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NBA Finals: Spurs Ambush Heat Early, Take 2-1 Series Lead

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Hardly anyone — any rational person — could have expected what the San Antonio Spurs did to the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.

Not the Spurs. “We won’t ever shoot 75 percent in a half again,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.

Not the Heat: “They had us on our heels from the beginning,” Miami’s LeBron James said. “This is something that at this point in the season shouldn’t happen.”

And yet, it did happen — a 41-point first quarter barrage that led to a 25-point lead by halftime and a stunning 111-92 victory that moved the Spurs into a 2-1 series advantage. It also firmly placed the pressure on the Heat to win Game 4 on Thursday in Miami.
It will take a considerably more effective defensive effort and more efficient play on offense to reverse the Game 3 results. Miami watched seemingly helplessly as the Spurs made 12 of their first 14 shots en route to the 41-point first quarter. Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who was ineffective in the first two games, broke out with 29 points. And his defense on James (22 points) was admirable.

Overall, the Spurs executed their offense to near perfection much of the night.

“It was fun to watch, and it was one of those games where it happens once in a while,” said Spurs’ sixth man Manu Ginobili, who finished with 11 points.

Dwyane Wade had 22 points and Rashard Lewis 16, but the rest of the Heat players were nullified. Mario Chalmers did not score. Chris Bosh only had nine points. The team tried to rally and cut the Spurs’ lead to under 10 points late in the third quarter, sparking hope.

But the energy expended to get that close weighed on Miami, and San Antonio continued to function at prime level.

 

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