Game Two was the kind of game good teams have nightmares about. The defense and principals of a team break down and it leads to an onslaught of highlights and talk that makes a player and a team doubt itself. Especially when the stakes are so high. The only thing a team can do to fight all this off is to respond the next time out.
San Antonio HAD to respond the next time out and prove the Heat were not this juggernaut the media sometimes make them out to be and would get the simple waltz to a second straight title. This was still their series and they still had home-court advantage.
Now it is Miami's turn to have nightmares and scratch their heads a bit more. What San Antonio did to Miami in Game Three was much more clinical and much more devastating it seemed than Game Two. Questions abound now heading into Game Four.
The Spurs made an NBA Finals record 16 3-pointers (on 32 attempts!) and gave no mercy or end to the shooting onslaught as the Heat struggled even to get into the basics of their offense. A 113-77 win for San Antonio resulted to the delight of a raucous AT&T Center.
Erik Spoelstra said it best after the game. He, nor anyone who watched, could recognize this Heat team.
This was a Heat team where LeBron James seemed content to hoist long twos and struggled even to get into the paint to make others. James socred only 15 points on 7-for-21 shooting. He failed to get to the free throw line as Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green combined to keep James to the perimeter. That little jumper of his was not falling and it took him completely out of the game.
Dwyane Wade's early scoring stopped when James was no longer driving. Wade does not seem capable of scoring the ball at will like he did in 2006 or even in 2011 at times. James was not there to carry the load this time.
Give credit to San Antonio though. The Spurs defense made adjustments and kept Mario Chalmers from going off while still keeping James to the perimeter. Chalmers was 0 for 5.
Still, this was a tie game with 38 seconds left in the first half. Mike Miller was draining 3-pointers hitting all five. Miami hit four of seven 3-pointers in the first half, but just 4 of 11 in the second half.
The Spurs ended the first half on a 6-0 run though thanks to Gary Neal draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer. He and Danny Green combined to score 51 points and shoot 13 for 19 from beyond the arc. It seemed like they could do everything by themselves. Really it was great dribble penetration and ball movement that got them open shots. They simply had to make the shots.
The Heat were really not themselves, they gave up the open shots.
San Antonio, in all, hit 9 of 17 3-pointers in the second half, including six of nine in the fourth quarter. The Spurs put together runs of 7-0, 11-0, 13-0 and 11-0 in building as much as a 37-point lead. Despite how close this game was, the Heat never led.
This was San Antonio's moment. The Spurs had found a way to respond to every run in this series except for that long one in Game Two. This was San Antonio's time to make Miami sweat and question itself.
Bot the Spurs and the Heat have had this moment in the Finals. Now it is time for Miami to figure out how to respond.