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Game 2 Rewind

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 offensive quarter. 

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 play. 

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 happened next.

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.

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