After one of the greatest offensive halves in league history, the San Antonio Spurs will try to put a stranglehold on the NBA Finals when they visit AmericanAirlines Arena for Game 4 against the Miami Heat.
The Spurs shot a Finals record 75.8 percent from the floor in the first half in Tuesday's Game 3. They blitzed the Heat during that first 24 minutes, building a 25-point lead at one point and posting a 111-92 victory.
San Antonio registered 41 first-quarter points and led 71-50 after the first half. The Heat stormed back a bit in the third, but the Spurs were too much. They reclaimed homecourt advantage and snapped Miami's 11-game home winning streak in the postseason dating back to Game 1 of last year's Finals.
"We think we can win on every court. We have the best record on the road, and we love playing on the road. Sometimes I feel like we play better on the road than at home," Spurs guard Tony Parker said after practice on Wednesday. "So I don't think we had doubts that we can win in Miami. Now we realized it was a crazy game and we're not going to play like that every night, that's for sure. But hopefully we can keep playing well."
Kawhi Leonard was the hero for the Spurs on Tuesday with a career-high 29 points. Leonard, who had scored just 18 points over the first two games of the Finals, shot 10-of-13 from the floor and went 6-of-7 from the free throw line for the Spurs.
"I was focused on both ends the first two games. I just got in some foul trouble. Wasn't really able to get into a rhythm, and Heat did a good job by playing aggressive on defense," said Leonard. "I just made shots last minute."
In addition to his offensive output, Leonard served as the primary defender against LeBron James, who supplied 22 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals, but committed seven of Miami's 20 turnovers in the setback.
Danny Green added 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor, while Parker and Tim Duncan contributed 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the victory.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made a change to the starting lineup prior to Game 3, inserting Boris Diaw for Tiago Splitter. The decision paid off as Diaw didn't post flashy numbers (nine points, three assists), but he helped facilitate the offense.
For the Heat, the loss was bad and ruined a chance at a perfect home record during the postseason, but all is not lost. Miami is 13-0 following a loss in the playoffs dating back to 2012.
"You're always on edge in the postseason, but I don't want to be concerned at this point," James said after practice on Wednesday. "For us we have to make the adjustments. We owned what we had to do today in the film session and we'll come in with a better mindset tomorrow. But that doesn't mean it results in a win, too. But we have to play with a little bit more focus and a little bit more challenge."
Dwyane Wade finished with 22 points, while Rashard Lewis went 4-of-5 from 3- point range en route to 14 points for the Heat. Wade, playing in his 150th career postseason game, surpassed Dirk Nowitzki (3,455) for 17th place on the NBA's all-time postseason scoring list.
Chris Bosh had a slow night with only nine points thanks to just 12 touches. Mario Chalmers continued to struggle badly. He finished with just two points and has 10 for the whole series.
"You want him to know we still have faith in him, trust in him and we need him," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Wednesday. "And he's been able to play through tough times and been able to bounce back."
Spoelstra indicated no lineup changes were forthcoming.
The winner of Game 3 of a tied NBA Finals series has gone on to win the series 83 percent of the time (30-6). However, the Spurs won last year's Game 3 with the set tied 1-1 and went on to lose in seven games to the Heat.
Game 5 will be Sunday night back in San Antonio.