NBA Finals 2013: Key Battles to Watch During Crucial Game 2

Tim KeeneyContributor IJune 9, 2013

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 06:  Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs makes a shot with 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during Game One of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 6, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's difficult to call Game 2 of any series a must-win matchup, but the Miami Heat are suddenly in a dire situation. 

After seemingly outplaying the San Antonio Spurs for three quarters during Game 1 on Thursday, Erik Spoelstra's squad took its foot off the gas pedal just enough for Tony Parker to do Tony Parker things and lead his team to a 92-88 victory.

Should the Spurs pull out another win on Sunday night, they will head west only needing to win two out of three at home to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Heck, even Los Angeles Lakers knowledge distributor Metta World Peace knows how crucial Game 2 will be:

With that in mind, let's take a gander at what to watch:


LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard

That LeBron James guy is kind of good. He is sort of adept at, you know, winning MVP awards and taking over games like few could even dream of. 

Stopping him isn't an option, as he proved with an 18-18-10 line in Game 1, but slowing him down is key for the Spurs. 

There was talk before the series began about 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard having the length and athleticism necessary to accomplish that task, and in the opener, he didn't disappoint.

Check out the ridiculous impact he made on the King, courtesy of USA Today Sports' Alex Kennedy:

In Game 1, James scored six points on 2-for-8 from the field when Leonard was guarding him. His average shot attempt was 16.4 feet away from the basket. Against all other Spurs, James had 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting, and his average attempt was 8.9 feet away from the basket. Forcing James to take difficult shots paid off in the form of a 92-88 Spurs victory.

You can't ask for the second-year pro to do a better job.

Parker and Tim Duncan deservedly get most of the praise for San Antonio, but if Leonard can continue to force James into jump shots, his effect on this series will be mightier than all. 


Three Ball, Corner Pocket

Note: All stats in this section come courtesy of Yahoo! Sports' Dan Devine, unless noted otherwise.

It's not really a secret by now. Both of these teams thrive on ball movement and getting corner threes.

According to, the percentage of Miami's three-point makes that came from the corner during the regular season was 43.1. San Antonio's was 39.4. 

Here's a look at each team's shot distribution during the regular season:

The league average, meanwhile, was far below both of those numbers at 30.0. 

In Game 1, both teams got the attempts they usually get. Miami attempted 12 threes from the corner (48 percent of all their three-point shots), while the Spurs reeled off seven (30.4 percent). 

Neither team was able to knock them down, however. The Heat, who have made 39.0 percent of their corner threes during the postseason, made just four (33.3 percent) on Thursday. The Spurs, who are draining them at 40.2 percent, knocked down just two (28.6 percent). 

Expect both teams to improve from the corner in Game 2, with the squad that does so at a better clip coming away with the integral win.