Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs: Game 3 Postgame Grades and Analysis
South Beach didn't have it from the very beginning. The Heat struggled to score on the Spurs' defense all night and were lucky to be in the game as long as they were.
San Antonio headed into the half with a six-point lead before blowing it open in the third quarter.
Led by Danny Green's eight points, the Spurs outscored the Heat 28-19, allowing them to take a 15-point advantage into the fourth. Had LeBron James not ended the period scoring nine straight points, the Heat would have been down by even more.
Somehow, the fourth quarter got progressively worse for Miami. James and friends were outscored 35-14, throwing in the towel well before the final buzzer sounded.
While the Heat had a contest to forget, the Spurs have plenty to smile about. Teams that have entered Game 3 of the finals in a 1-1 tie and won have gone on to win the series 92.3 percent of the time since 1985.
That's something for the Heat to think about as they look ahead to Game 4.
Mario Chalmers, MIA: D
Mario Chalmers got into foul trouble in the first half and never fully recovered. He shot 0-of-5, was held scoreless and committed four turnovers.
His defense was better in the second half, but Norris Cole provided more of a spark on offense. From holding the ball too long to the misuse of screens, he didn't have it in Game 3. Which is a damn shame.
With Dwyane Wade continuing to toil in second-half obscurity, the Heat really need Chalmers to play more like he did in Game 2. Game 3 was one to forget.
Tony Parker, SAS: B-
Tony Parker wasn't himself, and it showed. He left the game during the third quarter only to return, but he clearly didn't have it tonight.
Had it not been for Tony Parker's incisive passes off pick-and-rolls in the first half, he would have been a complete non-factor
Parker was 2-of-5 from the field, finishing with a mere six points. He was able to pitch in eight assists, however, seven of which came in the first half.
To be sure, the Spurs didn't need Parker to have a monstrous night. Once it became clear that his teammates had it going, Parker elected to defer.
Defensively, San Antonio's point man did an adequate job guarding Chalmers, mostly during the first half. Chalmers has the size advantage, but Parker was able to keep him out of the paint (when Chalmers actually decided to move with the ball) and drew a key foul in the second quarter.
Still, the Spurs need more on offense from Parker moving forward. There were a few occasions when he relinquished control of the ball inside the paint when he should've put it up. That's not going to cut it. His health could become a concern moving on (curse that hamstring).
You know, unless Gary Neal and Danny Green continue to never miss.
Dwyane Wade, MIA: B
I was not impressed with Dwyane Wade.
I was intrigued when he went 5-of-7 in the first half, but his second half showing (2-of-8 from the floor) was one to forget.
Wade wasn't closing out on San Antonio's shooters well enough on defense, nor was he rotating properly off screens. Then again, no one on the Heat was.
What didn't go unnoticed was Wade's on-ball defense. He forced four steals and even blocked a shot. His lateral movements weren't too shabby either.
Though he ultimately finished with 16 points and five assists on 7-of-15 shooting, the Heat will need a more consistent effort on the offensive end from Wade if they wish to erase this 2-1 deficit.
Danny Green, SAS: A
Danny Green went bananas.
Not only did he shoot 7-of-9 from three, but he played terrific defense on Wade and LeBron James. He was a defensive stalwart in transition and finished with two steals and two blocks.
But man, his offense. Green was simply lights-out from beyond arc, draining trey after trey. Credit the Spurs as a collective with making extra passes to afford him some easy looks, but his quick and fluid release deserves most of the recognition.
On a night when Tony Parker wasn't himself and Tim Duncan couldn't get it going offensively, Green stepped up in a big way to the tune of 27 points.
LeBron James, MIA: C+
People will chide LeBron James for his lackluster stat line in this one. Then they'll call for my job for being so generous. But he wasn't that bad.
James finished with 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting, a regrettable clip for a Heat team that desperately needed him to take over. And believe me, I understand how tepid his offensive showing was.
He needs to be more aggressive, kind of like he was during the final two-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, when he notched nine straight points.
While his shot wasn't falling, James did clean up on the glass (11 rebounds). He was also probably the Heat's most active defender aside from Dwyane Wade, which isn't really saying much.
For Miami to rebound from this disaster in Game 4, James needs attack earlier and more often. And yeah, he needs to hit more of those open jumpers too.
Kawhi Leonard, SAS: A
Kawhi Leonard has monstrous hands, and you know what they say about guys with monstrous hands—they wreak defensive havoc.
The sophomore was sensational on defense. He made life for James a strategical hell, even in the post, where he was supposed to be overmatched.
Now back to those hands of his. The ones that snagged four steals and kept anyone and everyone he was guarding (James included) outside of the paint.
Oh, and Leonard went 6-of-10 from the field for 14 points to go along with 12 rebounds, in case you're into that sort of well-rounded awesomeness.
Udonis Haslem, MIA: B-
Udonis Haslem logged just 10 minutes and missed both of his field-goal attempts, yet he was still able to make a (slight) difference.
Though outmatched on the glass, Haslem managed to bring down three rebounds in limited action, two of which came on the offensive end. He also registered one block.
Spacing became a problem when he was on the floor, though.
Void of a true low-post threat outside of LeBron James, the Heat can't afford to have two players (Haslem and Chris Bosh) setting up shop in no-man's land. Not when the Spurs aren't allowing to them to run the pick-and-roll as much as they'd like.
Tim Duncan, SAS: B+
Tim Duncan didn't have the Midas touch on the offensive end, shooting just 5-of-11 from the floor and committing four turnovers, yet he still managed to get the job done.
In addition to his 12 points, he had 14 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end. Neither Bosh nor anyone else was able to keep him off the offensive glass.
His shot not falling, Duncan set some nice, hard, wide-legged screens that inevitably freed up some of San Antonio's shooters.
Those two blocks of his don't do his defensive efforts justice either. He played phenomenal transition defense and frustrated every member of the Heat that dared attack the paint.
All in all, it was another understated performance from one of the league's ageless wonders. Tell us what else isn't new.
Chris Bosh, MIA: B-
Someone ought to remind Chris Bosh that there's a championship at stake. Perhaps then he'll play like he has something to both lose and win.
Not that I'm implying Bosh is lazy, because he's not. He's actually one of the harder working players in the NBA. People just tend to overlook him, and that's the problem.
Bosh is struggling to put together complete performances during the playoffs. Here he was able to grab 10 rebounds and send back three shots, but he was just 4-of-10 from the floor for 12 points. Miami's big man did dish out four assists in what was a pretty unbalanced two-way display.
When you're as committed as we know Bosh is, you want to see some more fire. He had one of the quietest double-doubles ever.
Ruffling more feathers on the defensive end is must. Crashing the offensive glass harder, too. Taking his opponents off the dribble more is a necessity. The Heat aren't going to get past the Spurs if he isn't more aggressive on both ends of the floor on the same night.
Tiago Splitter, SAS: B
The good news: Tiago Splitter wasn't de-posterized by LeBron James in Game 3. The bad news: There was none.
Splitter shot just 2-of-5 from the field and didn't provide the timely help defense the Spurs are used to, but he was a big part of the reason why the Heat were held to 32 points in the paint.
Five rebounds, one assist and two steals in 24 minutes make for a stellar effort from San Antonio's underrated tower.
That he was able to limit Bosh's opportunities on the defensive end doesn't hurt either.
Ray Allen, MIA: B
No one is as eager to join the Mike Miller bandwagon as I am, but the Heat need to find a way to get Ray Allen more shots.
He took only two in 19 minutes, making both of them. A few possessions saw him make an extra pass he normally wouldn't, but overall, he wasn't featured like he needs to be.
In fairness to Erik Spoelstra, Allen struggled immensely on the defensive end. Keeping up with San Antonio's foray of shooters didn't appear to be an option, likely one of the driving forces behind Allen's limited playing time.
And yet, if the Heat can find a way to get the ever-hobbled Mike Miller five shots in 22 minutes, they can surely do the same for Allen.
Personally, I'm of the mind that they need to run more trailing sets, where Allen joins the play late, LeBron James dumps it off to the right and the former pulls up for a quick three. Just saying.
Manu Ginobili, SAS: C+
The first half saved Manu Ginobili from a dreaded "D."
Through the first two quarters, Ginobili went 2-of-4 from the field, posting four points and four assists. In the second half, he went 1-of-3 from the floor, logging under 10 minutes (San Antonio really didn't need him to play anymore).
Having been anything but consistent during these finals, it's a wonder Ginobili hasn't prevented the Spurs from going up 2-1. There's a point in seemingly every game where you think he's back, ready to light up the scoreboards and hit a big shot or 10.
Then you blink, and Ginobili is struggling to navigate the court, much like Dwyane Wade.
For now, the Spurs will take his seven points and six assists. Then again, it's easier to be forgiving coming off a 36-point pummeling of the NBA's best team.
Miami Heat: B+
Bench play was the highlight of Miami's night, and I'm being serious.
Mike Miller lit it up once again, going 5-of-5 from downtown for 15 points. His defense was suspect and contributed to Gary Neal's (spoiler) and Danny Green's gaudy totals, but he did more than enough.
Chris Andersen was solid as well, hitting his only shot and blocking one as well in 11 minutes. Finishing with no rebounds is a bit out of character for him, though.
Norris Cole continues to win over my affections with his explosive play. He went 3-of-8 from the floor for eight points, three assists, two steals and a block. Those three turnovers didn't help Miami's cause, but he was one of the few perimeter bright spots for the Heat on defense.
The shot Shane Battier hit near the end of Game 2 didn't carry over to Game 3. He missed his only two attempts, his saving grace being his three rebounds in eight minutes. I'm left wondering if the Heat could have used more of his defense in this one.
James Jones and Joel Anthony both scored also. So yeah, there's that.
San Antonio Spurs: A
Neal had the game of his, mine and your life, finishing with 24 points in just 25 minutes on 9-of-17 shooting (6-of-10) from deep. He also pitched in four rebounds and three assists en route to a very Mike-Miller-Game-5-of-the-2012-NBA-Finals Game 3 performance.
DeJuan Blair decided to remind the league he'll be available this summer. He went 4-of-5 from the field for nine points in six minutes, also grabbing two rebounds.
Corey Joseph, Patty Mills and Tracy McGrady all saw time, combining for four points on 2-of-8 shooting.
Could they have played better, especially knowing some of their minutes came during garbage time? Absolutely, but Neal did more than enough for everyone.