NBA FINALS PREVIEW
In Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals we saw Kawhi Leonard take off with a team-leading 29 points, two steals; two blocks in route to a 111-92 blowout by Head Coach Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs against the Miami Heat in one of the greatest offensive first halves in NBA Finals history.
Popovich was also impressed, “I don’t think we’ll ever shoot… I think 76 percent (of our shots) in a half ever again”.
But this is not time for the Heat to be discouraged, they’re only down a game in the series and the Finals is far from over. However, if the Heat were to tie the series tonight, they would have to:
1) Stay on guard against Kawhi Leonard: Leonard put on a one-man show Tuesday night, he put up points inside & outside the paint, got a couple steals & blocked the most shots in a single game since the Eastern Conference Semi-finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. This young 6’7 forward from San Diego State knows what it means to step up to the challenge.
2) Guard the outside: Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili recalls “I think at one point we were 19/20 on three point shots”. Needless to say, 95% of San Antonio’s three-point attempts at one point were made. The Heat must force them inside the zone & draw the tough shots on defense.
3) Take small bites on offense: I know this is the Heat & the’King’ we are talking about, but it wouldn’t be ideal to take your chances at one three-pointer after another against a championship contending team like the Spurs. Down a game, the safest way for the Heat to get an early lead is to work inside the paint, draw the shooting fouls and take advantage.
For the Spurs to take a 3-1 series lead,
2) Stay inside on defense: do not let the Heat break inside too easily for an easy two, make them work outside & earn those three-point shots. Unless the Heat score like the Spurs did in Game 3 outside the paint, which is always a possibility, the Spurs need to be ready for rebounds and go back to work on a sizzling offense.
3) Work the fouls & make the free-bees: if the game is close, the Spurs should work to draw as many fouls as possible & make full use when given the chance after making 81 percent of their free throws in Game 3. Usually in a tight situation it is the smallest things, such as a free throw, that tend to matter most.
The Spurs face the Heat tonight at American Airlines Arena in Miami at 9:00 E.T. on ABC.