The San Antonio Spurs came to play, and the Miami Heat clearly could not match their energy in Game 3. The Spurs became the first team to win in Miami in 2014 NBA Playoffs, and now have a 2-1 series lead and recovered home court advantage from the Heat. It was a 111-92 victory for the Spurs.
The first quarter, I mean first half was a clinic by the Spurs. They just couldn't miss. Their Game 1 fourth quarter was the highest FG% for a quarter in NBA history. The second? The first quarter in this Game 3. The Spurs shot 11-13 from the field and 4-4 from 3PT. They scored 41 points on Miami and ended with 71 for the half. At one point, the Spurs were shooting 90% in the first half, and up by 25. They ended shooting 76% for the half and were up 71-50, good for another NBA Finals record, on the Heat, who were shooting 56%.
The third quarter belonged to the Heat, who quickly tried to cut the Spurs lead and they did. It took them a good 12 minutes of hard work, hustle, and frantic defense to do it. They got to the FT line 11 times. They outscored the Spurs 25-15 in the quarter to trail by 11 going into the final frame.
The closest the Heat got was 7 points, but the fourth quarter didn't sustain the same energy. Turnovers, missed opportunities, and poor point guard play plagued the Heat. And the Spurs kept playing their game and attacking. The Heat simply didn't have enough energy to trim the lead anymore. Lazy rotations, and fouling early and often kept the Heat from ever having a shot to get closer. The fourth quarter was Miami's worst offensive quarter.
Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole both really hurt the Heat's offense in this one. The ball got stuck with them, they combined for 5 turnovers as well. LeBron attacked the basket less, it seemed like. Wade played better offensively, but he struggled turning the ball over as well. The Heat had 20 turnovers for the game.
The Spurs got contributions from every single person who stepped on the floor for them. The Heat were led by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on offense with 22 points each. Chris Bosh seemed to disappear after a good Game 2. Leonard led the Spurs with a career high 29 points, including 16 in the pivotal first quarter.
The Spurs shot 59% for the game.
Erik Spoelstra had to change up his substitution pattern a bit to accommodate for the effort and energy it took to battle the Spurs in Game 3. LeBron, Wade and Bosh's typical sub times were all altered to keep them fresher. There minutes were reduced, but the rest came sooner rather than later.
In the end, you have to tip your hat to the Spurs for their excellent shooting. Even if Miami played better, the Spurs were just that well oiled machine that was hitting everything, and that was too much of an order for the Heat to recover from in the one.
The Heat host the Spurs for Game 4 on Thursday night, 9:00 PM EST on ABC.