(AP) Satisfied but shaken, Spurs bring NBA Finals home
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
On a day of rest at the NBA Finals, Tim Duncan had work to do.
Not only was he admittedly awful in Game 2, he had never been so bad on this stage. He shot 3 for 13 from the field for nine points, posting finals career lows in scoring, field goal percentage and field goals made, according to STATS.
The three-time finals MVP made only 11 of 32 shots in Miami and knows he must be better if the San Antonio Spurs are going to win their fifth title in five finals appearances.
The teams took Monday off, with the series resuming Tuesday night. The Spurs also will host Game 4 on Thursday and Game 5 on Sunday.
The finals were once as much a part of June as the heat in this city deep in the heart of Texas. San Antonio won four titles in a nine-year span starting in 1999, but hasn’t hosted a game in the NBA’s championship round since the Spurs took a 2-0 lead over LeBron James and Cleveland in 2007.
Here comes James again, needing to win one here _ which hasn’t been easy for Miami _ and not concerned that the finals’ 2-3-2 format now gives the advantage to the Spurs.
The Heat are just 3-22 in San Antonio, though they did win this year even while James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers sat out the late-season meeting.
James had no cause for concern after Game 2, which validated his belief that he can depend on his teammates until he gets rolling, as he did late in the third quarter and well into the fourth.
But a little doubt seemed to creep into the Spurs’ Big Three, unusual for a group that has been there, done that.
The Spurs took home-court advantage away from Miami, but no momentum after the reigning champions took them apart Tuesday.
Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have teamed for 99 postseason victories together, second-most in NBA history, and the trio is well aware of how quickly things can change in the playoffs.
They changed really quickly in this series, about the time it took James to turn Tiago Splitter’s dunk attempt into a blocked shot and an instant finals highlight.
Parker managed only five baskets in 14 attempts while making five turnovers, and Ginobili had three of the Spurs’ 17 turnovers that led to 19 points Sunday, after the team tied a finals low with four turnovers in a Game 1 victory.
The Spurs, like every other team in the NBA, know there’s no way to beat the Heat with that kind of ball handling.
Big Three against Big Three provided plenty of buildup to the series, and Ginobili said the Spurs stand little chance of winning if their trio plays poorly.
But James, having seen the Heat not have enough when they were largely just he, Wade and Chris Bosh two years ago, insists his current team is deep enough to do big damage even when it doesn’t come from the big names.
The Spurs are shooting just 41 percent and averaging 88 points in the series, perhaps lucky to not be down 2-0, and realize they needed to be much sharper when they got back home.