San Antonio Spurs crush Miami Heat after best-shooting half in NBA Finals history
Kawhi Leonard scores career-high 29 points and Spurs make record 75.8 per cent of their shots in first half
History would suggest they did everything right.
Since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh teamed up for the “Big 3” era with the Miami Heat, there had been some absolute truths when it came to their home play-off games. When they shot at least 48 per cent, they were 18-0. When they made at least 10 shots from 3-point range, they were 12-0. And in this postseason, they were a perfect 8-0 in their building.
No more. On any count.
No Miami miracle this time, either.
A blowout got interesting for a few minutes, but in the end, it basically wound up as a blowout anyway – and the road to a third straight NBA championship got considerably tougher.
Down by a staggering 25 points at one point in the first half, the Heat whittled their way within single digits. But they never got all that close to the San Antonio Spurs and wound up falling 111-92 in game three of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.
The Spurs lead the series 2-1, and need only to hold serve at home to end Miami’s reign as NBA champions.
“I don’t think we’ll ever shoot 76 per cent in a half ever again,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
San Antonio reserve Manu Ginobili said: “It’s not something you can plan for. There was no magic plays. We just moved the ball and every shot went in.”
James and Wade each scored 22 points, Bosh didn’t miss a shot, they connected on 52 per cent of their tries from the floor, and they still got drilled. Rashard Lewis scored 14, Ray Allen had 11 and Bosh had only nine – getting just four shots in 34 minutes.
Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 29 points. Danny Green and Tony Parker each scored 15 for San Antonio and Tim Duncan added 14 for the Spurs.
“I just found a rhythm and my teammates found me the ball. I made shots,” Leonard said.
The signs of trouble were obvious from the get-go. James had 14 points in the early going, and Miami were still down by seven. The Heat gave up 41 points in the first quarter, defence nowhere to be found.
At one point in the second quarter, it was Spurs 55, Heat 30. That matched the largest deficit Miami have faced at home at any point in the Big 3 era, tied only with the 25-point lead Oklahoma City held over the Heat during this regular season.
"They came out in a different gear than we were playing at," said a frustrated Erik Spoelstra, coach of the two-time defending NBA champions.
The numbers were absurd. Out of San Antonio’s first 21 shots, the Spurs missed two. Yes, two. They were shooting 91 per cent for the game at one point in the second quarter.
They made 11 straight shots in one stretch. They had the best-shooting first half (75.8 per cent) by any NBA team since ... well, them, more than three years ago against Detroit.
Miami got within seven in the second half, but it was never really in doubt. The building was just about empty when the final buzzer sounded.