The San Antonio Spurs shot 75.8 percent from the floor in the first half of Game 3 on Tuesday – an NBA Finals record.
That’s an astounding number, of course, but if not for a dry spell late in the second quarter, it would have been even higher. San Antonio made 19 of its first 21 shots. That’s a 90.5 field-goal percentage.
In hindsight, Steve Aschburner said, maybe we should have seen this coming.
“You don’t expect somebody to shoot 19-of-21 to start, but I assumed that they would move the ball the way they did because they had so talked about that as a problem down the stretch in Game 2,” the NBA.com senior writer said on Ferrall on the Bench. “So you just knew that that was going to be an emphasis. When they had Boris Diaw in the starting lineup (instead of Tiago Splitter), that made sense.”
“But to hit those shots, no, that’s uncanny.”
San Antonio shot 25-of-33 in the first half and finished with 21 assists on 38 baskets. The Spurs also had more rebounds than Miami (29-26), more assists (21-17), more steals (12-8), more blocks (4-1) and far fewer turnovers (12-20).
It all amounted to a 111-92 San Antonio win.
“Miami, I think, was caught a little bit sleeping,” Aschburner said, “and then I think they overcompensated and got overly aggressive defensively – and some of that was used against them.”
Indeed, Kawhi Leonard finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and Danny Green – normally a three-point specialist – shot 6-of-6 from inside the arc, finishing with 15 points.
Tony Parker (15 points), Tim Duncan (14) and Manu Ginobili (11) all reached double figures.
“Miami was not prepared to start that game,” Aschburner said,” and San Antonio was super prepared to start that game.”
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had solid games for Miami, but neither was spectacular. They combined to shoot 17-of-26 from the floor and each finished with 22 points. But they also had 12 turnovers.
Mario Chalmers, meanwhile, is averaging 3.3 points in the series, and Chris Bosh took just four shots in Game 3 – despite playing 34 minutes.
“I think they forgot about him,” Aschburner said. “I think in their desperation to catch up, they were kicking the ball out for three-pointers and things like that, and it just got away from them in terms of (having) Chris Bosh as a go-to guy. They kind of neglected him (through) no fault of his own. He takes a lot of heat for various things, but he can only do what the offense allows him to do. And I think that they were in panic mode, they were scrambling, and Chris Bosh just sort of drifted out of their vision.”
The numbers back it up. Bosh had just 12 offensive touches in Game 3 – this after averaging 39.5 in Games 1 and 2.
Bosh will need to be heavily involved in Game 4 if the Heat hope to avoid a 3-1 deficit, which history tells us they will.
“I’ve covered this Heat team a lot during these four years, and every time they get in a little hole, it doesn’t become a big hole,” Aschburner said. “They hang tough. And it’s almost to the point – nothing against Miami – but I’m curious to see not only how they would respond to a two-game deficit, but how the basketball world would respond. Would they immediately fast forward and say it’s over for the Heat? Or would they give this team a chance because they are two-time champs and dig out of that hole and maybe surprise some people?”
“So part of me, just for the drama of it, I would like to see how Miami handles a two-game deficit,” Aschburner continued. “But they’ve just been too resilient to give us that example.”