Round 1 went to the San Antonio Spurs. Round 2 went to the Miami Heat. With two of the best heavyweights in the NBA squaring off yet again on Tuesday night, it's anyone's guess who will be left standing.
Game 3 not only promises to be a knock-down, drag-out fight, but also an unpredictable one between two unstoppable teams. Both teams have traded off blows in San Antonio and now head to Miami with a 1-1 series.
Following an opening to the series that was marred by "Crampgate," LeBron James came out in a big way in the second game. After showing out with 35 points and 10 rebounds, King James appears to be back on track for more huge performances the rest of the way.
With the series now heading back to Miami, let's take a look at the schedule and a full prediction for Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Game 3 Information
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami
When: Tuesday, June 10, 9 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
NBA Finals Prediction
Momentum is a tricky thing in sports. After seemingly capturing it following Game 1 of the Finals, the Spurs not only lost it in Game 2, but gave the Heat reason for optimism.
San Antonio played a tight game at home throughout the second game of the matchup but couldn't match Miami on either end in the final quarter. Mustering up just 18 points in the fourth frame, the Spurs wilted down the stretch as the Heat rose to the occasion.
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports notes the issues with San Antonio's play late in Game 2:
There’s little wrong with continually posting up a future Hall of Famer like [Tim] Duncan or letting [Tony] Parker forays to the hoop define your evening, but San Antonio needs rhythm to its bounce and it thrives on attacking a defense with five players at a time. Miami is to be credited for sussing out San Antonio’s initial options offensively; denying baseline drives and screens away from the ball, but the Spurs are not going to enjoy watching tape of Game 2 in the hours between Sunday evening and Tuesday’s Game 3 in Miami. The movement and timing that marked Game 1’s somewhat convincing win was absent down the stretch Sunday, with those untimely free-throw misses and turnovers giving James enough space to help his team pull away.
Containing the Heat's Big Three is no easy task, but the lack of ball movement allowed Miami to suffocate the Spurs offense.
Over the years, San Antonio has regularly been the smartest team on the court in nearly every matchup. With multiple weapons on offense, including Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, not finding the open man during every opportunity is inexcusable.
One man who knows his team's strengths and weaknesses is Gregg Popovich, who spoke about the struggles per Quixem Ramirez of ProjectSpurs.com:
Pop: "We didn’t do it as a group. We tried to do it individually and we aren’t good enough to do that."— Quixem Ramirez (@quixem) June 9, 2014
On the other end of the court, James was clearly the best player throughout the game. The two-time Finals MVP put together a stat sheet that showed his brilliance on the court, but he made the best decision of the game when it counted.
Driving with less than a minute remaining, James dished the ball out to Chris Bosh for an open three-pointer. Bosh only had two attempts from behind the arc during the game but made the move worth it for James after coming up short in a similar situation against the Indiana Pacers earlier in the playoffs.
Ray Allen, normally the Heat's clutch three-point artist down the stretch, spoke about Bosh's preparation for the moment, per Miami's official account:
Allen on Bosh’s go-ahead 3-pointer: “We have guys who practice their shooting all the time. When the time comes, we trust them.”— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) June 9, 2014
While James is arguably the best player on the court every time he takes the court, Bosh has certainly served his role in the team's success over the years. Coach Erik Spoelstra noted just how crucial Bosh is to the team, via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
Erik Spoelstra on Chris Bosh: "With us, arguably our most important player and it’s not just because of that shot."— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) June 9, 2014
Who ya got?
After regaining the momentum from San Antonio following a crazy opening game, the Heat will once again prove to be too much in Miami. With a confident Bosh, healthy James and resilient Dwyane Wade ready to pounce, the Heat will take the lead for the first time in the series.
While the Spurs will no doubt play much better in the fourth quarter, the Heat's talent will reign supreme in the best-of-seven series. If it comes down to a final shot again, Miami has more than enough options to take care of San Antonio on Tuesday night.
Prediction: Heat 105, Spurs 101
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