Game Three featured the most impressive long-distance shooting display in NBA Finals history, as the Spurs knocked down a record-setting sixteen three point baskets. The result was the most humbling loss in the Big Three Era of Miami Heat basketball, a 36-point thrashing.
Yet, for all the panic-inducing a 36-point loss causes, it is still just ONE game. Miami is still in a position to retake home court advantage and ensure the series will at least return to South Beach. Of course, that all hinges on being able to bounce back less than 48 hours later and win tonight in San Antonio. And that will come down to King James living up to his simple post-game vow – “I’ll be better.”
So will he come through? Will Tony Parker’s ailing hamstring be the thing that hamstrings the Spurs title dreams? Let’s take a look at tonight’s matchup and get back on the winning track.
Tonight’s Free Pick:
Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs -1.5 (Total: 187)
The Heat bounce back. Every time. It’s just what they do. But I’ll admit, they’ve never had a bigger bounce required from the “bounce back.” Their last loss was as humilitiating beat-down as I can recall in the NBA Finals – probably the worst loss since Boston vs. LA in Game Seven of the Finals five years back.
I feel like I’ve seen this story and fallen into the trap before; Indiana had “figured out” the Heat… only to be wiped off the floor the next game after each loss. It may be a bit hard to picture following the debacle of Tuesday night, but I think the Heat bounce back and get the job done tonight. I can’t see Lebron struggling a fourth straight game, and I think they will once again be the aggressors, both offensively and on the defensive side of the ball.
But the biggest issue and game changer tonight is the uncertain status of Tony Parker and his hamstring. Yes, he only scored six points in the Spurs biggest win of the season. Yes, the role players; Kwahi Leonard, Gary Neal and Danny Green were amazing. But let’s not kid ourselves, Tony Parker is the engine that makes this team run. He’s the guy and the catalyst of the Spurs engine.
I see Miami swarming on defense and making the Spurs turn the ball over more than usual. Parker will be slightly slowed (at the least), and it is asking a ton of Neal and Green to once again outplay Wade and Lebron, especially with the Heat team backed into a corner tonight.
I am going to go with the Heat inexplicably looking like a brand new team; a team possessed, following a loss and bouncing back to even the series tonight in San Antonio.
Free Pick: Miami Heat +1.5