In a tight Game 2, the spotlight was back on LeBron but for the right reasons this time around.
Ryan Fox (@Spider_Fox87)
They say that Game 1 sets the pace of an NBA playoff series. If that is the case, then Game 2 sets the tone for the entire series. If you lose Game 1 but win Game 2, you’re still in the fight. But if you lose Game 1 and Game 2, then you are in the dreaded 0-2 hole and must scramble to stay alive. This was the case of the Miami Heat as they continued their 2014 NBA Finals match up against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs took Game 1 of the series of 110-95 as they outscored the Heat 36 to 17 in the final quarter of that game. But the focus wasn't on the Spurs’ victory. Rather the focus was Heat forward LeBron James and the fact he had to leave the game towards the end with leg cramps.
Now going into Game 2, the Spurs were looking to go up 2-0 over the Heat before the two head east to Miami to play the next 2 games of the series. The starting 5 for the Spurs was SF Kawhi Leonard, PF Tim Duncan, C Tiago Splitter, PG Tony Parker, and SG Danny Green. The Heat countered with their starting 5 of SF LeBron James, PF Rashard Lewis, C Chris Bosh, PG Mario Chalmers, and SG Dwayne Wade.
The Spurs started things off with the opening bucket at the 11:24 mark in the first period. However things got a little heated for the Spurs as starting SG Danny Green picked up two quick fouls so he ended up sitting early. But that only meant one thing and one thing only: Tim Duncan Time.
For the first 8 minutes of the game, Duncan led all scorers with 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting, while during that same LeBron James was having trouble just getting one, getting a meager 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting. However regardless of how each team’s star was performing, it was still a back and forth affair. At one point, things were tied up at 15-15 at the 4:54 mark. But then the Spurs proceeded to go on an 11-4 run to close the quarter with a 26-19 lead.
It seemed like the Spurs not only had LeBron’s number but fellow Heat superstar Dwayne Wade, keeping him off the scoreboard for the entire first quarter. Not to mention that the Spurs defense forced the Heat to commit 6 turnovers, 3 of those coming off of LeBron himself.
The second quarter started off the same way as the first quarter with the Spurs setting the tone with two quick baskets to push it up to 30-19 at the 11 minute mark. However things started to break down with a barrage of missed baskets and costly turnovers. The Heat took advantage of the Spurs miscues and the proceeded to go on a 9-0 run for the next 3 ½ minutes to pull within two points at 30-28.
Then it became a dogfight as it seemed like when one team got one basket to go in, the opposition responded in kind with a basket of their own. At one point, the Heat took their first lead of the game at the 5:07 mark on a LeBron layup to make it 34-33. However the Spurs rode on 4 quick points by SG Manu Ginobli to bump back up 37-34 but that lead did not last that long. By the time the buzzer went off to signal the end of the quarter and the first half, the score was all tied up 43-43.
After a slow start in the first quarter, LeBron James went off in the 2nd quarter. He got 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting to finish with both a team and game high 13 points in the first half to go with his 7 rebounds. Teammate Chris Bosh was the other Heat player to go score in double digits, scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Dwayne Wade chipped in with 6 points of his own and helped his team by drawing a foul on an obvious embellishing act.
On the Spurs side, Tim Duncan finished the half with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He also had a team and game high 9 rebounds, just 1 away from getting a record-tying 157 playoff double-doubles (Former Los Angeles Lakers Guard Magic Johnson has the record). Teammate Tony Parker was the other Spur in double-digit scoring, getting 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Also the Spurs’ bench outscored the Heats’ bench 15 points to a meager 3 points.
The third quarter started the same as both teams got 4 quick points each to notch the score up to 47-47. The Heat went up at one point 54-52 at 8:42 but then the Spurs proceeded to go on a 10-2 run for the next 3 minutes to pull ahead 62-56. Then it became LeBron time as he proceeded to go on an 8-0 run to put his team back up 64-62 with 4:50 left to play in the quarter.
Then for the next 2 minutes, the Heat continued to ride the hot hands of LeBron. They got up as much as 5 points to 71-66 at the 2:24 mark. However the Spurs charged back again to tie things up due to the prowess of their bench players (like Ginobli and G Patty Mills). Then it just became a seesaw affair for the last couple of minutes with nobody really getting an advantage over the other.
When the third quarter buzzer went off, the score read 78-77 in favor of the Spurs. However there were 10 lead changes throughout the entire quarter, only adding to the competitive display throughout the entire game. History was also made during the third quarter. At the 10:47 mark, Tim Duncan grabbed his 10th rebound of the game. That gave him his 157th career playoff double-double, tying him Magic Johnson for the most career playoff double-doubles.
In the opening seconds of the 4th quarter the Heat started things with a big three-point play by Chris Bosh to put the Heat up 80-78. But like in the previous three quarters, the lead did not last. A couple of quick baskets by the Spurs quickly got them back up 85-83 at the 7:53. Things got a little tricky for the Heat as they picked up their 5th team foul of the quarter at the 6:52 mark, putting the Spurs in the bonus for the remainder of the game.
But then at the 6:43 mark, there was a controversial play that changed the momentum of the game. Heat guard Mario Chalmers was driving to the net with Tony Parker covering him. However Chalmers threw an elbow into the Spurs’ guard’s side, dropping him to the court. Chalmers was charged with a Flagrant Foul Type 1 and Parker was awarded two free throws.
However Parker was visibly shaken up, still wincing and grimacing. He ended missing both free throws, failing to capitalize on the given opportunity. Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich had to take Parker out of the game for a period of time. But that only meant that somebody on the Spurs bench had to step in and step up to the challenge.
But as things then started to come down to the wire, the Heat dug deeper in to their well. With his team trailing with less than a 1 minute and a half remaining, Chris Bosh drained a big 3 point shot to give his team a 95-93. Then later down the road, LeBron was fouled and went to the free throw line. He only managed to convert one shot but still made it 96-93 with time winding down. It seemed liked no matter what the Spurs tried to counter with, their shots did not find the bottom of the net. A late basket by Dwayne Wade put the Heat up 98-93 with 9.4 seconds remaining and all was lost for San Antonio. Ginobli finally was able to sink in a 3-point shot for the Spurs, but time expired after the ball was in the air.
When the final buzzer sounded, the final score was 98-96 in favor of Miami. After taking so much criticism for his cramping incident in Game 1, LeBron James roared back in a big way. He finished with a game high 35 points on an impressive 14-of-22 shooting, including 14 points alone in the third quarter, to go with his team high 10 rebounds. Teammates Chris Bosh, Rashard Lewis, and Dwayne Wade each contributed to the cause with their own double-digit scoring (18 for Bosh, and 14 for Wade and Lewis each). On the Spurs side, Tim Duncan finished with 18 points and a game high 15 rebounds in the losing effort. Tony Parker contributed as well with team high 21 points and game high 7 assists while Manu Ginobli chipped in 19 points off the bench.
The series will shift down to Miami for the next two games this week. Game 3 will be on June 10 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Game 4 will be on June 12 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
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