The 2013 NBA Finals will take center stage once again on Sunday night, as the Miami Heat host the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of their championship series. After the Spurs took Game 1 on the road, the Heat will be desperate to tie the series before the action heads back to San Antonio.
The question is, how will Game 2 transpire and who will emerge victorious?
During Game 1, the Spurs secured a 92-88 victory despite playing one of their worst games of the postseason. The Heat, meanwhile, topped San Antonio in field-goal percentage, three-point field-goal percentage, rebounds and assists.
With a masterful fourth-quarter performance, however, Tony Parker led the Spurs to a stunning upset. Will we see the same in Game 2?
The numbers suggest there will be a bounce-back performance.
Here, I'll break down Game 2 and make predictions for each quarter.
Just don't forget who's on the other side.
The Spurs have weathered many storms in their day, with some being even more difficult than the challenge Miami presents. For that reason, we can't help but expect Tony Parker to run the high pick-and-roll and get Tim Duncan and a cast of shooters involved early.
Just like that, the Heat will find themselves in danger of dropping into a 0-2 hole.
Bosh will finally get his shot going and Mario Chalmers will put on his annual NBA Finals breakout, however, and things will get tight. With LeBron James taking more of a facilitator's role, the Heat will counter San Antonio late in the period.
Unfortunately for Miami, the Spurs will continue to put their championship pedigree on display as they earn an early advantage.
Spurs 25, Heat 22
After taking an early lead, the Spurs will look to their second unit to help carry the load. Unfortunately, the Heat are about to release the weapon that forgot what it means to be aggressive during Game 1.
It's time for Ray Allen's finals moment.
Allen will get his stroke going, even taking it off of the bounce when given the chance, to shoulder the load in the second quarter. With Norris Cole coming up with key hustle plays and Chris Andersen making momentous defensive plays, the Heat will see their bench step up.
Once the starters come back on the floor, however, it will be a different story.
Bosh will continue to make shots, but they'll be few and far between. D-Wade, meanwhile, will struggle with Danny Green's defensive ability, still making shots but struggling to get clean looks.
As for LeBron, his lack of aggression will be erased as he goes to score—it just won't be as powerful an advantage as some may believe.
Parker continues to play at an elite level, but it's Kawhi Leonard who will step up in this quarter. The Spurs need threes and Leonard is coming off of his worst shooting performance all postseason.
He'll bounce back and bring the Spurs back into this one, and just like that, we'll see the same old story—the Heat will seem to be in control, but the Spurs will be right there in it.
Heat 49, Spurs 45
At the beginning of the second half, it will be the familiar story of one team using the three-ball to gain an early edge. Surprisingly, it won't be the home team that comes out firing, as the Spurs will take an early edge behind Tony Parker's aggression.
And then Chalmers will strike again.
Every time the Heat reach the finals, it seems as if Chalmers puts forth an effort to remember. After stepping up in the first quarter, he'll cap it all off with a monstrous third, bringing Miami back and temporarily easing the burden placed upon the stars.
We haven't even talked about LeBron yet, though.
James will counter the Spurs at every turn, finally finding his shot during the third quarter. He'll attack the basket as one might expect, eventually getting Tim Duncan into foul trouble and thus opening the lanes for Wade to work it inside and score.
Suddenly, the Heat will be in control.
Heat 81, Spurs 68
The Miami Heat will have a commanding lead at this stage, and it will be their game to lose. Unfortunately for Miami, it's playing against one of the best cores in NBA history.
It's time for Manu Ginobili to find his groove.
Ginobili will work the three-ball to get going, quieting the crowd and bringing San Antonio within single digits. He'll then take it off of the bounce, displaying his dynamic playmaking ability, as he facilitates and scores in the paint.
Can D-Wade counter?
Wade and Ginobili will remind the world of their Hall of Fame chops as they carry their teams through the closing minutes. LeBron will get his buckets, topping 20 points for the evening, but this will come down to a battle of the off-guards.
In the end, Wade will reign supreme and protect his home court.
Heat 104, Spurs 97