Who has the better Big Three? It did not matter Tuesday as the Spurs took a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals by beating the Heat 113-77 in San Antonio. The rest of the San Antonio Spurs beat the rest of the Miami Heat 88-34, as Danny Green and Gary Neal combined to hit 13 of 19 three-pointers to help the Spurs shatter the NBA Finals record with 16 total three-pointers in the third biggest blowout in Finals history.
It was a Heat reserve, Mike Miller, who kept the Heat close for just over a half with five of five three-point shooting, but the Spurs shattered the record early in the fourth quarter.
James had finally erupted to score nine points in 90 seconds to cut the Spurs lead to 76-63 with six seconds left in the third quarter, then Neal and Green took over. The Spurs entered the fourth quarter with 10 three pointers on the night.
The Heat had a strong defensive stand on the first possession of the quarter, including a rejection by Bosh, but then Neal got the 30 feet from the basket with the shot clock expiring and buried a three-pointer to make it 81-63.
On the next position he hit from 26 feet to make it 12 three-pointers. After a lay-up by Green and dunk by Kawhi Leonard, Green went beyond the arc and hit a shot to extend the run to 15-0 and make it 91-63 on the 13th three-pointer.
Dwyane Wade finally broke the run, but Green responded with another three-pointer on the next trip to tie the Final record with 14.
Neal finally missed a three-pointer, only to have Green come back and hit two in a row to give the Spurs a 94-65 lead, the three-pointer record on 16 of 30 shooting including six of seven to that quarter.
The Spurs missed two late three-pointers including one by Tracy McGrady, who received a standing ovation as he finally was able to appear in an NBA Finals game after missing seasons with an injury after a great career in which he could never win a title.
It was the second straight game the Spurs have hit half of their three-pointers, while they were content to smother the Heat on drives and contest three-pointers gambling that their threes could easily top the Heat’s mid-range jumpers.
As noted in the current print edition of ESPN the Magazine, the average three-point shot results in 1.2 points, while the average play at the rim also results in 1.2 points. Plays in between result in 0.79 points on average, and the Spurs defense is based on eventually winning on the law of averages by working to do one or the other as often as possible while making the opponent put up mid-range shots as often as possible.
If they make James and Wade continue to try to beat them with mid-range jumpers with tough contests near the rim like the one pictures, the Spurs could give McGrady his first title.
The Spurs big three for the night was actually Green with 27, Neal with 24 and Kawhi Leonard with 14 while the normal Big Three all deferred.
Wade (team high 16 points, five assists and four steals) and Chris Bosh (10 rebounds) did give James support, but James himself started two of 14 from the floor before hitting five of his last seven.
Game 4 is in San Antonio on Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT, and the Heat will try to tie the series to guarantee they at least get back to Miami for Game 6.