San Antonio wins series 4-1
|Game 1: Thursday, June 5th|
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|Game 2: Sunday, June 8th|
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|Game 3: Tuesday, June 10th|
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|Game 4: Thursday, June 12th|
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|Game 5: Sunday, June 15th|
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9:00 PM ET, June 12, 2014
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
MIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James has learned an important lesson during his journey from 19-year-old rookie to two-time NBA champion: Never talk back to the coach during a film session.
"Let him make his point, whether he's right or wrong, and you live with it and move on," James said.
Especially when the coach has as much to show his players as Erik Spoelstra did to James and the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Miami's defense didn't offer much resistance early in Game 3 of the NBA Finals; the San Antonio Spurs played like they were on the court by themselves. San Antonio made 19 of its first 21 shots and shot a finals-record 75.8 percent in the first half of a 111-92 victory.
Just like last year, Game 3 was a blowout that left the Heat facing a 2-1 deficit. Miami came back to win the series, so nobody was overreacting to what happened Tuesday, especially since the Spurs themselves don't expect to shoot that way again. But the Heat have things to clean up before Game 4 on Thursday, or they risk going back to San Antonio facing the end of their title reign.
"You're always on edge in the postseason, but I don't want to be concerned at this point," James said. "For us, we have to make the adjustments."
The Spurs had the same lead last year after a 113-77 victory in Game 3, a start-to-finish beating that was even more thorough than Tuesday's win. So they were taking no satisfaction in their position, and certainly not comparing it.
"I don't think about last year at all at this point," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I don't think about last year Game 3, Game 4, at all. This is a different animal and I'm just concerned about the game tomorrow night."
The bigger concerns belong to the Heat, whose defense was also sliced up by the Spurs in the fourth quarter of Game 1. So Spoelstra gathered his team to look at the painful tape of Tuesday's performance, which featured among its problems:
-Chris Bosh getting only four shot attempts after scoring 18 points in Games 1 and 2.
-James trying to do too much to rally the Heat and ending up with seven of their 20 turnovers.
-Mario Chalmers missing all five shots and falling to 3 for 12 in the finals.
"We did not play a good basketball game," Spoelstra said. "All of us have owned that. It doesn't matter ultimately how many you lose by or what the game is like. You have to learn from it, move on."
Spoelstra said watching themselves get clobbered on tape was "painful" and "frustrating," but necessary. He wouldn't reveal what he told his players, but whatever it was, James wouldn't have argued. That's a lesson he said he learned "quite a few years ago, when you realize that it wouldn't change anything."
"You know, the coach is always right," James added. "It's like a teacher. They're always right, and that's fine. That's fair. They make the rules and we've got to live by them."
Spoelstra's process suits the Heat, who have won 13 straight postseason games following a loss. They followed last year's Game 3 no-show with a rout of their own to swing the series back in their favor, and are confident they can make corrections before Thursday.
But the Spurs, who didn't think they played that well in the first two games, have shown that not even the respected Miami defense can stop them when they execute the way they did Tuesday.
"We finally put a game together for not the full 48, but for as long as we could, where we did exactly what we planned to do and executed in that respect," Tim Duncan said, "and that's what we're going to need again."
No team has overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, and a victory Thursday would guarantee the Spurs two chances to win the series on their home floor, starting with Game 5 on Sunday. Dwyane Wade said the Heat aren't thinking that far ahead.
"We're an in-the-moment team," he said. "And right now in the moment is the day after a loss, getting better mentally, physically and then coming into tomorrow and playing the game of basketball here on our home floor and trying to win Game 4. That is all we focus on."
Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney
Team Stat Leaders
The Spurs hold a 2-1 lead in this series - and that has a lot to with 2 historic shooting performances. In Game 1, the Spurs shot 87.5 percent in the 4th quarter (14-16). In Game 3, San Antonio shot 86.7 percent from the field in the first quarter (13-15). Those are the two highest field goal percentages by a team in any quarter of a NBA Finals game in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55).[+]
Spurs in 2014 NBA Finals
The Heat are allowing 107.2 points per 100 possessions this postseason, by far their worst mark in any postseason in the James-Wade-Bosh era.[+]
Pts Allowed Per 100 Possessions - Heat Defense in Playoffs
In 70 minutes of action this series, Mario Chalmers has totaled 10 points and 9 turnovers while shooting 25.0 percent from the floor (3-12). Norris Cole hasn't been any better - he's putting up just 3.3 points per game this series on 26.7 percent shooting (4-15).[+]
Mario Chalmers NBA Finals Career
The Heat aren't pushing the panic button quite yet as they also trailed 2-1 against the Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals before coming back to win the series in 7 games. But Game 4 is virtually a must win for Miami - no team in NBA Finals history has overcome a 3-1 series deficit (31 teams have trailed 3-1).
Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Spurs in Game 3, posting a regular-season and postseason career-high 29 points. He was averaging just 9.0 points per game through the first 2 games of this series.[+]
Kawhi Leonard - 2014 NBA Finals
Coach Gregg Popovich made the bold decision before Game 3 to start Boris Diaw in place of Tiago Splitter...it turned out to be a nice move by Pop. Diaw had a plus-minus of +20, a team-high. He had a plus-minus of +30 in Game 1. Through the first 3 games, Diaw has a total plus-minus of +45, which is the 2nd-highest through Game 3 of the NBA Finals in the last 15 years.[+]
The Heat have gone 48 straight playoff games without consecutive losses, the 3rd-longest streak in NBA history. Miami has won 13 straight games following a loss. The last time the Heat lost back-to-back playoff games was in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals (lost 3 straight vs Celtics).[+]
Most Games Without Consecutive Losses - NBA Playoff History
The Heat have a 2-0 series record when trailing 2-1 in the James-Wade-Bosh era (since 2011 playoffs). Miami fell behind 2-1 against Indiana in the 2012 Conference Semifinals and then proceeded to win the next 3 games to close out the series. The Heat also fell behind 2-1 in the 2013 NBA Finals against the Spurs, but rallied back to win in 7.[+]
Heat When Trailing 2-1 - James-Wade-Bosh Era (Since 2011 Playoffs)
From Elias: The Heat and Spurs have combined to make 64 threes this series, the most in NBA Finals history through 3 games. Fun fact: In the first NBA Finals series that featured the 3-point line back in 1980, the Lakers and 76ers combined to go 1-20 from 3-point range for the series, which lasted 6 games. Julius Erving hit the only 3.[+]
Most Combined 3-Pt FG Made - Through 3 Games of NBA Finals
The Spurs won Games 3 and 4 by a combined 40 points, which would be the largest points differential on the road in NBA Finals history, assuming San Antonio closes out the series in Game 5 at home.[+]
Highest Points Differential on Road - NBA Finals History
FROM ELIAS: The Heat lost consecutive NBA Finals games by combined 40 points. They're the 1st team to lose by combined 40 points in consecutive NBA Finals games since the 1977 76ers against the Trail Blazers. The Spurs are the 1st team to win consecutive road games by combined 40 points in NBA Finals history.
The Heat scored 36 points in the 1st half of Game 4, their fewest in any 1st half of an NBA Finals game in the Big 3 era (since 2010-11).
Kawhi Leonard continues to make LeBron James work on offense. James was guarded by Leonard on 24 of the Heat's plays in the first half but went 0-of-2 from the field against him. James was guarded by all other Spurs on 12 Heat plays, shooting 3-of-5 in those situations (not including transition). James has been pushed far away from the basket on all of his shots tonight.[+]
LeBron James Average FGA Distance, NBA Finals
The Heat finished 4-of-15 in the paint in the first half. The 8 paint points are tied for their second fewest in any half this season. Dwyane Wade alone has gone 1-of-7 in the paint.
From Elias: The Spurs are shooting 54.2 percent through the first four games of the NBA Finals. That's the second highest FG pct by any team through Game 4 of the Finals in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55).[+]
Highest FG Pct Through 1st 4 Games in NBA Finals - Shot-Clock Era (Since 1954-55)
ESPN Stats & Information