Culture of Hoops

NBA Finals Game 2: LeBron Adds a Defensive Play to his Highlight Reel

This was supposed to be LeBron’s game to dominate vengefully after the San Antonio Spurs pulled out a victory on the Miami Heat’s home court with Tony Parker’s miraculous bank shot (see it again).

The Heat won despite James not having a monstrous Game 2—only a near triple-double with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. At one point, the Heat managed to make this one look like a high school scrimmage.

Unlike my two colleagues—@DV140 and @FrankieBuckets—who predicted the Heat would take Game 2, my contrarian nature did not allow me to root for the obvious favorite. Almost always, unless the Brooklyn Nets are involved, I root for the underdog because a loss is expected and a victory is that much sweeter. And that is why I boldly hoped that the Spurs would win Game 2 of the NBA Finals and all but guarantee themselves the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Obviously this was very foolish of me. But men can dream, can’t they?

And it all started out so well.

Both sides were aggressive from the get-go. Seemingly, San Antonio was ready for the early energy that the Heat would bring and even jumped out to an early lead that they held for nearly three-fourths of the first quarter, eventually ending the quarter tied at 22.

I want to take this time to point out that there were a few moments in the first quarter where I thought the Heat were getting away with a bit more physical play than they should have. But what do I know? Plus, that Danny Green was three-for-three on his 3-point attempts in the first quarter gave me hope that things were going well for the Spurs (Green, by the way, went on to tie the NBA Finals record of five 3-point makes without a miss).

The second quarter brought with it a change of pace. The Heat jumped out to an early lead with the help of their role players, Mike Miller, Norris Cole and Chris Andersen, the latter at one point in the second quarter being the leading scorer on the team. The Spurs kept the game in reach with their own role-players picking up the slack. Tiago Splitter (more on him later), Gary Neal and another three-pointer by Green added to the buckets by Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in order to keep the Spurs toe-to-toe with the Heat.

(Let’s fast-forward to the end of the third-quarter)

The game remained fairly competitive throughout most of the third-quarter, up until a defensive three-second violation on Duncan—which in my mind was the turning point of the game, considering how clearly frustrated Duncan was with the call— that swung the tied score into a three-point advantage in Heat’s favor.

I can talk about the stretch where the Heat turned this game into a no-contest, where nearly every single shot was going in and when it looked like the Spurs were just a no-name opponent. But LeBron’s block on Tiago Splitter will be the play that people are going to talk about forever. Here it is again for your viewing enjoyment.

The question now is whether or not the Heat’s second-half riot in Game 2 will be enough propel them to take back home-court advantage back in Game 3. Just consider the Spurs have only lost one game throughout these playoffs.

And, by the way, I’m picking Spurs again.

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