With 3:50 remaining in the third quarter of Game 2 between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, Spurs guard Danny Green had just pumped faked Heat forward LeBron James and went straight to the rim to score his 17th point of the night with an uncontested layup.
The Spurs led 62-61 over the Heat for a small moment; however, the following play by Mario Chalmers would ignite a Heat run that would send the Spurs back to San Antonio after being blown out 103-84 Sunday.
After Green scored, Heat guard Mario Chalmers would score on the other end attacking Green and the Spurs’ defense with a right-handed layup that drew contact and resulted with an and-1 opportunity. The Heat would take a 64-62 lead with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter, and from there, they would never look back as they took command for the night.
“I felt like we had them on the ropes at the time,” said Chalmers after the game of his and-1 play. “I told them (the Heat) lets go for the kill.”
Going for the kill was understatement, as Chalmers and the Heat would outscore the Spurs 41-22 for the remainder of the game. The Heat ended the third quarter with a 5-0 run and took it into the fourth quarter to begin with a 9-0 run.
The Heat lead would stretch as far as 27 points and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich pulled his starters early, since the Spurs had little to no chance of making a comeback.
Asked after the game about the Heat’s run, Popovich responded quite simply, “They did a great job.”
From there, Popovich was asked if his team was tired and he took tired out of any answer.
“It’s not about tired,” said Popovich, “it’s about Miami played their ass off.”
“You need to shoot well and you need to take care of the basketball,” continued Popovich after the game. After turning the ball over just four times in Game 1, the Spurs’ hands looked like butter fingers in Game 2 as they turned the ball over 17 times and gave up 19 points to the Heat off of those turnovers. In fact, in the first quarter alone, the Spurs had already tallied five turnovers.
"If you turn it over and miss shots the way we did it's a bad combination,” finished Popovich on his assessment of Game 2.
The Spurs’ “Big 3” of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan looked to be missing in action in Game 2 as the big three combined to shoot 10-of-33 from the field, tally 27 points, and were responsible for 9 of the Spurs’ 17 turnovers.
“We’ve got no shot at winning a game against them if none of us play better,” said Ginobili after the game.
Even Duncan himself admitted he didn’t have his best game. “Credit to Miami,” said Duncan postgame. “They outplayed us. I know I played awfully.”
From the Spurs’ end, the Heat were just more aggressive according to their players and they too were responsible for how the result came with their lack of care for the basketball.
“It was more aggressive,” said Popovich of the Heat’s defense. “They were really aggressive obviously,” added Parker. “We have to take care of the basketball better.”
“We had a poor game,” continued Ginobili. “In the second half, they just run us over. Their pressure really got us on our heels. It’s disappointing.”
“Their role players really hurt us tonight,” continued Parker. “Turnovers and that starts with me.”
On a night where James struggled shooting 7-of-17 and only scoring 17 points, Dwayne Wade went scoreless in the second half, and Chris Bosh only scored 12 points though it took him 10 shots, the Heat role players were magnificent.
Chalmers led the team in scoring with 19 points. Ray Allen and Mike Miller came off the bench to shoot a combined 6-of-8 three pointers for 22 points, and Chris “Birdman” Andersen was a constant headache for the Spurs’ pick-and-roll defense as he too provided nine points off the bench, mainly open dunks in P-&-R situations.
On the Spurs’ end, a few of their role players were also what kept them competitive for three quarters. Danny Green was on fire from the start as he scored 9 points in the first quarter to finish the game shooting 5-of-5 from 3-point range. Even when Ginobili and Parker were not able to provide any scoring, Gary Neal helped keep the Spurs on the board with 10 points off the bench.
Asked if the bench still needed to do more on offense since the “Big 3” were struggling, Popovich didn’t feel that was their job.
“Tony, Timmy, and Manu were the one’s that were 10-of-33,” said Popovich. “I’m not going to put that on the bench.”
The new adage is “the Spurs go as Parker goes” and like Game 1 where Parker was spectacular and the result was a victory, in Game 2 Parker struggled and the result was a blow out. The Heat used a strategy similar to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the second round, as they threw multiple defenders at Parker.
“We just gave him different matchups,” said Chalmers after the game. “We didn’t let him get comfortable with one person.”
“We just want to try to make it tough on him,” added James. “Just try to throw so many bodies on him and try to wear him down.”
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Spurs’ “Big 3” just had an off night. “Duncan made a lot of those shots last game,” said Spoelstra. “Same thing for Parker.”
Defensively, the Heat’s aggression was displayed early on as they disrupted the Spurs’ pick-and-roll plays with quick jabs when passes where made to the rolling man. The Spurs had to work with most of their plays going toward the baseline which affected their overall offense.
The Spurs now head back to San Antonio accomplishing what they went to Miami to do, split one of the two games and take homecourt advantage. Though they’re still in a great position, the blowout has shifted in the Heat’s favor and the reality is for eight quarters of this series, the Spurs have only led in one quarter.
The Spurs will have one day to fly home, rest, watch film, and make adjustments as Game 3 will tip-off on Tuesday in the AT&T Center. The Heat were all smiles on the bench when they were up 20 in the fourth quarter, but after the game, the Spurs themselves didn’t seemed rattled by the loss. The calm display of emotions by each team after the game is a sample of exactly why these are the best two teams remaining in basketball.