After two games in Miami the Spurs and Heat have each drawn blood and drawn even.
Many now see this series as a “best-of-five” situation, where perhaps they should see it as a “best-of-the-next-three,” and here’s why: the winner of the three-game series in San Antonio will win the championship.
Let’s just take a look at the three possible scenarios at stake – either team sweeps, the Spurs win two of three, or the Heat win two of three.
The first scenario is obvious and needs no expounding upon. If either team sweeps the San Antonio series they will have won the Finals series 4-1. What may not be obvious is the answer to the question, “which team has a better chance at accomplishing said task?”
It may be tempting to give the Spurs the benefit of the doubt, seeing as it is their home court and, surely, the thought of not having to return to Miami for either Game 6 or 7 must give quite a lot of motivation. History, however, would lean towards Miami.
Since forming the Miami “Big Three,” the Heat have lost Game 1 four times (including this series). They did not lose another game in any of those three prior series, including the Thunder Finals series last season. It’s highly unlikely that that trend should continue, however.
So which, then, of the other possible scenarios is more likely to occur? – San Antonio or Miami winning two of three games?
To answer this, one must determine which team is more likely to win Game 3.
Miami will enter Game 3 with an anticipated higher confidence. The fact that Tim Duncan didn’t play a minute of the 4th quarter and the rest of the Spurs starters hit the bench with 7:43 remaining in the game could have done nothing but dampen the confidence level of San Antonio.
Hope is not lost, though, for Spurs fans. The best coach in the NBA is at the helm of the Spurs in Gregg Popovich and, as many coaches will agree, it is easier to make adjustments and thus improve after a loss than a win. Popovich will have a big task in front of him as turnovers were the Spurs downfall and forcing turnovers the Heat’s biggest strength. If the Miami Heat can continue to pressure the Spurs into turning the ball over with their stifling defense, the Spurs may have no chance at victory apart from stellar defense of their own and lights-out shooting from behind the arch.
Game 3 is also a must-win for the Spurs for the fact that Miami is 11-0 following a loss. If Miami wins Game 3 and follows their trend of no-back-to-back losses, the Spurs cannot make up the difference.
If San Antonio wins Game 3, and split Games 4 and 5 with the Heat, they force Miami’s back to the wall and force them to win Games 6 and 7, a feat that is not impossible by any stretch but certainly daunting.
If Miami wins two of the three games in San Antonio, you can all but kiss the Spurs’ chances at a fifth title goodbye.
*** Historical Tidbits ***
In all four of the Spurs’ prior championship victories, they had home court advantage in the best-of-seven series.
Only once have the Spurs split the first two games 1-1 in the Finals – against the Nets in 2003. Spurs won in 6.
Miami’s “Big 3” is 8-3 in Game 3’s
In the last seven Finals series when started 1-1, the team that won the next best-of-three-games series won the title six times.
- Balanced start, LeBron James’ explosive finish of San Antonio Spurs evens NBA Finals for Miami Heat (miamiherald.com)
- Tim Duncan plays ‘awfully’ as San Antonio Spurs wilt to Miami Heat (miamiherald.com)
- Greg Cote: With Miami Heat, we should have known to expect a bounce-back (miamiherald.com)