Before we get into the Game 3 thoughts, I would like to apologize for not being able to write any thoughts on Game 2. If you read my thoughts on Game 1, you know I was at a wedding (Congrats to the new Mr. and Mrs. Davis) and the game was going on during the reception. WatchESPN came in handy in the first half, but my battery went out like the Spurs in the second half, so a full post wouldn’t have been genuine. The family and I made it home and I will be here with my thoughts on the rest of the games in this series, starting now with my Game 3 thoughts.
1. Am I Still In Tampa?: The wedding I attended Sunday was outdoors. As it got closer to starting, heavy storm clouds began to approach. Everyone was hoping to get the wedding in before the rain hit. Wind started blowing and there were even a few sprinkles. Thankfully, the Pastor sped the proceedings up and quickly concluded the service. The very moment he introduced the lovely couple with everyone under the canopy for cocktail hour, the rain came down like a monsoon. Watching the game last night reminded me of that.
The Spurs had moments where they looked like they would run away with the game in the first half. They built multiple double-digit leads and looked to have the Heat at an arm’s length. A prime example is their eight point lead with 2:24 left in the first half that evaporated when the Heat came back to tie it with 37 seconds left in the half. The Spurs countered that with three-pointers by Tony Parker and Gary Neal to lead by six at the half. Then they opened the flood gates with threes in the second half. Nine of their 16 three pointers came in the second half storm. They hit them from all spots on the court. Some were contested, some were wide open. It was fun to watch guys like Neal and Danny Green get to shine on the biggest stage. They rained down threes like the rain came down in Tampa after the wedding and sent the Heat scrambling to the canopy looking for shelter and answers.
2. Remember the Name: When Kawhi Leonard was coming out of San Diego State, I felt whoever took him in the draft was getting a gem. When the Spurs made a trade to do so, it became a classic case of the rich getting richer. He is paying big dividends for them in the Finals so far. There are certain players in each sport that are unstoppable, with the only hope being to make life difficult for them each game. LeBron James is in that category when it comes to the NBA. Through three games, Kawhi Leonard has done an exceptional job in making life difficult for LeBron.
Against the Pacers, LeBron was well-defended by Paul George in the first couple games. Then, Erik Spoelstra made the adjustment and put LeBron in the post. While George played intense, he was not strong enough to handle him down low. That is not the story for Kawhi Leonard. He is one of the guys that can not only defend LeBron on the perimeter, but can handle him if the Heat put him on the block.
Between Leonard’s man to man defense and the help that is stationed behind him, it has been hard for LeBron to get going. The Spurs defensive gameplan has been beautiful, but they would not be able to do it without Kawhi Leonard. Add to that his timely shooting and excellent rebounding, and you have a guy that is playing great on the biggest stage.
His personality is not one that draws attention and he probably will never be an endorsement magnet, but he will always show up, play good ball and be a part of many wins in his career. Sounds like the perfect player for the Spurs. Remember Kawhi Leonard’s name, because the kid will be a serious player in the NBA for a long time.
3. Tighten Up: Now that we have gotten the two blowouts out of the way, here’s hoping that we get a tight Game 4. It is my belief that it will be everything we saw in Game 1. There is a lot on the line in this upcoming game. Should the Spurs win, the series might not make it back to South Beach, so I fully expect the Heat to come out and play a lot harder than they did in Game 3. We all know that they have won every game after a loss by over ten points, but I would be shocked if the Spurs get blown out at home.
I also believe that neither team will have a three point barrage like they had in Games 2 and 3. That was some of the most outrageous shooting we have seen in years. Both teams are chocked full of shooters, but I expect the coaches to adjust and not give up so many good looks in Game 4. It will be very interesting to see how Game 4 plays out. Let’s hope both teams show up and we have one of those great games that we expected to see throughout the entirety of this series.
There you have my thoughts on Game 3. Game 4 should be a fun one. I can’t wait to see how each team shows up and if Miami can make this a series again. Feel free to comment here or on Twitter.
I’m Jimmy L. Wilson, Jr., and I approve this message.