NBA Finals 2013: What the Miami Heat Must Do for Much-Needed Game 4 Win
Game 3 was an unmitigated disaster for Miami, losing by 36 points to San Antonio. The Spurs coasted to victory, and they were able to rest their key starters in the process.
Losing that game puts the Heat in a tough spot, considering the history of teams winning Game 3 in the Finals, per ESPN's Skip Bayless:
Remember The Stat: Since the 2-3-2 format, the Game 3 winner has won the Finals 92.3 % of the time.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 12, 2013
Despite how much the momentum is squarely with San Antonio, if Miami can turn things around in Game 4, it will have evened the series and snatched a win in San Antonio.
If the Heat play up to their potential, the Spurs don't have a chance.
Right now, though, Miami is playing far below its best. Spoelstra will need to get his team impassioned again. It really doesn't seem all that hard.
Will the Miami Heat win Game 4?
The most important thing for the Heat is to actually play defense. This is a team that finished the regular season ranked fifth in opponents' scoring per game, giving up 95.0 points a night. Miami has been even better in the postseason, limiting opposing teams to just 89.0 points a game.
Mike Miller might have scored 15 points, but there were plenty of times when he failed to get out on the perimeter, leaving a Spurs player with an open three. It's not as if he was the only one, though.
Everything the Heat have done right going into the Finals, they did wrong in Game 3. There was no collective desperation on the defensive end. The team's key figures did not beat around the bush about their poor performance, per USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt:
"It's really embarrassing to be a part of that," Bosh said.
"If we bring that same effort and focus the next game, it will be the same outcome," Wade offered.
"We have to get stops," James said.
"You usually get what you deserve in this league in terms of teams putting forth more effort or more focus, more attention to detail," Spoelstra said.
Credit the Heat because they've done a very good job of cutting off Tony Parker's lanes to the hoop. Unfortunately for them, Parker has been able to adjust, and so has the entire Spurs offense.
Miami has yet to react to those adjustments.
Are the Spurs going to go 16-of-32 from three-point range again? More than likely, no. But that doesn't mean the Heat can just play like they did on Tuesday night and expect their luck to turn around. If they continue to sag off shooters like Gary Neal and Danny Green, they're going to get burned again.
Spoelstra will also be helped out if he can find where the Heat's Big Three have been hiding. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh haven't been awful; however, their collective performance is in stark contrast to that of the Neal, Green and Kawhi Leonard, per ESPN Stats & Info:
The Spurs Danny Green-Gary Neal-Kawhi Leonard trio has scored a combined 130 points in the NBA Finals, the same amount as the Heat's Big 3.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2013
There is simply no way that those three players should be outplaying Bosh, Wade and James. Again, they haven't been awful. This is the time, though, when you expect your best players to step up and take over.
Bosh and Wade haven't been themselves for most of the postseason. Perhaps they were saving themselves for the Finals, so they weren't at their best in the early rounds. Now, there's no reason to hold anything back.
Unlike the other two big stars, LeBron had been a beast coming into the Finals. He is the best player in the world right now, and he was playing like it.
James has not demonstrated that dominance against the Spurs, however. ESPN Stats & Info has the difference between Finals LeBron and the first three rounds LeBron:
LeBron James: 16.7 PPG in NBA Finals, 26.2 PPG in 1st 3 rounds this postseason— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2013
The criticism toward James is a bit over the top. As the MVP and top player in the league, it's fair to expect some more scoring from him, though. Sooner or later, he's going to have to take a game over by himself. He doesn't need to go for 50 or 60 points, just 30-40. With his rebounding and passing, LeBron doesn't have to rely solely on scoring in order to put the Heat on his back.
If he doesn't start hitting shots and creating offense for himself, though, the Heat will be in major trouble, especially considering how Bosh and Wade haven't been a huge help.
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