SAN ANTONIO (CBSMiami) – For almost seven quarters the San Antonio Spurs did something that 28 other teams couldn’t do; they figured out a way to bottle up NBA MVP LeBron James. But, the Spurs’ best efforts couldn’t shut down LeBron completely.
Mainly on the back of Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs shut down James to the tune of 17.5 points per game. The Spurs have also limited LeBron to his lowest point totals in the postseason during the finals.
Logic would say that based on those numbers, San Antonio would be heading back to Texas with a 2-0 lead in the series. But that’s far from the case.
During the late third and early fourth quarters of Game 2, LeBron awoke from his 2013 NBA Finals slumber and dictated the game to the Spurs even without scoring a lot of points. James’ awe-inspiring block of Tiago Splitter and thunderous dunk on the other end helped punctuate a 30 plus point run for the Heat late in the game.
For San Antonio, they have faced the same problem that all other 28 teams faced during the regular season: double-team and focus on LeBron and you allow the rest of the Heat to maul you; leave a defender allow on LeBron and you take your risks with him exploding for 40 points.
“Obviously, LeBron is unbelievable,” Parker said after the 103-84 loss to the Heat that evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. “He’s going to score. But right now the other players, they are playing great, too. So we can’t have both.”
Still, the Spurs have enjoyed a lot of success against the runaway freight train that is LeBron James. During the regular season, James shot 56.5 percent from the field and made more than 100 3-point shots. His improved shooting and untouchable passing ability made him almost unstoppable for most of the year.
But against San Antonio in the first two games of the NBA Finals, James has shot just 42.4 percent from the floor and 25 percent from behind the three-point line.
“I know I attract a lot of attention,” James said. “This team has been set up the right way where when I do attract attention, we have guys that can make plays.”
Still, San Antonio has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at James through two games and he’s only getting stronger as the series keeps going.
The realization was creeping in that they’ve done as well as can possibly be expected against the league’s brightest star, and still they need to do so much more to stop James and the Heat from running away from them the way they have run away from everyone else for the last two years.
Whether San Antonio can once again succeed where every other team has failed will only be known over the next three games.
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