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|
|Recap »Boxscore »|
9:00 PM ET, June 10, 2014
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
Spurs cruise to 2-1 Finals lead over Heat behind Kawhi Leonard's 29
MIAMI -- Maybe in a video game. Possibly in the pregame layup line.
But shoot this way in the NBA Finals, against the two-time defending champions?
"It's not something you can plan for," San Antonio reserve Manu Ginobili said. "There was no magic plays. We just moved the ball, and every shot went in."
Not quite every shot. But just about.
Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 29 points, and the Spurs made a Finals-record 75.8 percent of their shots in the first half in a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead.
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The Spurs' beautiful offensive explosion rendered the best player in the world irrelevant in Game 3, Ethan Sherwood Strauss writes. Story
The Spurs made 19 of their first 21 shots and finished 25-for-33 in the first half, bettering the 75 percent shooting by Orlando against the Lakers in the 2009 Finals.
"It's a hit-or-miss league," Miami's Dwyane Wade said.
The Spurs didn't do much missing.
"I don't think we'll ever shoot 76 percent in a half ever again," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs led by as much as 25 and were only briefly challenged in their second lopsided victory in the series.
LeBron James and Wade each had 22 points for the Heat, who host Game 4 on Thursday.
Returning to the arena where they were oh-so-close to winning a fifth championship last year, the Spurs came out playing like they were trying to build a lead that was impossible to blow.
They shot 13-for-15 and led 41-25 after the first quarter, then hit their first six shots of the second in front of a stunned crowd in Miami to go ahead 55-30.
Leonard scored only 18 points in the first two games, looking frustrated while getting into foul trouble trying to defend James in Game 2. But he had his outside shot working early, making his first six shots and finishing 10-for-13 from the field.
"I just found a rhythm, and my teammates found me the ball. I made shots," Leonard said.
The past three NBA seasons ended in this building, the past two followed by Heat championship parades.
Kawhi's Career Night
Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs made his presence felt in Game 3, becoming the first player to set a career-high for points in a Finals victory since Magic Johnson and Jamaal Wilkes in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals:
|Games 1 & 2||Game 3|
|>>Career high (reg. season or playoffs)|
The Spurs nearly canceled the last one, building a five-point lead in the final half-minute of regulation of Game 6, a title seeming so certain that workers were already making preparations around the court.
But the Heat rallied to win in overtime and took Game 7, leaving the Spurs with a summer to think about the one that got away.
They're in good shape to get another chance.
With the league scrapping the 2-3-2 format for the NBA Finals -- in which the lower seed played three consecutive home games -- the Spurs will have a chance to wrap it up in San Antonio on Sunday in Game 5 if they can win Thursday.
Chris Bosh took only four shots and scored nine points for the Heat, who for the second straight year will have to overcome a 2-1 Finals deficit after being blown out in Game 3.
This rout came on their home floor, where they had been 8-0 this postseason and had won a franchise-record 11 in a row since the Spurs beat them in Game 1 last year.
San Antonio inserted Boris Diaw into the lineup, countering Miami's small lineup and creating more ball movement that clearly helped Leonard. The game got off to a crisp start, with the Spurs making their first five shots and Miami opening 4-for-4.
Turned out the Spurs were just getting started.
Mike and Mike
ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen offers his insight on the Spurs' defense in Game 3 of the Finals, Mario Chalmers' performance in the game and the criticism of Kawhi Leonard.
Coach Erik Spoelstra planned to communicate with James to make sure there were no lingering problems from the cramps that forced him to miss the final minutes of the opener. But there was no way he could rest James early, since he was the only one keeping the Heat in the game. He had 14 of their first 20 points, but even James couldn't keep up with the Spurs' pace.
The Spurs "came out at a different gear than what we were playing at, and it just seemed we were on our heels the most part of the first half," Spoelstra said.
San Antonio led 71-50 at halftime. It was the first 70-point first half in the Finals since the Lakers scored 75 against Boston in Game 2 in 1987.
That was as close as Miami would get, as the Spurs pulled away in the fourth.
Wade appeared in his 150th postseason game and passed Dirk Nowitzki (3,455 points) for 17th on the postseason scoring list. ... The Heat fell to 68-20 in the postseason at American Airlines Arena. Their .782 winning percentage entering the game trailed only the Lakers' .792 mark at Staples Center.
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 10: An image of a 2014 NBA Finals basketball before Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals between the...(Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: Those asking for more out of Kawhi Leonard had their wishes answered in Game 3. Leonard was everywhere and dominated both ends of the court. His career-high 29 points will get the lion's share of the attention, but don't overlook his phenomenal defense on LeBron James specifically and the Heat in general.
X factor: Though the Spurs weren't yet desperate, coach Gregg Popovich made the bold decision before Game 3 to start Boris Diaw in place of Tiago Splitter. The added space made all the difference for San Antonio and was a big part of the Spurs' incredible first quarter.
That was ... out of reach. The Heat did everything they could to chip away at San Antonio's lead, closing to within seven points in the third quarter. Yet even when Miami made this a game, it felt as if the Spurs would eventually crush the resistance. In the end, they did just that.
LeBron James' seven turnovers are his most in an NBA Finals game. His teams are now 2-7 in the NBA Finals when he has at least five turnovers (2-3 with Heat).
Gregg Popovich's philosophy is to close out quarters and more specifically end of halves. In Game 2, the Spurs shot 32.5% in the 2nd AND 4th quarter combined. That was their worst shooting percentage of this postseason. To put this in perspective, in the Popovich Era (since 1996-97) the Spurs have led the NBA in combined 2nd AND 4th quarter shooting percentage with 46.2% (min 100 games played as a team). The NBA average during that span is 44.6%.
The Spurs are 15-3 in best-of-7 series when leading 2-1 in the Gregg Popovich era.
In the last 30 seasons, Mario Chalmers is the only starter to play 50 minutes or more, score a total of 10 points or fewer and shoot 25% or less from the field in the NBA Finals.
Rashard Lewis is averaging 13.8 points over his last 4 games after putting up just 1.9 PPG over his first 11 appearances this postseason. Lewis totaled 14 points on 5-9 shooting in Game 2, his 4th straight double-digit scoring game. It's his longest streak since in the regular season OR postseason since January, 2011 (4 straight).[+]
Rashard Lewis This Postseason
Tim Duncan is averaging 19.5 points and 12.5 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field through the first 2 games of this series. He's putting up 20.0 points and 13.3 rebounds over his last 4 games, a nice increase over his averages through the first 16 games of this postseason.[+]
Tim Duncan This Postseason
Chris Bosh is averaging 18.0 points on 59.1 percent shooting this series and has connected on 4-of-6 shots from downtown - including a clutch 3-pointer with 1:17 remaining in Game 2 to put the Heat up for good, 95-93. Bosh surprisingly leads the Heat in 3-point makes this postseason with 29.[+]
The Spurs end the half up by 21 points (71-50). In the Popovich era, the Spurs are 46-0 in the postseason when they are up by more than 20 points at half time.
Ray Allen has scored 25 points in 2 games off the bench this series. All other Heat bench players have combined to score just 7 total points in 103 minutes. For the series, Miami is being outscored 71-32 in bench points.[+]
Heat Bench - 2014 NBA Finals
The best could still be yet to come from LeBron James... just like this year, the Heat were down 2 games to 1 a year ago in the Finals. Look at what James did in Games 4 through 7 of that series, putting up nearly 32 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals per game.[+]
James in 2013 NBA Finals Games 4-7
LeBron James is averaging 30.0 points and 8.0 rebounds this series. But keep an eye out on how the Heat have been playing with him off the court. In the 26 minutes James has sat this series, the Heat have been outscored by 24 points. In the 70 minutes LeBron has been on the court, Miami is outscoring San Antonio by 11 points.[+]
Heat With LeBron James On/Off Court - 2014 NBA Finals
The Heat shot 32-62 from the field, good for 51.6%. Entering the night, Miami was 146-14 in the Big 3 Era (since 2010-11) when shooting 50% or better in ANY game (reg/playoff), including 85-7 at home.
With Kawhi Leonard handling the unenviable task of defending LeBron James, he fouled out for the first time (regular season or postseason) in 243 career games. And he's scored 9 points apiece in each of the first 2 games of the NBA Finals. He was only held to single-digit scoring in 3 out of 18 playoff games previously this postseason.
A little over a third of Bosh's shots have come from 3-point range this postseason (67-200). Back in the 2011 playoffs (his first postseason in Miami), Bosh attempted 291 shots - and only 4 were of the 3-point variety.[+]
Chris Bosh Pct of Shots from 3-pt Range - Heat Playoff Career
The Heat have won a franchise-record 11 straight home playoff games dating back to Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals. Miami is 8-0 at home this postseason with an average margin of victory of 12.4 points per game. The Spurs are just 3-5 on the road this postseason, but their last road game was a series-clinching win at Oklahoma City in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.[+]
Heat This Postseason
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