Last night the dominators became the dominated as the San Antonio Spurs avenged their Game Two embarrassment with one of the greatest Finals performances in modern NBA history. Their hot outside shooting and rock solid defense carried them to a 113-77 victory that was the most lopsided defeat the Heat have suffered since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach.
Prior to last night’s game the most lopsided defeat the Heat had suffered in the LeBron era was a 125-95 regular season drubbing which was also administered by the Spurs. San Antonio could do no wrong, stifling Miami’s attempts to get to the rim with clean, foul-free defense and nailing open look after open look created by constant motion and crisp passing on the offensive end. It’s somewhat ironic that the Spurs are beating the Heat with the same kind of offensive attack that was supposed to make the Heat unbeatable, getting penetration with their pick and roll attack and then pinging the ball around the perimeter until they get an open look from outside.
An All-Time Great Performance From An All-Time Great Team
This victory puts the Spurs in very good company. Including last night there have been only five 30+ point victories in NBA Finals series in the last 25 years, making the Spurs performance one of the greatest in modern NBA history. The game is in the same company as the Chicago Bulls’ 96-54 humiliation of Utah in 1998 and their 122-89 shaming of the Portland Trailblazers in 1992, as well as the 131-89 beating the Boston Celtics gave the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008 and the Detroit Pistons 102-71 victory over the Spurs in 2005. The good news for the Heat is that not all of those defeats were suffered by teams who ended up losing the title. The bad news for the Heat is that all but one of those defeats were suffered by teams who ended up losing the title.
Third Star: Danny Green(again). Green continues to show Ray Allen what he used to be and has now hit 12 of his last 14 threes. His hot shooting is a testament to how great the Spurs offense is, as a lot of them are coming from teammates making the extra pass without hesitation as the Heat scramble around trying to chase the Spurs off the three-point line.
Second Star: Kawhi Leonard. In a game where hot shooting seemed to the focus Leonard quietly racked up 12 rebounds and 4 steals while playing solid defense on reigning MVP LeBron James and making smart rotations on defense. His sticky defense and work on the boards have been somewhat overshadowed by the hot shooting and big crunch time plays his teammates have come up with in the series so far but they won’t go unnoticed here.
First Star: Gary Neal. Providing instant offense off the bench, Neal erupted for 25 points in 24 minutes while also contributing 4 rebounds and 3 assists. His performance off the bench was a large part of what kept the foot on the gas for the Spurs, as they never trailed in the game and never really let the Heat back in the game even when their starters were resting. A performance like this was long overdue for Neal, who has struggled with his shot in the playoffs and will likely need to continue to contribute for the Spurs to be able to close out this series.
Play of the Game
This game didn’t really feature one play that really stood out or changed the game, so let’s just bask in Danny Green’s performance: