After 24 minutes of play, the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat played an incredibly contested game of basketball. Tony Parker was hitting unbelievable running bank shot after unbelievable running bank shot, and the Miami Heat – LeBron James included – were playing polished, ego-free, team-first basketball. But once the second half came, everything about Game 2 changed.
The second stanza couldn’t have been more of an example of opposites. Miami turned up the defensive pressure and the Spurs struggled to find the basket plus turned the ball over, finishing with 17 turnovers after only committing a record-tying four in Game 1. Lead by Chalmers, others outside of the Big Three started nailing shots as Ray Allen (13 points) and Mike Miller nailed three-pointers. And those defensive adjustments paid dividends – punctuated by an emphatic LeBron James swat of Tiago Splitter – the Heat would run away with a 103-84 win.
Nobody on either side provided many offensive fireworks. Mario Chalmers led all scorers with 19 points. For the Spurs, Danny Green made all six shots of shots, including five 3-pointers, and scored 17 points for the Spurs. Luckily for the Heat, their Big Three did provided the kind of balanced play that – when combined with stellar defense – led to their victory. James finished with 17 points, Chris Bosh chipped in 12 and Dwyane Wade 10. We can nitpick about the kind of stat sheets that superstars should be bringing to the table, but if basketball is a team sport, the Heat played nearly flawless team ball.
That wasn’t more apparent than on defense, where consistently strong help D made it difficult for any San Antonio player to look comfortable in the second half. Parker in particular had a difficult time finding his lanes against the physically overwhelming LeBron. Tim Duncan also had his share of struggles, going 3 of 13 and finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds. If San Antonio is going to avenge their loss in front of their fans in southern Texas – a very real scenario considering how much they have limited individually great performances from James and co. – players like Kawhi Leonard, Green and the ever-erratic Manu Ginobili are going to have to give Parker some offensive help on the perimeter.
P.S. – Thanks to everyone who joined in to make Game 2′s open thread a big success and a lot of fun. See you on Tuesday!