If Stephen Curry were to have a fever dream, Game 3 is what it would look like.
With the AC turned up in AmericanAirlines Arena, the visiting San Antonio Spurs and hometown Miami Heat wowed the crowd with a shooting clinic. Ultimately, though, behind a complete team effort on both sides of the ball and a career night from Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs defeated the Heat 111-92.
Just how dialed in were the Spurs? They missed one field goal in the first quarter while amassing 41 points. At one point, they were 19-21 from the field, and they finished the opening half with a whopping 71 points. On the game, they shot 59 percent as a team, led by Kawhi Leonard’s 10-13 and Danny Green’s 7-8. Those totals made Miami’s 51.6 percent shooting, including 17-26 between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, look pedestrian.
Leonard’s feathery touch was particularly crucial. After making a name for himself in last year’s Finals, the third-year player from San Diego State struggled in the first two games of this year’s rematch. In an effort to seemingly get Leonard going, Coach Popovich inserted Boris Diaw into the Spurs’ starting lineup for Game 3. Suffice it to say, the gambit worked, as Leonard scored 16 in the first quarter. He would finish the game with a career-high 29.
Aside from the outstanding percentages and arrival of Leonard, Game 3 had other dream-like qualities as well. The Spurs led for the entire 48 minutes, running the margin up to 16 after one quarter and 21 after two. Still, despite the score the contest didn’t metastasize into a blowout, and when the Heat made it 81-74 late in the third quarter, the Spurs appeared to be on the precipice of a collapse of Game 6 proportions.
Finals history, however, did not repeat itself. Marco Belinelli nailed a timely three, to extend the lead back to 10, and the Spurs answered every Heat make with a momentum-swaying one of their own. The Heat would compound their defensive lapses with turnovers. They would finish the game with 20, many of them unforced.
For the Spurs, as it often is, it was a night of the non-stars. Danny Green chipped in 15 points and 5 steals; Boris Diaw added 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists; and Patty Mills had 5 points and 4 assists in 15 minutes. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan contributed 15 and 14 of their own.
Despite scoring 14 points in the first quarter, James couldn’t carry the Heat. He would finish with 22 points, 7 assists, 5 steals and 7 turnovers. Wade also had 22 points, and 5 turnovers. A suddenly resurgent Rashard Lewis provided somewhat of a spark, with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, but even his dead-eye stroke wasn’t to make up for the Spurs’ quick start.
Game 4 is set to take place in AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday night.