Here are five takeaways from the San Antonio Spurs’ 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena:
1. The Spurs’ shooting in the first half was like a real-life version of the basketball scene from “Pleasantville”: Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green combined to make their first 12 shots. The Spurs made 19 of their first 21 shots, with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker qualifying as slackers with the only misses. San Antonio set Finals records for shooting in the first quarter (86.7%) and first half (75.8%). Leonard finished the game making 10 of 13 shots and Danny Green made seven of eight. Wait, how did the Heat manage to make it a seven-point game in the third quarter?
2. Just when you think you’ve got the series figured out … then you know you don’t. There have been three games, and three vastly different narratives. The Spurs were unstoppable in the paint in Game 1. LeBron James was unstoppable everywhere on the court in Game 2. The Spurs practically couldn’t miss in Game 3. James has been criticized, rechristened as the game’s greatest player and then questioned again after being outplayed by a 22-year-old counterpart in Leonard. Leonard has been derided as regressing after two bad games and then hailed as the present and future of the Spurs after his breakout 29-point performance in Game 3. The one constant: Mario Chalmers has been awful.
3. Chris Bosh and Chalmers picked a bad time to go MIA in MIAMI. Bosh had been the Heat’s second-leading scorer in the Finals before Tuesday, scoring 18 points in each of the first two games. He had averaged 21.2 points over his previous five playoff games. Then came Game 3, when he inexplicably barely touched the ball despite making all four of his shots on the way to an underwhelming nine points. “We have to take this one on the chin,” Bosh said. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re going to win a championship with that kind of effort, home or away.” Meanwhile, Chalmers continued a string of forgettable performances, missing all five shots and committing three turnovers. He has made three of 12 shots in the series and is averaging 3.3 points. Not the kind of numbers you need from a championship-caliber point guard.
4. Game 3 in a tied Finals series isn’t always the make-or-break proposition it seems. Statistically, 83.3% of teams that have won Game 3 in a Finals that’s tied 1-1 have gone on to win the series. That didn’t quite work out last year, though, when the Spurs blew out the Heat in even more embarrassing fashion—by 36 points—in Game 3 but lost the series in seven games. So, to quote the Jerky Boys, “Ya never, never, know.”
5. It’s time to again put that legendary Heat resolve to the test. Miami is the two-time defending champion in large part because it has won its last 13 playoff games after a loss. The last time the Heat lost consecutive postseason games was the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, when it dropped Games 3, 4 and 5 against the Boston Celtics before rallying to win the series. That was also the year the Heat won its first title with its current Big Three alignment.