San Antonio Spurs’ Tiago Splitter (R) fights for a rebound with Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh during the fourth quarter in Game 2 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio, Texas on June 8, 2014. (REUTERS: Mike Stone)
LeBron James avoided cramping issues in Game 2 and he looks to help Miami take the series lead when the Heat host the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the NBA Finals today at 9 p.m. on ABC.
James received plenty of criticism for the Game 1 situation in which he missed most of the final 7 1/2 minutes but his legs held up fine on Sunday as Miami evened the series. James had 35 points and 10 rebounds in Game 2.
San Antonio played a lackluster fourth quarter in Sunday’s 98-96 loss and a tipping point was when point guard Tony Parker and power forward Tim Duncan each missed two free throws in a nine-second span with the Spurs leading by two points midway through the stanza.
James scored the next five points and San Antonio held the lead just once the remainder of the contest. Chris Bosh hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:17 left and James finished 14-of-22 shooting in a strong bounce-back performance.
“Look, he’s the best player in the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters afterward. “He has an incredible way to put his fingerprints on a game.”
Bosh scored 18 points in Game 2 as he was assertive in making sure he got his touches. He not only drained the decisive shot but also threaded a pinpoint pass to guard Dwyane Wade for a layup with 9.4 seconds to give the Heat an insurmountable five-point lead. James was most impressed with some dunks Bosh threw down while being ecstatic about his teammate’s solid all-around game.
“He had two dunks that we haven’t seen in a long time, man,” James told reporters. “When he has that mindset, he just mixes it up. He’s the forgotten guy on our team. Shouldn’t be. Obviously, without his aggressiveness, we don’t win.”
San Antonio closed Game 1 with an impressive 31-9 burst but lacked a finishing kick in Game 2 when it went 6-of-17 shooting in the final quarter. Coach Gregg Popovich noticed issues well before the final 12 minutes and was greatly disappointed with the club’s approach.
“We can’t put it in somebody’s hands and have them create everything for us,” Popovich said in his postgame media session. “It’s got to be a group effort and we didn’t do that. That puts a lot of pressure on everything else. It means we’re going to have to be perfect on defense, we can’t miss four free throws in a row, those sort of things.”
1. Duncan has two double-doubles in the series to raise his career postseason count to 157 and tie former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson for most in NBA playoff history.
2. Miami forward Rashard Lewis has scored in double digits in both games in the series and is 14-of-29 from 3-point range over the last four contests.
3. Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard fouled out of Game 2 and is averaging just nine points and two rebounds in the series.
PREDICTION: Heat 103, Spurs 99