San Antonio turned Game 3 into a clinic on how basketball is supposed to be played. They didn't miss a shot for 10 game minutes - which was about 20 real minutes - and shot 76% in the first half, an NBA Finals record.
Yet Miami still managed to make a game of it, cutting a 25-point second quarter lead down to single digits in the start of the fourth quarter, but the Spurs responded with a run of their own for the 111-92 victory.
As fantastic as San Antonio's performance was, it was still just one game, and they're only up 2-1. The Heat can bring the series back to level pegging if they make a few adjustments and, you know, the Spurs miss once in a while.
So what are the things that will decide Game 4?
Leonard was the one who got everything started for San Antonio in that historic first quarter. He scored 18 points combined in Games 1 & 2, and broke out for 13 in that opening quarter alone in Game 3 (Leonard finished the game with a career-high 29).
But the biggest difference - other than him making everything - was how decisive he was. If he had some space from the three-point line, he was going to let it fly. If his defender made a mistake, he was going to drive to the basket.
Leonard is a laid-back guy by nature, but he adds a whole different element to the Spurs' offense when he's aggressive like that. He's their only athletic wing player that can shoot from the outside and finish around the rim - everyone else is either a shooter or a post player.
We saw just how much impact he can have on a defense in Game 3, which opens up holes his teammates can exploit for easy layups or open threes. That Kawhi needs to show up for them to win Game 4.
2) Whoever wins the turnover battle wins the game
What makes San Antonio's Game 3 that much more impressive is that the Heat actually didn't play that bad. They shot over 50% from the field, 48% from behind the three-point line, and were about even in the rebounding battle.
The biggest difference is that they turned the ball over 20 times, which the Spurs turned into 23 points.
San Antonio's offense is good enough already, but giving them that many easy points - and letting them get hot that easily - is a recipe for disaster.
The Spurs somehow survived a 23-turnover night in Game 1 thanks to incredible shooting (and LeBron missing the fourth quarter), but both teams limited their turnovers in Game 2, which is why that contest was so close.
If someone holds a significant turnover advantage in Game 4, they'll win because of the easy buckets they can get off of those turnovers.
3) The first six minutes of the game will be crucial
Miami desperately needs to win tonight - they absolutely can NOT afford to go back to San Antonio down 3-1. They need to play with urgency, desperation, and intensity right from the jump and make an early statement.
The Spurs took the crowd at American Airlines arena totally out of the game with their incredible start, which helped them keep momentum throughout the whole first half. The Heat can't let that happen. They need to be the aggressors and dictate the action.
Everyone expects Miami to be able to answer the bell and even the series at 2-2 - everyone except for the Spurs.
If San Antonio takes the early lead, the Heat may start to get a little uneasy and take unnecessary risks that could be detrimental. They need to grab the momentum early to give themselves the best chance to win and keep the crowd in the game.Back to the NBA Newsfeed