The 2013 NBA Finals have been nothing short of excellent thus far, with the San Antonio Spurs stealing Game 1 and the Miami Heat rebounding in a big way to even things up in Game 2.
That second matchup was the most revealing and critical of the pair of contests played so far, as it unveiled the true heart of this Miami team and proved that it can rebound from adversity.
Let’s take a look at some of the more important lessons learned from Sunday night’s showdown.
LeBron James Still a Force Without Scoring
After posting an 18-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in the inaugural game of this series, King James proved that stats aren’t everything in Game 2.
James finished with fewer points (17), boards (eight) and dimes (seven) than he did in the Game 1 loss, but he saw his team march to a 103-84 victory in a must-win situation.
His impact was mostly felt on the defensive end of the floor, as the versatile forward was quarterbacking his team’s efforts, rotating quickly and switching at the right time.
The most visual impact he made was in the rim-protection department, as his block on Tiago Splitter will go down in the annals of history as one of the biggest and most savage rejections in the NBA Finals.
If James can continue grabbing boards, setting up teammates and playing elite defense, he will hardly need to score to guide the Heat to victory.
Heat Impossible to Beat Following a Loss
The last time Miami lost back-to-back games was back in January, when the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers took care of business at home on Jan. 8 and 10, respectively.
Which team will win Game 3?
You’d have to go back to the 2011 NBA Finals to find the last time the Heat dropped two in a row at home—as the Dallas Mavericks won Game 2 in AmericanAirlines Arena and celebrated their championship on the same court 10 days later in Game 6.
Miami has been simply dominant coming off of a loss, as the team has won 11 straight, including five in the postseason with an eye-popping 21.6 points per game differential.
As the Spurs quickly learned, Miami is the best team in the NBA, and collectively this group possesses the will of a champion.
If the Heat are going to lose this series, it’s going to take seven games—with the Spurs winning every other from here on out.
Turnovers are Key Stat
Keep an eye on the turnovers in Game 3, as the side that forces the most and capitalizes on them will likely be the victorious one.
In Game 1, the Spurs committed just four turnovers, executing a highly effective offense that emphasized open mid-range jumpers, high-percentage shots at the rim and efficient threes from the corner.
That changed in Game 2, when the Miami defense forced 16 turnovers and capitalized with 19 points. Considering that ended up being the margin of victory, the Spurs have to play perfectly in order to win.
Give the Heat credit too, as their ball-handlers were smart with the rock and the team only coughed up a collective six turnovers in the contest.
If the defending champs can keep that number way down again, they’ll have no problem winning in San Antonio.