like the true Heat! POP changed up Spurs Offense & Heat just DID NOT figure that out & time just ran OUT! Leonard shot so many uncontested 3 pntrs! WHY? 5 playing 5? HEAT had not communication to control the Spurs Offense fast switch & Stops!! WADE for one has to step up to the plate!!!

    • Mike says:

      Time ran out? Really? If the time didn’t run out and the game was still being played, the Spurs would be leading by about 750 points by now.

  3. marlon green says:

    Lets stop blamming the refs Heat fans because your hero the king gets all the favorable calls. He clearly hacked Duncan when he was helpless in the paint. And that call they gave wade when he stepped through and away from 2 defenders? Please.. The Heat just got hit wih a haymaker in the first quarter and never recovered. And Lebron doesn’t use iso’s, he is not good enough for iso’s. He always needs someone to set a screen for him. Kobe, KD, Westbrook and even Wade can get their own shot off any defender without the aide of a teammate from screens. That’s why I dont understand why people call him the best player on the planet. The best players to me can do it all and straight up beat up one on one or man to man however you want to call it.

  4. ricz says:

    “during the third quarter the Heat clawed back into the game”
    The heat committed ONE TEAM foul and that only happens in less than a minute of the third quarter

    :okay.jpg:

  5. Shiv says:

    as great as Spurs played last night, they cant count on the kind of first half shooting they had last night. in the second half, they didn’t move the ball real well, until late in the 4th quarter. They really need to move the ball and play spurs ball for 48 minutes. Miami is hero bal. If spurs play team ball for 48 minutes, they will win the title.

    Parker is clearly not his usual self. He is a great player. But, He is holding the ball too long and getting trapped behind the 3 point line, particularly yesterday in the 2nd half. That’s when Miami was able to get their defense set in. He needs to get rid of the ball quickly. PoP really needs to play Mills and Green more. His substitution patterns don’t make much sense. When Green is in good rhythm and even mills is in good rhythm, he takes them out and puts parker or other starters back in. Let them play more unless the match ups are wrong. Pop really needs to play parker with limited minutes. Parker shot 35%.

    • Mike says:

      Did you watch the game? The ball movement was incredible in the first half. You don’t shoot 75% without very good ball movement.

  6. Refs Control Game says:

    Only time Miami came close is when the refs started calling ticky tacky fouls against the Spurs in the 3rd but let the Heat Maul the Spurs on the other end. Refs can’t save the Heat all the time though, would be too obvious then.

  7. Cesar says:

    Right or Wrong…
    NBA Referees are obviously straggle, fails to keep up at face behind the ever fast changing “Deceptive” guarding techniques of NBA players, as the Refs are having a hard time to decide whether a tight “body to body” check on offensive player is tolerable on the offensive side yet intolerable on the defensive side?

  8. Scott C says:

    Lebron is the best player in the league these days, Spurs are the best team in the league, Pop is without question the best coach in the league….so, we have 1 player against 13 and a coach…doesn’t look good for Miami fans

  9. dowanany says:

    Spurs all the way.

  10. StopPop says:

    I’m so sick of that foul-mood, sour jerk of a coach Popvich – that annoying weasel who sulks when he loses like the brat baby he is, should be thrown out of the NAB for his lousy attitude. The only reason Spur-pigs won is their shots went in.
    If LeBron hadn’t gotten cramps, they’d be down 3-0 – they and you Heat haters are all garbage – you maggots!!!!!!!!

    • 37yrfan says:

      ….grow up you sophomoric apologist!!! Talk about Sour…..sour grapes is what your comments are…………….. You are really gonna go to the “IF” routine??? lmao…..

    • cHEATers says:

      The only reason Spur-pigs won is their shots went in. – Idiot comments. Does this man know how to play basketball? The main goal is to shoot the ball to win. Heat fans always went to “IF” routine every time they lost. Poor fans/bandwagons, just like your idol LBJ.

    • Kalbo!! says:

      hahahahaha! i just love to see those bitter, jealous, star-struck and heat-blinded fans cry and rage out.. ROFL…

      • Kalbo!! says:

        and to add for “StopPap,” You think you and your comment is not garbage? You’re comment actually sounded the most rubbish thing in the NBA i ever seen my entire life.. That reflects of course the commenter.. Go kill your self if you can’t take the site of your self-proclaimed-best-team heat is being spanked by the misjudged-old-boring Spurs for all your disappointment.

  11. what? says:

    how is it that some keep insisting that the spurs are boring? look at miami’s play, it’s all lebron isos. even the fans who say the heat is exciting admit not having lebron on the floor “affects” them — greatly, i might add. for them to win they need lebron like wade never existed. one play is lebron and almost all will be lebron — yeah, pretty exciting to have a game with four guys watching one play

  12. Carlos alvarado says:

    the spurs wont win if defense is played (i just hope they were only conserving)

  13. Ronnie Heath says:

    Pop claims Spurs will never shoot that well again (first half) but what can be repeated is the way they moved the ball and the types of shots they created. Any game that Spurs commit less that 15 turnovers will be a game they beat the heat. James and Wade are the 2 best players in serious and the Heat have other weapons but the simple fact is the Spurs can collectively create better % shots. Is the key match up the one between the 2 coaches?

    Ronnie, Somerset UK

  14. bballjunkie1 says:

    Pop is putting on a coaching clinic and it is masterful. Starting Diaw and of course no response from Spo until 16, 29 down is typical. Miami could never get into a offensive rythem which allowed Spurs to not have to play hard defense which gave them energy on offense tons of it. Wonderful to see !! Chalmers still in, slow footed Jones before Cole, Shane really? Reminded me of Carlise inserting Bera in starting line up and Spo never countered. Coaching is everything keep it coming Pop. Bron if u are listening get away from Spo u gave them 4 stabs at it.

  15. Kimmy says:

    The Heat are playing like it’s game 1.

  16. michelle juliet says:

    just my two pennies sometimes you just have to take your hat off and say good game to the other team, and thats exactly what needed to happen. the heat came to play, the heat played great defense and offensive, the spurs shots just were falling last night. i hate to hear excuses and saying that you THE NBA championship team on a mission for a 3 peat just decided hey lets not give it our all tonight! yeah right i call horse tickets on all of it. what it is, simply is that y’all got beat by the ball play spurs ball movement. but everyone including the fans, media and heat just can’t say hey it was a great game for the spurs. never have i seen pure credit given to the spurs and thats a bit annoying and blind sighted.

    go spurs go

    • TMac says:

      You really think the Heat played great defense?? Yeah, the defense picked up in the second half, but it was by no means great. They can do so much better than what they did last night on defense.

  17. PistonsFan93 says:

    I agree. The Heat just laid down and let the Spurs clobber them. Seriously, I think this year San Antonio will win it. The Heat might have a chance the next game IF they play with urgency. They had a chance last night to at least gain some momentum in the series, at home, with the advantage, but no. They just fell flat. It’s like sometimes they only play really good when it counts. But hey, unlike last year, they don’t have home court advantage. So if they lose the next one, the spurs will win the championship.

  18. El Stone says:

    Wrong:

    Apparently LeBron knows his “two point guards” but doesn’t know their names.

    Right:

    The Spurs aggressiveness. I expect LeBron, Wade and Bosh to be in attack mode next game, so the Spurs better be ready.

    • 37yrfan says:

      Don’t worry they will be ready It is really easy to stop teams that mainly relies on isos…… their point guards are hardly part of the game plan…..and they don’t move the ball well

  19. MR210 says:

    Spo has to light a fire under is team – seems only LBJ and Wade have been consistent…

    Where was Chris Bosh…where was Heat’s point guard play…

    Spo has the best player…but doesn’t have as many weapons as the Spurs.

    In the end, Spurs will win this time.

    • 37yrfan says:

      doesn’t the “Best Player” have to ‘bring it’ EVERY game…..apparently not…….

  20. 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.

    • Mitra says:

      That’s the point I have tried to make over the last couple of years.

      Too much dependence on LBJ with little help from others especially against a dangerous team like Spurs is virtually non-starter.

      I was amazed by their fire-power, my goodness!! It is really their system and various pieces in it that played havoc.

      Heat would have to do a lot of soul-searching if they want to stay relevant in the series.

      Otherwise, it is Spurs 4-2.

      Mitra