In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat faded down the stretch as the San Antonio Spurs went on to win the opening contest. On Sunday night, however, it was the Spurs who disappeared late instead.
The Heat’s stars were too much for the Spurs in the fourth quarter as Miami tied up the series with a 98-96 win on the road.
Early in the game, San Antonio looked poised to replicate their series-opening win as they held an 11-point lead in the second quarter. As the game went on, however, it became apparent that the Heat weren’t going away. By halftime the game was tied, and after three quarters, Miami trailed by only one.
Unlike Game 1, the Heat were the ones turning up the defense in the final period.
After a back and forth quarter, San Antonio took a 93-92 lead on a Tony Parker three-point shot with only 2:26 to play in the game. Little did the Spurs know, it would be the last meaningful points they would score in the quarter.
Fueled by a six-point run by (who else?) LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, the Heat took control of the game, and home court advantage. In fact, it was those three that led the way in the entire quarter – the trio scored 16 of the team’s 21 points. Manu Ginobili scored a late three-pointer at the end of the quarter, but it meant little as the Spurs still came up a bucket short.
The Spurs’ shot selection near the end of the game was also a bit puzzling. Despite a back and forth game in the final quarter, six of San Antonio’s final ten shots were from beyond the arc. Making 40 percent of their shots from that range, the Spurs were the best three-point shooting team in the NBA in the regular season. Still, in a close game, San Antonio may have been better served by looking for higher-percentage shots.
Down the stretch, the Spurs uncharacteristically fell apart. Specifically, it was the aforementioned Ginobili who was the team’s biggest goat late in the game. After Parker’s shot to give San Antonio the lead, Ginobili missed two three-pointers and had a turnover as the Heat made the necessary shots to win the game. The guard had a strong game with 19 points in only 28 minutes, but surely would like to have those final few minutes back.
San Antonio really had a chance to make things extremely difficult for the Heat. A second straight win at home would have forced the defending champs to win four out of five games and that may have been even too much for Miami. As they’ve done so many other times with their backs to the wall, however, the Heat responded and now have home court advantage in the series.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Miami.