The start of Game 2 of the
NBA Finals reminded me of the start of the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of
horse racing's Triple Crown. Just like the horses, the Spurs and Heat came out
of the gate sprinting!
This looked nothing like what
you would expect from two defensive-minded teams playing for a Championship.
To see the Spurs pushing the ball up the floor, even after made baskets, was surprising
and fun to watch. At one point, I thought the Spurs were going to score over 30
points in the quarter.
Then, after scoring 26
points and building a seven-point lead, reality set in and the pace
of the game slowed. Miami's defense improved and the Spurs FG% dropped
accordingly, leading to a tied game at the half. Once again, what is always
referred to as "playoff basketball" took over.
That means the
officials allowed excessive physical play by the defense, resulting in
less offensive success. I have always disliked this approach to playoff games.
Being able to push, hold and bang an offensive player takes NO skill or talent.
In essence, the officials are allowing less skilled players to have an impact
on the game. Due to this approach to officiating, great players must elevate
their game in order to overcome this type of defense.
Well, that is exactly
what LeBron did starting in the second quarter when he scored 11 points to
prevent the Spurs from extending their 11-point lead early in that period.
James continued his outstanding play in the third quarter pouring in 14
points in yet another surprisingly fast-paced
Showing no effects of
his cramping in Game 1, the future Hall of Famer scored 22 points in the
second half, lead his team in rebounding with 10 and was responsible for the
assist to Bosh on the go ahead 3-pointer with 1:18 to
Once again the Spurs'
bench totally outplayed Miami's, outscoring them 37-12, but in this game, the
Heat starters outplayed the starting five of the Spurs by a score of 86-59.
I thought there were
four critical times in the game when the Spurs failed to
capitalize. The first was when the Spurs led 26-17 late in the first period and
then turned the ball over on their next three possessions. The
second was in the third quarter when leading 62-56 and they
couldn't contain LeBron. James scored eight points in less than a minute
to erase the lead. The third time was halfway through the fourth
quarter when Parker and Duncan missed four straight free throws that
could have increased their lead to six points. The fourth and final
time was late in the fourth quarter when, with a minute to play and just
after the three by Bosh to give the Heat a lead they never
relinquish, Manu made a bad pass to Duncan, who was open on a cut to
the hoop. That hoop would have tied the game and who knows what might have
So, for the sixth time
since LeBron has been a member of the Heat, his team has won Game 2 in
a series after losing Game 1. Very impressive.
As for my reference to
the Belmont Stakes, in this race the star horse (LeBron) didn't lose and
the chance for the "Three Peat" is alive and well as Miami now has
earned the home-court advantage. Now they just have to win at home three
times, which in this series is easier said than done. I can hardly wait until Tuesday night.