Well, so much for keeping the home-court advantage for the defending Champions, the Miami Heat. Facing a devastating blitz by the San Antonio Spurs, who shot an all-time field-goal percentage record for a half in a Finals game at 75.8%, the Heat were blown out at home in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Giving up 40 points in the first quarter and 71 points in the first half is not quite the way to defend your property court.
I admired the Heat’s effort in the third quarter as they arrived on the scene playing with great intensity on both ends of the court and was able to slice the Spurs 21-point lead down seriously to seven. However, this really is where “The Deephole Syndrome” arrived to play. That is a term I created inside my broadcasting career to describe what happens to a group that falls behind by 20 or more points and makes a valiant attempt to have back to the overall game on numerous occasions.
In the 2nd quarter Miami was down by up to 25 points and then battled back to slice the deficit to 14 points before falling behind by 21 at the half. They expended a lot of energy to complete the first come back and then expended even more energy to produce the comeback in the third quarter. Eventually, the Heat just burned themselves out. They had scored 25 points in each of the first three quarters, but only 17 in the fourth.
If not for LeBron, Miami would’ve been even more humiliated in the first quarter because he scored 14 of their first 20 points. Unfortunately, he wound up with only 22 points, as did Dwyane Wade, who didn’t do much in the first half, but played well in the second. On the negative side, Chris Bosh was a non-factor, taking only four shots and scorning nine points. The Heat had only four fast break points and both stars, Wade and LeBron, combined for 12 of Miami’s 20 turnovers, with LeBron accounting for seven. Meanwhile, the Spurs finished with only 12 turnovers, a low total for them.
Kawhi Leonard, who’d struggled offensively in the first two games, was the catalyst for the Spurs offensive explosion. He had 18 points in the first half and finished with a career-high 29 points to lead all Spurs in scoring. He used an infinitely more aggressive mindset, which enabled him to put up those numbers.
The Heat now have to provide some serious thought to what just happened to them. This loss at home was their first in this year’s playoffs. They shot 52% from the field, 48% from three-point range and 75% from the free-throw line and lost by 19 at home. I’d believe that head coach Erik Spoelstra told his players that if they can put up those numbers during the others of these playoffs, they will win another Championship because the Spurs will not have another offensive performance of the magnitude.
Another interesting statistic is that for the 38th time in this season’s playoffs, the visiting team won. This is a new all-time record for road victories through the playoffs. If Miami wants to accomplish the infamous “Three-Peat”, they first must take care of business on Thursday and then hope that they may add to the new all-time record for road victories.