For the first time in the 2014 NBA Finals, there was some separation between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. Kawhi Leonard gave the Spurs a 2-1 series edge with his masterful performance in Game 3, so now the onus is on LeBron James and co. to even things up.
The good news for fans rooting to see a competitive series is that the Spurs shot out of their minds in Game 3, hitting 59.4 percent of their shots from the floor and 45 percent from three-point range. A duplication of those numbers seems like a long shot.
Another highlight of how well the Spurs played on Monday night was how they avoided a prolonged slump early in the game, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com noted on Twitter.
Whatever is in store for this so far unpredictable series, it's sure to be fascinating to watch. Here is a look at the remaining schedule for the Finals and updated odds for Game 4.
|2014 NBA Finals Schedule - Spurs vs. Heat|
|Game, Date||Start Time (ET)||Network||Location|
|Game 4: Thursday, June 12||9 p.m.||ABC||AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami, Florida)|
|Game 5: Sunday, June 15||8 p.m.||ABC||AT&T Center (San Antonio, Texas)|
|Game 6: Tuesday, June 17 (If Necessary)||9 p.m.||ABC||AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami, Florida)|
|Game 7:Friday, June 20 (If Necessary)||9 p.m.||ABC||AT&T Center (San Antonio, Texas)|
Game 4 Odds
|Point Spread||Miami (-4.5)|
Odds courtesy of Odds Shark as of 10 a.m. ET on June 11
It's interesting to see that the Heat are getting that much support in the point spread heading into Game 4 after the clinic San Antonio just put on.
Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated wrote that the first 17-plus minutes of Game 3 were essentially a team version—in this case, San Antonio—of having that Michael Jordan shoulder shrug vs. Portland in 1992 because you can't explain how everything is falling.
Of the 19 baskets, just one came from Duncan and none from Parker, a testament to the Spurs' disarming depth. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green poured in six buckets each, Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter two each, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw another apiece. They exploited Miami's squishy middle, driving inside and making eight field goals from point blank range, but they also rained six threes. They nailed 10 straight shots and went nearly 11 minutes without a miss.
The only reason we are giving Miami a chance is because of LeBron. No one else on the roster has stepped up their game to support the best player on the planet. Dwyane Wade has been solid but not nearly the superstar he used to be. Chris Bosh touched the ball 12 times in Game 3, which shouldn't happen for someone we include in the Big Three.
Mario Chalmers shouldn't be starting for a team in the NBA Finals right now. The Heat point guard has scored a total of 10 points with nine assists and six rebounds through three games.
Despite those gaping flaws, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Heat cover that 4.5-point spread because they outplayed the Spurs for most of Game 1—before LeBron left with cramps—and stole Game 2, thanks to LeBron's brilliant performance.
There's also no way the Spurs are able to duplicate what they did on offense again; it doesn't matter how soft the middle of Miami's defense is. Those were video game numbers being put up by a team that's not known for providing that kind of excitement on the floor.
Prediction: Heat 96, Spurs 94
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