Momentum swings and shifts in the NBA finals as the San Antonio Spurs, backed by a close to perfect shooting performance and led by Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard take a 2-1 lead over the Miami Heat with a 111-92 win, probably surprised by how bad LeBron James and Dwayne Wade were during in game 3.
Two players who were heavily criticized for their performances in the first couple of games simply answered every critic with a splendid two-way performance that pushed the Spurs forward, hitting 19 of their first 21 field goal attempts which gave them a 25 points lead (55-30) in the middle of the second quarter in front of stunned American Airlines Arena. Everything open – they made, while both Green and Leonard kept pestering Heat passing lanes with their long arms, leading the Spurs to score 23 points off the Heat’s turnovers.
Leonard scored 29 points and became just the fifth player in NBA history to reach that mark before his 23rd birthday in the NBA finals. He was 10-of-13 from the field, avoided foul trouble and did a very good job on LeBron James, who didn’t make it easy on himself through a frustrating game for both himself and Dwyane Wade. The two combined to score 44 points while turning the ball over 12 times.
Leonard and Green? They scored 44 points as well, but the duo shot 17-of-21 from the field and Green was extremely surprising in his ability to score while attacking the rim, as if to shut everyone up who said he can’t score without being wide open on the perimeter (us included, although I’m pretty sure he has never read us). The Spurs hardly made mistakes except for that stretch in the third quarter when the Heat finally got their defense going, narrowing the lead to only seven points before falling apart late in the game.
Tim Duncan had a good game, but nothing great. The same goes for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The trio combined to score only 40 points, which usually doesn’t mean a great game from the Spurs. But there were so many moving pieces that completed the job – from Patty Mills with some big plays down the stretch and Boris Diaw, the mismatch nightmare, starting in the lineup and having the best +/- of the team, adding 9 points and 5 rebounds.
The Miami Heat are in trouble because Mario Chalmers, still very confident in his abilities, isn’t functioning. He was 0-for-5 from the field to finish with just two points, and turned the ball over three times. Norris Cole is doing a better job, but he sometimes hurts the Heat defensively as they attempt to use bigger perimeter lineups. The Spurs managed to disrupt the Heat’s switches on defense with perfect screens, and we saw very little of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade guarding Tony Parker or Patty Mills.
On defense, the Spurs switched on everything, but left very little room for Chris Bosh to get into some sort of rhythm. Bosh took only four shots for some reason, not being aggressive enough when he actually had the ball. He scored nine points and didn’t miss a shot, but the Heat’s ball movement was slow, too many times held up by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who slowed down the pace instead of picking it up when they needed to.
Rashard Lewis was good as always with 14 points but once again, the Heat’s offense didn’t create shooting opportunities for its marksmen. Their offense did the work until very late in the game, but when the Spurs score 71 points in one half, it takes a lot more than a good effort to beat them. Home court advantage has once again gone to the Spurs, proving just how strong they are mentally and fundamentally to give such a flawless performance with so much pressure on them going in.