In what will be remembered as the greatest shooting half in NBA Finals history where the Spurs shot an unbelievable 75.8 percent from the field, the Spurs were still in danger of blowing a lead that at one point ballooned to 25 points.
Nonetheless, the Spurs got a huge bounce back victory at the American Airlines Arena and will look to build off their success in Game 4.
The first quarter was an absolute doozy to watch.
San Antonio sprinted out of the gates fast, led by Kawhi Leonard. After being a no-show in Games 1 and 2, Kawhi looked to make his imprint on the game early and often. By the end of the first quarter, he had 16 of the Spurs 41 points (he finished the night with a career-high 29 points).
It was refreshing to see the aggressive Kawhi Leonard that Spurs fans have grown accustomed to watching, especially when his play exceeded LeBron James‘ throughout the game.
If it wasn’t for LeBron in the first quarter, the Heat would have been buried from the start.
The Spurs did an excellent job of making Miami pay for running the Spurs off the three-point line by attacking the rim. At the end of the first quarter, this is what San Antonio’s shot chart looked like:
The Spurs had a REALLY hot shooting 1st quarter. Take a look– pic.twitter.com/0EhDriWRJl
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 11, 2014
At one point in the second quarter, the Spurs were shooting 19-of-21 from the field, with almost all of that damage coming without Tony Parker making any distinguishable impact.
With 8:09 left in the second quarter, the Spurs led 55-30 in what would be their largest lead of the game.
Of course, being the NBA defending champions, the Heat managed to chip away at the Spurs lead and get it down to 14 points with a few minutes left in the second Q; but San Antonio did an excellent job of weathering the storm and building up the lead to 21 points going into the break.
Here’s a look at the historic shooting performance from San Antonio in the first half:
The Heat managed to make their run in the second half; and with 1:59 left in the third quarter, they were somehow only down 81-74.
You knew that San Antonio would eventually come back down to earth after their amazing first half performance, which was evidenced by their 15-point third quarter, but the Spurs were on the brink of blowing the game after their historic first half.
Right after the lead had been whittled down to seven points, Marco Belinelli scored his only points of the game: a huge three pointer that temporarily stopped the bleeding for the Spurs. At the end of three the Spurs led 86-75.
Belinelli hit a big 3-pointer when the Heat cut the lead to seven points. Then that was it. But that shot stopped the wave of momentum.
— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) June 11, 2014
Danny Green started off the fourth quarter with a nice and-one left-handed layup over LeBron James that set the tone for the rest of the quarter.
Even though the lead would get cut down to 10 a few possessions later, the Spurs, like any good team should, held off the rallying Heat and were finally able to give their starters a rest with 1:36 left in the fourth.
The Spurs now will look to seize hold of this series by stealing another win in Miami on Thursday.
It was obvious from the outset of the game that San Antonio was the more desperate team.
Come Game 4, the Spurs know that the Heat will be the desperate team and will give them their best punch in an effort not to fall into an unfavorable 3-1 hole going back to San Antonio.
Here’s a few more quick thoughts from Game 3.