Tonight at 9:00 PM in the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, the HEAT host the Spurs for Game Four of the NBA Finals best-of-seven series. After this contest, the two will head to San Antonio for Game Five on Sunday night. If Miami wins either game, the two will return to Miami for Game Six on Tuesday next week.
So far this postseason, the team that owns a series lead going into game four have gone on to win 11-of-14 postseason best-of-seven series. For the record, Miami is two wins and a loss in Game One In getting to this point. They took down the Charlotte Bobcats in four, the Brooklyn Nets in five, and the Indiana Pacers in six. San Antonio got here by earning series' victories over theDallas Mavericks in seven, the Portland Trail Blazers in five, and the Oklahoma City Thunder in six.
Miami and San Antonio split the first two games of the series. Miami hung close throughout but went down in flames, 110-95 when LeBron James was felled by heat cramps midway through the fourth quarter in Game One. Game Two was anybody's matchup, but Miami finished on top by a score of 98-96.
Game Three featured a record-setting field goal percentage in the first half, as the Spurs shot 75.8% on a 25-of-33 performance. They shot 19-for-21 to open the game, including a perfect six-for-six from both Kawhi Leonard and from Danny Green. They eventually cooled off, but still finished the game with a 59.4% shooting success rate. Leonard led all scorers with 29 on 10-of-13 shooting, Tony Parker scored 15 points with four assists, Green had 15 with five steals, and Tim Duncan had 14 with six boards.
Miami wasn’t too bad, all things considered. They managed to hit more than half of their field goal attempts (32-for-62) with 51.6% clip. James and Dwyane Wade each finished with 22 points on a combined 17-for-26 night, a 65.4% success rate. James also pitched in with seven assists, five rebounds, and five steals. Rashard Lewis continued his hot hand of late by draining four-of-five three-point attempts and finishing with 14 points, and Ray Allen had 11.
Spurs coach Greg Popovich acknowledged that the Spurs, as good as they are, were probably out of their minds during the first half:
"I don't think we'll shoot 76 percent in a half ever again. That's crazy."
LeBron spoke about San Antonio's aggression:
"They jumped on us. They were the aggressor. They had us on our heels from the beginning."
A lot has been made about Miami's inability to keep a close game close when James leaves the floor, as became glaringly evident in Game One. Game Three, however, would see King James post a game worst minus-21 rating. Their best and only positive rating came from James Jones at plus-4 in just two minutes. I'm not suggesting that James Jones is better than LeBron James, by the way. For San Antonio, Boris Diaw, Leonard, Parker, Green, Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills all posted plus ratings in double figures.
If you need to know more about Game Three, check out NBA.COM. They have your box score, the recap, and more video, you masochist.
We all know the key to winning without home court advantage is the key to these series. Miami took it from the Spurs in Game Two, but gave it right back in Game Three. If Miami is to come out on top, they need to win all of their home games and one of the two that they'll play on the road (if it goes seven). Game Three was the first time in 12 occasions that Miami lost on their home court during the playoffs.
Game Time: 9:00 PM, on ABC.
Betting Line: HEAT by 5 1/2, O/U 197
January 26th - HEAT 113, Spurs 101
March 6th - Spurs 111, HEAT 87
June 5th - Spurs 110, HEAT 95
June 8th - HEAT 98, Spurs 96
June 10th - Spurs 111, HEAT 92
Probable Starting Lineups
|PG - Mario Chalmers||
|PF - Rashard Lewis||5.6||2.1||0.3||0.4||0.3|
|C - Chris Bosh||15.2||5.6||1.1||0.8||1.1|
|SF- LeBron James||27.2||6.8||4.9||2.1||0.5|
|SG - Dwyane Wade||18.6||4.0||4.0||1.4||0.3|
San Antonio Spurs
|PG - Tony Parker||17.4||2.1||5.1||0.7||0.0|
|PF - Tim Duncan||16.7||9.1||1.9||0.2||1.2|
|C - Tiago Splitter||7.8||6.5||2.0||0.7||0.5|
|SF - Kawhi Leonard||13.6||6.2||1.6||1.7||0.5|
|SG - Danny Green||9.7||3.0||0.9||1.4||0.8|
What 2 Watch 4
Miami needs to win three of the next four in order to avoid the wrath of the national media. That means that not only will they have to win on the road, it also means that they'll need to string together consecutive victories (preferably three, please). As good as the Spurs were in the first half on Tuesday night, there's no way that's a sustainable model of success. With San Antonio returning to earth, I expect the HEAT to take this one in the closing minutes. I also expect that we will see a better performance out of Chalmers and Wade, who both looked less than spectacular through a lot of Game Three.