As we all know, the San Antonio Spurs took a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat last night to give themselves a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. The Spurs rode a ridiculous shooting performance in which they set NBA Finals records by making 86.7% of their shots in the first quarter and 75.8% in the first half, opening up a 21-point halftime lead and withstanding a third quarter Heat rally to hold on for the victory.
When the Heat were trying to rallying last night, it felt like every single time they made a charge Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would call a timeout, calm his team down, and San Antonio would come out of the break and immediately make a play.
Simply put, the Spurs’ performance last night out of timeouts was incredible. Here’s a breakdown of what happened following every single timeout called in Game 3:
- First quarter, 7:22 to go: Mario Chalmers misses three, Boris Diaw hits jumper
- First quarter, 3:38 to go: Matt Bonner gets fouled, makes both free throws
- Second quarter, 9:52 to go: Danny Green steals ball from Dwyane Wade, makes layup
- Second quarter, 8:07 to go: LeBron James makes little runner, Diaw gets fouled and makes one of two
- Second quarter, 5:01 to go: Tim Duncan makes layup off feed from Tony Parker
- Second quarter, 1:31 to go: Manu Ginobili turns it over, Ray Allen misses three, Boris Diaw makes three
- Second quarter, 0:22 to go: Chris Bosh dunks, fouls Parker on other end, Parker makes both free throws
- Third quarter, 11:14 to go: Tony Parker misses jumper, Kawhi Leonard blocks Rashard Lewis, Leonard makes jumper
- Third quarter, 6:09 to go: Patty Mills makes layup
- Fourth quarter, 8:53 to go: Boris Diaw turns it over, fouls LeBron James, Norris Cole misses jumper, Kawhi Leonard dunks
- Fourth quarter, 5:39 to go: Manu Ginobili makes two free throws, Patty Mills makes diving steal, Manu Ginobili dunk
- Fourth quarter, 1:36 to go: Tony Parker makes two free throws
Total Points Scored Out of Timeouts:
San Antonio: 26
The numbers are pretty mind-blowing, considering that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is widely considered one of the top coaches in the game. We certainly would not say Popovich is coaching circles around him this series, but clearly Pop’s play calls out of the break—and his team’s execution—are easily overcoming whatever Spoelstra has thrown at the Spurs.
A major part of the problem for Miami last night was also execution. Both to the naked eye and on the stat sheet, Miami was incredibly sloppy with the ball; LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 12 turnovers, and Mario Chalmers played about as badly as a point guard can play. On offensive plays following timeouts, the Heat went 2-for-5 from the field with two turnovers, not the kind of conversion rate you want when you’ve just had time to talk over exactly what you’re going to do. Compare that with San Antonio, who following timeouts went 8-for-9 from the field and converted 9-of-10 free throw attempts.
Ultimately, what separated the teams last night (apart from the ridiculous shooting stats) is this play from Patty Mills in the fourth quarter. It came following a timeout, naturally, and perfectly encapsulated the urgency and intensity with which the Spurs played all 48 minutes:
Game 4 is an absolute must-win for Miami, who can ill-afford to go back to San Antonio trailing 3-1. To get a win and even up the series, they’ll need to do much better in situations where perfect, textbook offensive execution is required.
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