SAN ANTONIO SPURS (76-27)
at MIAMI HEAT (67-33)
Game 4 - San Antonio leads series 2-1
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -5, Total: 197.5
The Heat look to even the NBA Finals on Thursday night after allowing the Spurs to take control of the series in Game 3.
From the opening tip on Tuesday, San Antonio made it clear that it was not intimidated by playing on the road. The club put on an unbelievable shooting display (59.4% FG, 45.0% threes, 81.2% FT) in a 111-92 blowout of the four-point favorite Heat. The Spurs, who are now 34-16 SU (28-22 ATS) away from home, turned the ball over 12 times in Game 3 compared to the Heat's 20 miscues. Although Miami is only 24-25-1 ATS at home this season, the club is still 40-10 SU, and is also 6-2 SU (4-4 ATS) versus San Antonio at AmericanAirlines Arena over the past three seasons. For those betting in this contest, the Spurs are 24-9 ATS over the past three seasons after a road win in which they scored 110 or more points. But they are only 2-8 ATS in the fourth game of a playoff series in that time timeframe while Miami is 3-0 ATS in fourth games of series this year. The Heat also happen to be 8-1 ATS when trailing in a playoff series over the past three years. Sixteen of the past 22 games played in Miami between these teams since 1996 have gone Under the total.
The Spurs put on an offensive clinic against the Heat in Game 3, scoring 111 points in the game, including a 71-point first half where they shot an NBA Finals record 75.8% FG. SF Kawhi Leonard (15.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG in series) played the best playoff game of his life on Tuesday, scoring a career-high 29 points (10-of-13 FG, 3-of-6 threes) while also coming away with four rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 39 minutes. Leonard, who scored only 9.0 PPG in the first two games of this series, also played some smothering defense on LeBron James while the Heat were threatening to make a comeback early in the fourth quarter. SG Danny Green (12.3 PPG, 2.7 SPG in series) also had a huge game for the Spurs, finishing with 15 points (7-of-8 FG, 1-of-2 threes), three assists and five steals in just 21 minutes of play. Green did most of his damage from inside the three-point line, which is something that the Heat defense was not ready for on Tuesday. His ability to drive the ball should make him an extremely tough cover the rest of the way, as Miami will not be able to simply key in on his jumper. PF Tim Duncan (17.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG in series) continued to be a presence inside, playing 30 minutes and ending up with 14 points and six rebounds. Miami has been no match for Duncan when he is catching the ball with at least one foot in the paint, so San Antonio will definitely look to get Duncan the ball more often if the outside shots stop falling. PG Tony Parker (18.3 PPG, 6.3 APG, 1.3 SPG in series) and SG Manu Ginobili (15.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, 1.7 SPG in series) combined to score 26 points in this game, but when their role players arenít shooting the lights out in Game 4, they will need to be way more aggressive in getting shots for themselves.
Although Miami was blown out on its home floor on Tuesday, there was seemingly not much that they could do to prevent it. The Spurs were not missing anything from the outside in the first half and it put the Heat in too big of a hole to climb out of. SF LeBron James (27.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.3 APG, 3.3 SPG in series) was not at his best on Tuesday, despite getting off to a hot start. James had 15 points in the first quarter, but he finished with just 22 points (9-of-14 FG) in the game. Kawhi Leonard really gave him trouble in the second half and James wound up with seven turnovers and a game-low rating of minus-21. The superstar abandoned his jumper late in the contest and should look to be more aggressive when his defenders back off of him in Game 4 and beyond. SG Dwyane Wade (18.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.3 SPG in series) was also strong offensively in this game, ending up with 22 points (8-of-12 FG) in 36 minutes. However, Wade committed five turnovers and was exploited defensively at times. He will need to be much more active as he chases around the Spursí shooters the rest of the series. One of the best sources of offense in this series for Miami has surprisingly been PF Rashard Lewis (12.7 PPG in series). Lewis was a non-factor for most of the playoffs and regular season for Miami, but he has now scored 14 points in back-to-back games and has reached double-digits in five straight contests. If Lewis can continue to hit his threes (4-for-5 in Game 3, 9-for-18 in series), the floor is going to be wide open for his teammates to operate. PF Chris Bosh (15.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG in series) will need more touches the rest of the way, as he hit all of his four attempts in Game 3. He also has to get in the paint more, as he pulled down only three rebounds in 34 minutes and finished with a minus-18 rating.