by Ryne Nelson / @slaman10
What’s up SLAM fam! Maurice Bobb and I are back at the AT&T Center for Game 4 of the 2013 NBA Finals. It’s been rainy and humid the past two days in San Antonio, but Spurs fans haven’t stopped celebrating the Game 3 blowout win against the Heat. It’s do-or-die for Miami tonight, so keep it locked as we prepare for what’s sure to be another thriller.
Arriving at the arena about 90 minutes ago in a camo vest, LeBron James is ready to go to war tonight. He vowed to be better after turning in one of his all-time worst Playoff performances on Tuesday night. LBJ is shooting just 39 percent in the Finals, but expect him to lead an inspired Heat team tonight.
The Heat are just the fourth team in history without a 20-point scorer in any of its first three games of an NBA Finals (the first since the ’81 Celtics, second in the last 60 years). Trying to turn things around tonight, the Heat will be in their black uniforms.
Miami’s lone bright spot in Game 3, Mike Miller, who’s missed only one shot this series, is rumored to replace Udonis Haslem in the starting unit to help Miami spread the floor. Coach Erik Spoelstra, though, is keeping his mouth shut.
“I don’t know, there’s been wild rumors. My phone has been texting off the hook,” Spo said before the game. “Everywhere I go in this arena everybody is asking me about the lineup. I guess you guys know something I don’t know.”
We do know that Tony Parker will be in the starting lineup after straining his hamstring in the third quarter of Game 3. We’ll see what impact he has without being full strength.
Danny Green, the leading scorer in the 2013 NBA Finals at 18.7 ppg, lit up the Heat for 27 in Game 3 and went 5-5 from the land of plenty in Game 2. No. 4 t-shirts are front and center of every Champs and Foot Locker in town. The Spurs have great success when he’s hot (26-4 when he’s scored 13+ points this season), so they’ll need him active tonight to push the series to 3-1.
Crucial to the Spurs’ success has been the defensive play of Tiago Splitter. Get this: With him on the court, the Spurs are allowing just 90.4 points per 100 possessions to the Heat; with him off, they’re allowing 117.5 points/100 possessions.
As well as San Antonio has played on both sides of the ball; remember, the last time the Heat lost two games in a row was five months ago.
We’ll be back right before tip-off, as Sebastian de la Cruz returns to sing the National Anthem. The San Antonio born-and-raised 11-year-old with “the golden voice” wowed the crowd before Game 3, and I’m glad he’s back for a repeat performance. Let’s go!
• Tim Duncan puts in the first two points of the game, and this is what it looks like from our seats up in the rafters.
• Mike Miller missed his first shot of the game—second for the series. The Heat are hoping to spread the floor early with him in the game.
• LeBron James, who didn’t shoot a free-throw in Game 3, gets to the line with just over two minutes into the first quarter. He splits the pair.
• Tony Parker’s hamstring seems fine early on. He’s been able to get into the lane with ease from jump.
• The Spurs are shooting 75 percent (3-3 from three), and the Heat are connecting at just a 20 percent clip. A Kawhi Leonard triple puts San Antonio up by double-digits.
• Manu Ginobili is due to go off right about now, right?
• The Big Three all have to show up tonight. Paging Chris Bosh…
• LeBron is very impressive in transition. He’s hit 3-4 from the field, and all were attempted in the paint.
* The King is feeling it. He knocks down consecutive mid-range jumpers on Leonard and Matt Bonner to put the Heat up four.
• Heat up 29-26 after 12 minutes of play. The Big Three combined for 23 of the Heat’s 29 points. An aggressive LeBron is making all the difference. Miami has forced 6 turnovers and is shooting a stifling 61.1 percent.
• Dwyane Wade leads Miami’s second unit to start the quarter, with a block, assist, rebound and a field goal on consecutive possessions.
• Tiago Splitter gets his shot blocked twice in two minutes and suddenly that LeBron block is seems a bit less impressive.
• LeBron barrels over Gary Neal in the post with his shoulder. The crowd erupts.
• Miller’s defense is killing the Heat. With the Big Three going, he’s nothing but a liability in this game.
• Ginobili picks up his third personal as Ray Allen kicks him in the groin, starting a not-so-nice chant directed at the refs.
• Both LeBron and Wade are shooting 6-9 for 13 and 14 points, respectively. They’ve almost reached their scoring output for Game 3 mid-way through the second quarter.
• Parker assists on a Duncan layup and a Leonard four-foot hook shot to bring the Spurs within five, 41-36 with 5:03 remaining.
• A Chris Bosh layup makes it 47-38 with just under three minutes to play in the half.
• But it’s Boris Diaw time! The Spurs backup knocks down seven points to lead the Spurs on a 11-0 run to end the quarter.
• Sorry Bosh, but this could only happen to you.
• The Heat go into the half with no three-point makes. The Spurs have no offensive boards. LeBron and Parker each have 15, and we’re knotted at 49-49.
• These Flat-land BMX tricks aren’t half-bad for halftime. We’ll be right back, folks!
• LeBron passed Hakeem Olajuwon during the second quarter for 10th all-time on the post-season scoring list. Respect.
• With a 17-foot jumper on the first possession, LeBron already has more baskets (eight) than he did in each of the previous three Finals games.
• Danny Green’s been relatively quiet on the offensive end, but he’s 2-2 from beyond the arc. The Spurs need more of him in this game.
• A Mario Chalmers three and LeBron’s first transition dunk of the game put the Heat up 67-61 with five minutes to go in the quarter.
• And with that dunk, LeBron becomes the first Heat player to reach 20 points in the 2013 NBA Finals. Seriously.
• Leonard drives to the cup for an awesome and one. Not so much as a smile on his face afterward to celebrate. He knocks down the free throw to put the Spurs back within three, 66-69.
• Chalmers knocks down a triple from the right wing to match his previous three from the left.
• Like the cold-blooded scorer that he is, Gary Neal knocks down a three to put the Spurs within three, 73-76.
• Wade comes right back with an and one drive to the rim to quiet the crowd. He’s played fantastic all night.
• On the very next play, DG4 knocks down a wide-open three to bring the Spurs back within three, 76-79.
• The Heat get two second-chance shots on the ensuing possession off of big offensive rebounds from Wade and LeBron. The King lays it up among the trees to put the Heat up five, 81-76.
• Ray Allen sinks a big three to put the Heat up eight, but Gary Neal knocks down a 28-footer from no-man’s land on the next possession. Cold Blooded.
• The Heat have only six turnovers on the night. Wade is playing like he’s 24. And the Spurs are playing discombobulated offense. 86-79 with just under nine minutes to play.
• And that’s about as pretty as it gets. Wade steals a pass from Green and takes it the length of the court for a one-handed jam. Vintage night here from DWade.
• Wade has scored on three consecutive possessions. He’s been able to dominate the game without LeBron in the lineup.
• Sending it out to all their haters, Wade and connect on an over-the-head pass for an easy layup to put the Heat up 11, 94-83.
• Sinking two free throws, Bosh has a 20 and 10 double-double—by far and away his best game of the Finals. The entire Big Three now has hit the 20-point plateau.
• A 20-foot jumper from LeBron puts the Heat up 15 and the game pretty much out of reach for the Spurs.
• And it’s garbage time for the final four minutes for the Spurs. Miami’s going to even the series up at 2-2.
• Ginobili’s game is starting to catch up to his bald spot. He’s 1-5 for 5 points and 4 fouls in 25 minutes.
• The Heat keep in the Big Three despite a 15-point lead.
• And that’ll do it! LeBron scores on the final three Heat possessions to close it out. 109-93, Heat.
We’re not going to see the clincher in San Antonio, but we’re going to see a monster Game 5. Maurice Bobb will be back with another live-blog on Sunday!