After playing in undesirable conditions in Game one, due to a malfunctioning air-conditioning unit, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat were well accommodated for tonight’s match-up. After being scrutinized heavily for leaving Game 1 due to cramping, LeBron James was of course the center of attention. This was meant to be a game of redemption for the all-world small forward. With the challenge set in place, Miami certainly answered it with a narrow victory over their opponents 98-96.
Not taking things lightly, San Antonio came out the gates swinging quick and early. The first quarter of the game saw Miami playing flustered, turning over the ball far too much and missing plenty of inexcusable shots. Chalk it up to early game jitters and simply lacking focus on their part. The opposite was in effect for San Antonio, who were unrelenting in the pressure they applied.
After setting the tone in Game one, Tony Parker continued his assault on Miami. His 12 points on five for nine shooting in the first half was just a taste of what he brought tot the table tonight. His contributions combined with the strong team play from the Spurs unit gave them a comfortable lead throughout the first quarter. The Spurs pretty much had Miami where they wanted them, as they kept them down by double-digits at one point.
Of course, there is something to be said about a team once they get too comfortable early on. The turnover issues that plagued Miami in the beginning started to affect San Antonio. Once the Heat realized that they were pretty good at something called defense, the game started to slow down in their favor. LeBron started plowing through the paint with relative ease, forcing Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw to adjust their assignments on him. Having James efficiently make shots was they key to disrupting the entire game plan for the Spurs.
Coach Popovich looked visibly disturbed at the Miami comeback, as the Spurs lead dwindled from 11 points to two, before eventually being tied as they went into the half 43-43.
Any criticisms that may have been aimed at James were dismissed once the third quarter rolled around. In the third, James put on a performance where it seemed like he just could not miss, as the reigning Finals MVP was a highlight reel in the quarter. Scoring 14 points on six for seven shooting in the third, the Spurs couldn’t contain him from any range on the floor. With 27 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals before the fourthth quarter, lack of toughness and mental strength were the least of LeBron’s issues.
Not to be outdone on their home floor, the Spurs managed to balance their act a bit more in the second half. Manu Ginobili, who appears to be campaigning for a Finals MVP nod picked up the slack for them again the offensive side. His unorthodox play-making kept the score favorably close for the Spurs, and it allowed their resilient leader Tim Duncan to maintain the momentum.
It should be noted that Duncan has been nothing but impressive in this series, as he has quietly put up game changing numbers in both games played. His 18 points and 15 boards has been indicative that Duncan isn’t going anywhere when this series wraps up.
There were a lot of questionable calls made in this game, but one constant was the amount of obvious flopping going on. Dwyane Wade had at least one very blatant flop in the second quarter, as well as LeBron himself. The Spurs also had their fair share, despite being able to act play theirs’ off a bit better. It will be interesting to see how harsh the NBA cracks down on this, if they choose to do so at all.
As the lead changed between the two teams, the role players on both respective teams started impacting the results heavy. The crucial missed free-throws from Parker and Duncan may have contributed to the Spurs loss late in the game.
As someone who played sparingly for the Heat throughout the season, Rashard Lewis has stepped up dramatically during this Finals run. As a starter he’s contributed in a way that Coach Spoelstra is surely proud of, providing a consistent long-range and defensive option for them. On the flip side of that it’s safe to say that the Spurs can count on Danny Green to explode every fourth quarter against the Heat. He brings a spark that usually ignites late in every game, that will benefit them greatly in the end.
Unfortunately, nothing San Antonio did could change the end result, as LeBron completed what he set out to do by clinching the win for Miami. His 35 point performance was exactly what his team needed to even the series up. His assist total was low by his standards, but a little selfishness on his part is exactly what Miami needed. San Antonio will now find themselves in hostile territory as the series heads to Miami, where the Heat will surely look to get a two-one lead on the series.