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The Spurs beat the Heat 111-92 Tuesday in Miami to take a 2-1 lead in the 2014 NBA Finals. San Antonio got off to an incredible start, and were able to keep the Heat at bay to secure the victory. Here’s the New York Daily News:

After starting the game by making 19 of their first 21 shots, the Spurs finished the half shooting 25-of-33 (76%), setting a Finals first-half record. Their 41 points in the first quarter were the most in a Finals game since 1967, while their 13-of-15 shooting in the first quarter (87%) also set a Finals record.

The Heat did cut the lead to seven points in the third period and was down only 10 with 8:54 to go in the game. But the Spurs, who are still smarting from their epic Game 6 collapse last June, didn’t come close to buckling this time.

Remember how Gregg Popovich complained after Game 2 on Sunday that the ball stuck to his team’s hands way too much in the critical fourth quarter, when it scored only six points in the final 4:40? For the first 19 minutes of this game, once the ball left the Spurs’ shooters hands, the only thing it stuck to was the nylon nets.

“I don’t think we’ll ever shoot 76% . . . ever . . . in a half . . . again,” Popovich said, looking amazed.

If you watched the Spurs score only 18 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2, you wouldn’t have thought that it was the same team. At the height of their blitz, they led 55-30.

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on NBA Finals Game 3:

Quiet Kawhi Leonard lets Game 3 play speak for itself

On the night he put together the best playoff performance of his career, Kawhi Leonard opted to pass up the spotlight and the post-game press conference that typically comes on a night like his.

Instead, the soft-spoken Spurs forward stood in San Antonio’s locker room, still in his uniform, and answered questions from a media contingent the likes of which he hasn’t seen all NBA Finals.

“I was just in attack mode trying to be aggressive early and knocking down a couple shots got me going and my teammates found me,” he said simply when describing his career high 29 point-performance that helped the Spurs take a 2-1 series lead with their 111-92 win over the Miami Heat in Tuesday’s Game 3. “We were just running the same offense. I was able to play tonight. I didn’t get in foul trouble early, I got in a rhythm and my teammates got me involved.”

Things didn’t exactly go so well for Leonard through the first two games of the NBA Finals.

The third-year player had a combined 18 points and four rebounds in the first two games of the series and fouled out for the first time in 243 NBA games on Sunday during Miami’s Game 2 win.

Video: 2014 NBA Finals Game 2 mini-movie

Sunday in San Antonio, the Miami Heat edged the Spurs 98-96 to tie the 2014 NBA Finals at 1-1. LeBron James scored 35 points in the win. Enjoy the video highlights in this Finals Game 2 “mini-movie.”

Here’s the Los Angeles Times reporting on the Spurs-Heat NBA Finals. Game 3 is tonight in Miami:

The Spurs are back for Game 3 of the Finals on Tuesday, intent on forgetting as much as they can about the last time they were here on this stage.

“For me personally, I’m definitely not going to think about that the next two games,” San Antonio guard Tony Parker said after the Spurs fell, 98-96, in Game 2 on Sunday night. “I’m going to focus on what I can do to help the team win. Going to be big games coming up.”

The Heat and Spurs are in a similar spot to where they were last year, the series tied after two games. The difference is that the next two games will be in Miami as part of the new 2-2-1-1-1 series format instead of in San Antonio for three games as part of the old 2-3-2 alignment that ended last year.

It seemed pretty clear what fixes the Spurs needed to make after another unhappy ending doomed them in Game 2. They led by a point after Parker made a three-pointer with 2:26 remaining before their final four possessions went like this: missed Manu Ginobili three-pointer, Ginobili turnover, Ginobili missed jumper and meaningless Ginobili three-pointer with 0.3 seconds left.

San Antonio’s demise was not solely a one-man operation, though.

The Spurs missed eight of 20 free throws in the game, including four in a row in the fourth quarter.

michael redd

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has been fined $5,000 by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-flopping rules during Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals.

The flop was easily visible even in real time, and became blatantly obvious when shown repeatedly in slow-motion replay.

The incident occurred with 4:09 remaining in the second quarter of Miami’s 98-96 win over the San Antonio Spurs last night at AT&T Center.

To view the play click on this link.

Here’s the Miami Herald reporting on the Spurs vs Heat 2014 NBA Finals, which are currently tied at 1-1.

Spurs say improvement must come from offense

Even after a Game 2 in which LeBron James scored 35 points and the Heat shot 52.9 percent from the field, it was notable that the Spurs pointed to the offensive end as the area of their shortcomings on Sunday.

Guard Danny Green said the Spurs can live with the shots they gave James: “They were contested jumpers. You’re not going to block his jump shot. We didn’t expect him to shoot that well, but he got hot.”

Tim Duncan said he “thought we were pretty decent” defensively.

What wasn’t acceptable, coach Gregg Popovich said, was the lack of ball movement. “The ball stuck,” he said. “We didn’t do it as a group. We tried to do it individually, and we’re not good enough to do that. You move it or you die.”

Here’s the Miami Herald reporting on Heat and Spurs 2014 NBA Finals series:

Heat point guards not doing much in 2014 NBA Finals yet

Nine NBA Finals games between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat over the last two summers have shown us the stars need assistance to win the series, even if you’ve got the best player on the planet on your side.

The defending champs squeezed by the Spurs in a 98-96 Game 2 win on Sunday night, evening the series and avoiding their first two-game playoff losing streak in more than two years. But they did so without much help from two point guards that have been so valuable in years past.

Mario Chalmers scored five points and Norris Cole didn’t dent the scoreboard, but the team’s starting point guard said it hasn’t yet become a concern.

“Game 1, I was in foul trouble the whole time, but today I got into a little bit of a rhythm,” Chalmers said, dismissing the idea that playing the first two games on the road makes a difference. “But our job is really to contain Tony Parker and hit shots when we get shots.”

Here’s the Miami Herald reporting on the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals:

Manu Ginobili leads Spurs bench brigade in losing cause

The San Antonio Spurs sported the highest-scoring bench in the NBA during the regular season.

Spurs reserves lived up to that billing Sunday night, but it wasn’t enough to save them as LeBron James and the Heat evened their best-of-7 NBA Finals with a 98-96 victory in Game 2 at AT&T Center.

The Spurs’ bench outscored the Heat’s reserves 37-12. On most nights, that would have been enough to guarantee a victory.

But this wasn’t most nights.

James, bouncing back from his Game 1 disappointment — when he was forced to sit out the final four minutes with leg cramps after an air-conditioning failure — erupted for 35 points and 10 rebounds.

Sunday in San Antonio, the Miami Heat came to town, enjoyed proper arena air conditioning, and edged the Spurs 98-96 to tie the 2014 NBA Finals 1-1. LeBron James shot 14-of-22 in the win for 35 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Enjoy these LeBron video highlights:

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on the Heat, who are down 1-0 to the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals. Game 2 is Sunday night in San Antonio:

The last time the Miami Heat lost consecutive playoff games, Ray Allen played for the opposition, Chris Bosh played off the bench, and James Jones was the first reserve off that bench.

Since then, since that June 5, 2012 Eastern Conference finals loss to the Boston Celtics, every Heat playoff loss has been followed with a victory. Every one.

While the sting remains from Thursday’s 110-95 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of these best-of-seven NBA Finals, the Heat go into Sunday’s Game 2 at the AT&T Center having followed up each of their last 12 playoff losses with a victory. It is the longest such streak in the NBA since the Chicago Bulls had a similar 12-victory run that ended in 1992.

“I think this team, when we are faced with those situations, being in this so many times before, it brings out the best in us,” center Chris Bosh said before Saturday’s practice at the Spurs’ practice facility. “We’ve been in this position many times before, so we know how to handle it.”

Three times during last year’s Finals against the Spurs the Heat responded from losses with victories in winning their second consecutive championship, including such a response after losing their first road game of that series at the AT&T Center.

Here’s the Miami Herald reporting on Thursday’s Finals Game 1, where the Spurs beat the Heat:

Mario Chalmers struggles in Game 1 of NBA Finals

Mario Chalmers said his ball-handling responsibilities — always less than the traditional point guard — have been reduced somewhat in these playoffs, to the point where he is “just trying to figure out where I fit in right now.”

Regardless, the Heat needs a more efficient, productive Chalmers than the one who was turnover- and foul-prone in Game 1 of the Finals.

“Everybody knew I was frustrated with the foul trouble I got into early,” Chalmers said Friday. “When I got back in the game, I was trying to press too much. I’ve got to be more patient in my pick and rolls, and try to find more gaps.”

Limited to 17 minutes by foul trouble, Chalmers committed five turnovers and finished with one assist and three points. Tony Parker, who was outscored by Chalmers in the final two games of last year’s Finals, thoroughly outplayed him Thursday, with 19 points and twice as many assists (eight) as turnovers.

The Spurs beat the Heat 110-95 Thursday to take a 1-0 NBA Finals lead. For seven minutes of great entertainment, enjoy the video highlights in this Game 1 “minimovie.”

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals:

LeBron James definitely expects to play NBA Finals Game 2

The flair for the dramatic was back, even if it temporarily might have stopped the hearts of Miami Heat teammates still reeling from the impact of his Thursday departure.

“If I had to say today,” LeBron James told a packed press conference Friday at the San Antonio Spurs’ practice facility, “I would probably be out on Sunday. I probably won’t play.”

He paused. Some gasped. Then he smiled.

“No, I’ll be all right,” he continued. “I’ll be in uniform on Sunday. I should be 100 percent on Sunday.”

With treatment ongoing for the cramping that sidelined the All-Star forward for the decisive latter stages of the Heat’s 110-95 Thursday loss to the Spurs at the AT&T Center in Game 1 of the best-of-seven NBA Finals, James said extensive overnight hydration, round-the-clock therapy and a return to air-conditioned confines had him in a far better place than those sweltering and debilitation hours when he attempted to play through the air-conditioning malfunction at the Spurs’ arena.

Here are video highlights of the top plays from Spurs vs Heat NBA Finals Game 1. Played in San Antonio Thursday night, the Spurs won, 110-95

Tim Duncan made his first appearance in the NBA Finals in the 1998-99 season and is making is his sixth appearance in the championship round in the 2013-14 season, marking the second-longest span between Finals appearances in NBA history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played in the 1971 Finals with the Milwaukee Bucks and the 1988 Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers. Robert Parish won a title with the Boston Celtics in 1981, and was on the roster of the 1997 Chicago Bulls, but didn’t play in the 1997 Finals.

San Antonio is making its sixth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history, which is the eighth most in NBA history. The Spurs have amassed a 19-10 record (.655) in the Finals, the second-best winning percentage in NBA Finals history. Additionally, the Spurs are 11-3 (.786) at home in the NBA Finals and 8-7 (.533) on the road.

The Spurs have won seven consecutive home games by 15+ points, marking the longest such streak in NBA postseason history. The record was previously set by the 1985 Los Angeles Lakers when they recorded six straight such games. San Antonio owns a +17.4 point differential average in 10 home games this postseason, the most among playoff teams.

Miami has scored more points off turnovers than its opponent in 13 of its 15 games this postseason and has forced opponents into double-figure turnovers in all 15 games as the opposition has averaged 13.7 turnovers (206 total) over that span during the playoffs.

LeBron James is one assist shy of his 1,000th career postseason assist, and would become just the third player in NBA postseason history to total at least 4,000 points (4,278), 1,000 rebounds (1,293) and 1,000 assists (999), joining Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

The Heat and Spurs have a combined seven NBA Finals MVP awards (LeBron James - 2012, 2013; Tony Parker - 2007; Dwyane Wade - 2006; Tim Duncan - 1999, 2003, 2005).

Eight players on Finals rosters boast NBA D-League experience: San Antonio’s Aron Baynes, Austin Daye, Damion James, Patty Mills, Danny Green and Cory Joseph; and Miami’s Chris Andersen and Justin Hamilton.

– Via NBA News

Some top 2014 NBA Finals storylines

RETURN TRIP: A Finals rematch is a rare treat. This will be the first time since 1997 and 1998 two teams will square off in consecutive years. Further adding to the anticipation, it’s the first time in 25 years that two teams played a seven-game Finals and repeated as conference champions the following season.

SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE: Six Finals appearances in 16 seasons and 15 consecutive 50+ win seasons have established the Spurs as the NBA’s model for long-term success. Is this the team’s last run for a championship? When you’re the Spurs, the answer to that question can never be yes.

COACHING UP: Only four coaches in the history of the NBA (Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley and John Kundla) have won five or more titles. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich hopes to join this elite club in 2014. On the other sideline, Erik Spoelstra is aiming to become only the fourth coach (Auerbach, Kundla and Jackson) in NBA history to win three straight Finals.

DOING IT WITH DEPTH: The Spurs’ depth has been one of the largest reasons for their return to The Finals. San Antonio is the first team since the NBA/ABA merger (1976) to not have a single player average 30 minutes. The Spurs had nine players average at least 8.0 points this season — the first team to hold that distinction and make The Finals since the 1965-66 Celtics. San Antonio’s reserves finished the regular season with the highest scoring average in Spurs franchise history and in this season’s playoffs, the reserves have accounted for a league-high 42.2 points per game.

DIFFERENT PATH, SIMILAR RESULTS: The Spurs and Heat were built in different ways, with different types of players. After Tim Duncan, who was the top pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, the next highest Spurs draft pick is Kawhi Leonard (15th overall pick). Their roster boasts five second-rounders and one undrafted player. The Heat, on the other hand, features six top 10 picks on its star-studded roster.

– NBA News

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Heat backup guard Norris Cole:

Young Norris Cole living in NBA Finals with Heat

Norris Cole isn’t ready to assess his place in history, not at 25, not in just his third season in the league.

But he appreciates the uniqueness of his NBA reality, having now made it to the Finals in each of his first three seasons, with championships in each of his first two.

With this best-of-seven series against the San Antonio Spurs, the reserve point guard becomes the first player to appear in the NBA Finals in his first three seasons since Scott Williams did it with the Chicago Bulls from 1991 to 1993.

Beyond being the first player to do that in more than two decades, Cole entered these Finals having appeared in 55 playoff games, the fourth highest total over a player’s first three seasons.

Spurs get their Heat Finals rematch

Spurs get their Heat Finals rematch

Starting Thursday, the Spurs get a rematch in the NBA Finals against the only team to ever beat them in a championship series. San Antonio will be holding home-court advantage, so if another Game 7 awaits, the Spurs will have the decided edge this time around. If that wasn’t enough, the Spurs even got basically five full days between games to get healthy and prepare.

It is, without question, everything the Spurs could have wanted.

“We know what we’re going against,” said Spurs guard Tony Parker, who added that he has great respect for what the Heat have done in this four-year run. “It’s a great challenge.”

There are so many things that would seem like a distinct San Antonio advantage right now.

First, while everyone’s better at home, the Spurs dominate in San Antonio, winning 103 times in their last 123 games there. Over the past four seasons, the Spurs are also 25-5 when having three or more days between games.

– Associated Press

Enjoy video highlights of some of the hottest plays of the 2014 NBA Conference Finals, where the Spurs wound up eliminating the Thunder, while the Heat eliminated the Pacers:

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on veteran Spurs star Tim Duncan, who sure seems ready for an NBA Finals rematch with the Heat:

The normally bland Duncan offered some surprising thoughts on facing the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals for a second straight year. The best-of-7 series opens Thursday in San Antonio.

“We’re back here now and we want to get it done this time,” Duncan said.

The Spurs advanced after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games. Last year they lost in seven games to the Heat despite holding a 3-2 lead in the series. The Heat won the last two at AmericanAirlines Arena, but this time the Spurs hold homecourt advantage.

“We were ready last year, too,” Duncan said. “People keep talking about it like we weren’t close to winning it. We were ready last year, and we just couldn’t get over that hump. We’re happy to be back here this year, we’re happy to have another opportunity at it.”

Duncan said the Spurs still have a “bad taste” in their mouths after last year. This season began with coach Gregg Popovich addressing the team about how close they were.

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