Jun 10, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Alain Duque (left) and Emilio Torres (right) of Metro Wrapz/Metro Signs Inc. apply the logo decal to the court prior to game three between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Heat fans believe the air conditioning is the only reason for not having a 2-0 lead, and the Spurs can attribute a lost opportunity for a 2-0 advantage to missed free throws, and, well, LeBron James.
Here are three keys that the Spurs must accomplish to take Game 3 in Miami.
Will The Spurs Be The 2013-2014 NBA Champions?
***All stats from NBA.com
1. Keep Manu Ginobili on the court
Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forwardTim Duncan
(21), guardTony Parker
(9) and guard Manu Ginobili (20) talk during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Heat won 98-96. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Limited by foul trouble in Game 2, Manu didn’t really have the impact that we are accustomed to seeing from him throughout these 2014 NBA playoffs.
He finished with 19 points on seven-of-15 shooting, four assists and three turnovers. Hs first half wasn’t very good; but he did have some good moments in the second—the Spurs were +54 with Ginobili on the court in second half of both Game 1 and Game 2 combined.
Revising that Ginobili comment: “We know they are not UNBEATABLE. They are a great team. But we’ve (won in Miami before) before.”
— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneysaen) June 10, 2014
Simply put, if Ginobili isn’t play well, the Spurs aren’t playing well. But Manu can’t play the whole game, and that is where Marco Belinelli comes in; but Belinelli needs to start hitting shots, or else he will stay on the bench. His confidence is at a season low, and he is really hurting the San Antonio offense that we are used to seeing flourish, even when the bench is playing.
2. Kawhi Leonard needs to find his offensive game
Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives against Miami Heat guardRay Allen
(34) in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Throughout these first two games of the Finals, Leonard hasn’t been able to get into any rhythm to his offensive game.
Additionally, ‘Sugar K’ was playing in foul trouble all game (until finally fouling out in the fourth quarter), so he could not be as aggressive on defense.
This lack of aggressiveness results in less steals, and thus less fast break dunks. Usually, the fast break dunks trigger Leonard’s offensive game with some easy looks. Once he finds a groove, the rest of the offense will fall into place.
3. Contain LeBron James
Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) answers questions during a press conference after the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Heat beat the Spurs 98-96. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
The Spurs may not be able to do anything about the glasses he wears in the press conferences, but they can certainly do a better job on LeBron James.
Although San Antonio did a great job defending him in the first quarter, James killed them throughout the rest of the game. Obviously, he is the cog that makes the Miami Heat go. Without LeBron, the Heat wouldn’t even be in the NBA Finals.
LeBron James is averaging 30 ppg and 8 rpg on 59 percent shooting. LeBron criticism is bound to make you look bad. — HoopsHype (@hoopshype) June 9, 2014
Once LeBon starts hitting his outside jumpers, like he did in parts of Game 2, the series is over.
When he drives, the defense will collapse on him, and LeBron can either finish himself or pass to a wide open three-point shooter. This is the biggest thing for San Antonio: force LeBron to take outside jump shots with added pressure—and pray he misses.
Because once he gets going, it’s impossible to stop him.
2014 NBA Finals Game 3: 9 PM ET