The 2014 NBA Finals are knotted at one game apiece, as the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have their sights set on sending off the NBA season with a competitive series.
Games 1 and 2 of this series were strikingly different. San Antonio dominated Game 1—AC shutdown and all—to take care of Miami handily. Game 2 was a tight one that the Heat wound up winning by two thanks to same late-game heroics from Chris Bosh.
What will Game 3 have in store?
We obviously won't know until the action unfolds, but I have some predictions of my own. Below you'll find them, along with a viewing schedule for the game.
|2014 NBA Finals Game 3|
|San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat||9 p.m.||ABC|
Spurs Will Find Answer for Chris Bosh
Bosh was the reason why the Heat won Game 2. He nailed a corner three very late in the contest and also delivered a beauty of a bounce pass to Dwyane Wade following that three. The Heat won by two because of Bosh's clutch play.
Overall, Bosh has been solid this series. He has 18 points in each game, along with 12 total rebounds and three total assists. He's 4-of-6 from deep and 13-of-22 from the field overall.
The Spurs need to limit his effectiveness in Game 3. As Bosh goes, the Heat go. To win an important Game 3, San Antonio needs to give Bosh different looks. His ability to pop out and hit from deep makes it difficult for Tim Duncan to guard him, but a guy like Boris Diaw should be able to handle the job.
If Diaw takes care of Bosh, then Kawhi Leonard can focus on LeBron James and Duncan can focus on the other big man playing alongside Bosh.
I think Diaw gets the job done against Bosh in Game 3, holding him to less than 50 percent shooting and under 15 points.
Heat Will Run Offense Through Dwyane Wade
James led the offense in the first two games. He dropped 25 in Game 1 and 35 in Game 2. Leonard has been responsible for defending him, but James forced him to foul out in Game 2 and then went to work on Diaw.
Leonard will play more conservatively on defense against James, but that's not to say he won't play physically. He'll just choose his spots better. With that being the case, the Miami offense will have to run through someone else.
That guy will be Dwyane Wade.
Wade, the king of the flop, was just decent in Game 2. He scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting with seven rebounds and four assists. It was actually a more well-rounded line than the 19 points, three boards and two dimes he posted in Game 1.
That said, we've yet to see the best of Wade in this series. I think it'll come in Game 3 with the pressure on James. James will look to set up his teammates rather than score. With Diaw on Bosh, Wade will be the go-to guy.
Long gone are the days of Wade dropping 30-plus in the postseason, but I think he'll go for 25 and eight rebounds in Game 3. He'll shoulder the offensive load.
Spurs Will Bring Back 4th-Quarter Dominance
The Spurs didn't do well during the fourth quarter in Game 2. Gregg Popovich spoke about the poor play, via Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:
We didn’t take advantage of things, we made bad decisions. The ball stuck to us. We tried to do it individually and we’re not good enough to do that. It’s how we have to score. We can’t put it in somebody’s hands and have them create everything for us. It’s got to be a group effort and we didn’t do that.
This came after an astounding fourth-quarter effort in Game 1:
So which team will show up in the fourth quarter of Game 3?
After Popovich's comments, it's clear that he'll be focusing on staying mentally tough leading up to the game. This will ensure that his players don't rush things and make sloppy mistakes in the final 12 minutes of Game 3.
After Duncan and Co. essentially handed the 2013 NBA Finals to the Heat with a horrible performance in Game 6, Duncan will make sure another collapse doesn't happen that late in this series. The first step to making sure it doesn't happen is improving in earlier fourth quarters.
I think they'll get back on track in Game 3.