Few people predicted what would happen in Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals. The Miami Heat came out completely flat while allowing the San Antonio Spurs to shoot a Finals-record 86.7% in the first quarter. The Spurs would go on to rack up 71 first-half points on 75.8% shooting and cruise to a 111-92 victory on Miami’s home floor. Even head coach Greg Popovich admitted afterward, “I don’t think we’ll ever shoot 76 percent in a half again.”
Kawhi Leonard served as the catalyst behind this record, quickly scoring 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting to open the game. This helped San Antonio race out to a 25-12 lead and they never really looked back. The only real scare was when Miami cut the deficit down to seven on a Norris Cole layup in the third quarter. However, the Spurs answered and gave themselves a comfortable cushion.
Now, last year’s runner-up has a 2-1 lead with Game 4 to be played in Miami once again. Even if San Antonio loses, they still have home court advantage. Assuming they win, the series could be all but over. This being said, it’s critical that Miami find a way to win as we head towards Game 4 tomorrow night.
Turn up the Intensity
The Spurs are too good a team for Miami to lose another game on their home floor and still hope to prevail in the series. To keep this from happening and even up the series, the Heat need to come out with more fire on Thursday night. Additionally, they have to realize the importance of every possession. James hit upon this during the post-game press conference with the following:
It was a cumulative of everything. Some possessions we played extremely well and they hit shots. Some possessions we weren’t quite there and they hit shots as well. One thing about this team, if you make a mistake they’re going to make you pay. They came in with a desperation we just didn’t match. Just because it’s our fourth Finals [appearance] doesn’t mean anything. That doesn’t guarantee you a win. It doesn’t guarantee you that you will be more urgent or less urgent than the next team.
Ray Allen was more blunt and critical of the team’s effort than LeBron. “It sucks. It really sucks,” Allen said. “They beat us and we didn’t bring urgency tonight.”
Chris Bosh also added, “We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can come down from 25 down no matter when the time is against a team like that.”
Keys for Miami to keep the Series within Reach
The obvious key for the Heat is to come out and be more aggressive while trying to throw San Antonio’s rhythm off early. In Game 3, Miami trotted out like they were the varsity team scrimmaging the JV squad. It’s hard to win a mid-April regular season game against a bottom feeder with this type of attitude – let alone an NBA Finals game against the league’s top team.
Another huge factor will be the play of Mario Chalmers. He scored just two points and was 0-of-5 from the field in the 111-92 defeat. For the series, Chalmers is averaging just 3.3 PPG. As bad as he’s played, at least the point guard is aware of it. “I think everybody else is doing their job and I’m being that guy that’s not helping out,” said Chalmers. “I don’t want to be that guy.”
One more key for the Heat will be taking Leonard out of the game early. As mentioned before, he started Game 3 on a 5-for-5 shooting tear, which included two three-pointers. So LeBron and Co. will have to do a better job of making the young player miss early so his confidence isn’t as high.
Assuming you’re interested in 2014 NBA Finals Game 4 betting, you can expect a much more competitive contest this time around. However, Miami needs to make some major adjustments for this to be a reality, though.