MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was a historic night at the American Airlines Arena on Tuesday, just not the kind of history that Heat fans were hoping for. The San Antonio Spurs shot the lights out, shooting a higher percentage during the first half of Game 3 then the NBA has ever seen in a Finals game.
Now that we’ve had a day to digest how everything went down on Tuesday night, it’s a little easier to take a step back and look closer at all the different storylines that have stemmed from the Spurs dominant 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat.
Spurs Explosive Shooting– From the early stages of Game 3 it was clear that San Antonio had a plan to be extremely aggressive on the offensive side of the court. They began the game by making eight of their first nine shots and never took their foot off the gas from that point on. By the end of the first quarter the Spurs had already scored 41 points and it took Miami until there was 4:27 to go in the opening half to reach that same number.
At one point in the second quarter the Spurs were shooting an incredible 90.5 percent from the field. They finished the half with 71 points on 75.8 percent shooting, breaking an NBA Finals record for field-goal percentage in one half.
“They jumped on us and they were the aggressor tonight,” said LeBron James following the game. “They had us on our heels from the beginning. This is something that at this point in the season shouldn’t happen but they were more aggressive than us.”
By the time Miami began slowing down the Spurs offense the game was already getting out of hand. The Heat came out after halftime with a renewed vigor and held San Antonio to just 15 points in the third quarter, reducing the deficit to seven points with just under two minutes remaining.
That was as close as the Heat would get. By the end of the third quarter San Antonio had built their lead back up to 11 and continued to pull away, stretching their advantage to 17 by the halfway point of the fourth quarter.
“They came out at a different gear than what we were playing at and it just seemed we were on our heels [for] the most part of the first half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra explained. “When we started to get to a different gear in the third quarter it was just tough to change the energy of the game.”
Kawhi Leonard Dominates on Both Ends of the Court– One of the narratives heading into Game 3 was the play of Kawhi Leonard. He has been tasked with covering LeBron for the majority of the Finals and it appeared that the tough defensive assignment was affecting his ability to produce on the offensive side of the floor.
Leonard scored 18 points and added just four rebounds in Game’s 1 and 2 combined while his defensive assignment (LeBron James) scored 60 points on 58.9 percent shooting in the first two games. Leonard also fouled out of Game 2 for the first time in his NBA career, a total of 243 games.
Those struggles caught the attention of the national media between Game’s 2 and 3, though they were quick to point out that Leonard had a hard time during the first two games of the NBA Finals last season as well. A bounce-back game was expected and boy oh boy did Leonard deliver.
Kawhi scored 29 points in Game 3, the most he had ever scored in an NBA game regardless of regular season or playoffs. He did it while taking just thirteen shots, making ten of them, and going 6 of 7 from the foul line.
“I was just in attack mode trying to be aggressive early and knocking down a couple shots got me going,” Leonard said after the game. “I was able to play tonight. I didn’t get in foul trouble early. I got in a rhythm and my teammates got me involved.”
Leonard also got into a groove defensively as the game went on. He was all over LeBron James every time the superstar touched the ball and after a while the constant hampering began to take effect.
James scored 14 points on five of six shooting in the first quarter but had a very difficult time from that point on. Leonard limited James to just eight shots for the remainder of the game, holding LeBron to eight points and zero trips to the foul line from the second quarter on.
Leonard also contributed to James turning the ball over seven times, the most ever for LeBron in his 25 career NBA Finals games.
Spurs Fans Not Happy With Charles Barkley– Throughout his basketball career, both as a player and now as a television analyst, Charles Barkley has had a history with the San Antonio Spurs and their fans. The ongoing feud found its way into the spotlight recently when Barkley made some not-so-nice comments about the women of San Antonio while he was covering the Spurs-Thunder series for TNT.
“There’s some big ol’ women down there,” joked Barkley. “That’s a gold mine for Weight Watchers. Victoria is definitely a secret. They can’t wear no Victoria’s Secret down there.”
The response from the city of San Antonio hit on several fronts, from billboards to obesity awareness groups to Tim Duncan’s girlfriend, Vanessa Macias, wearing a shirt that said “Barkley Dont Know” while attending a game.
Barkley’s response to the courtside protest? “That woman ain’t from here. They flew her in from Dallas.”
That’s brings us back to this week where Sir Charles was at it again, this time during his first appearance on NBA TV’s Gametime pregame show on Tuesday night. While sitting alongside his TNT co-analyst Shaquille O’Neal, Barkley joked that he wanted to bury the hatchet with the people of San Antonio.
He then took out an orange bucket and said he wanted to begin collecting donations for “San Antonio’s air-conditioning fund.”
“It’s too hot to be down there by the little dirty old creek,” cracked Barkley. “I feel bad, all those big ol’ women sucked the air out of the arena and almost killed LeBron James.”
We’ll have to wait and see what kind of response Barkley’s latest comments get from the people of San Antonio, if any. Barkley hasn’t been in San Antonio since the Western Conference Finals ended and it’s doubtful that he makes his way back there while this quarrel remains ongoing.
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