The Miami Heat crushed the San Antonio Spurs in the second half to even the series at 1-1 in a must-win game for the defending champs.
It wasn't easy at first as the first half played out much like Game 1 did, with the Heat as a whole playing well but continuing to allow the Spurs to stay in the game through timely shots and energy plays. While Tim Duncan and Tony Parker struggled with their shot and Manu Ginobili was shaky with his ball handing, the Spurs kept hanging around not just with their stingy defense but also thanks to a red hot shooting performance from Danny Green, who literally could not miss from long range with five daggers.
LeBron James was not his usual self with a puzzling first half, going through much of the game with just one rebound and forcing matters when his shot wasn't falling. Thankfully, the much-criticized tandem of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade stabilized matters in that first half not just with their scoring but with their hard work on both ends of the floor. Even more promising for the team was that Ray Allen is officially free from his extended shooting slump with 13 points off the bench while Mike Miller (3-3 from long range) and Mario Chalmers (who lead the team with 19 points with zero turnovers in 35 minutes) again stepped up big time in a Finals game.
The real star of the second half was the Heat's team defense, completely blanketing the Spurs players at just about every section of the floor that, coupled with some hot shooting, led to the already legendary 33-5 run that quickly and ruthlessly turned what was sure to be a nail-biter down the stretch into garbage time for players like Tracy McGrady, Rashard Lewis and Shane Battier to practice their shooting. At every turn and at every angle, there was what seemed like two or three Heat defenders pestering the Spurs and forcing turnovers.
Throughout Game 1 and the first half of Game 2, the Heat couldn't pull away and enjoy a substantial lead over the Spurs but this game quickly got out of hand once LeBron returned to his aggressive self and started attacking the basket and rightfully outplaying Kawhi Leonard. His monster block on Tiago Splitter was simply awe inspiring, arguably more impressive than Roy Hibbert's block on Carmelo Anthony. With each defensive stop, the Heat pushed the pace and ended up outscoring the Spurs 13-3 on fast break points and continued to maintain a 50% FG shooting pace.
With little from Duncan and Ginobili, where they appeared to show their age, the Spurs might be forgiven if they mentally checked out late. But if they're content with the road split, the bad news is that it will be extremely difficult to beat the defending champs three times in a row. With at least one Heat victory in San Antonio, they could have a chance to play for their second straight ring at the AmericanAirlines Arena with home court advantage restored. The Heat has shown improvement but this remains a formidable foe and Game 3 will be their biggest test yet if they want to repeat.