Somehow, some way, the San Antonio Spurs seem to have discovered a secret that every team in the league desperately searched for all season long. They have figured out a way to slow down LeBron James.
Whether it's Kawhi Leonard's incredible wingspan, Danny Green's dogged determination or a stash of kryptonite that Tim Duncan happened upon while taking a walk along the banks of the San Antonio River, it's working. And yet the Spurs return home for Game 3 of the NBA Finals tonight perhaps feeling lucky to have earned a split in Miami.
James is averaging a pedestrian 17.5 points and has posted his two lowest point totals in the postseason during the finals. One would think that's a recipe for a commanding 2-0 series lead.
But San Antonio needed an incredible shot from Tony Parker with 5.2 seconds to play in Game 1 to hold off a charging James, then got blown out in Game 2 on Sunday night even though the four-time MVP scored 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting.
“Obviously, LeBron is unbelievable,” Parker said after the 103-84 loss to the Heat that evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. “He's going to score. But right now the other players, they are playing great, too. So we can't have both.”
James shot an astounding 56.5 percent during the regular season and made 103 3-pointers — the first time in league history someone has made that many 3s while shooting a percentage that high. The improved shooting has made the 6-foot-8, 250-pound freight train almost impossible to guard this season, and had the Heat confident that their star player had the antidote for any type of defensive approach against him.
James had a triple-double in Game 1, but only scored 18 points on 16 shots in the 92-88 loss. He is shooting just 41.4 percent from the field, is 2 for 8 from long range and has only attempted six free throws in the first two games, monumental achievements against the most dominant player in the game.
“I know I attract a lot of attention,” James said. “This team has been set up the right way where when I do attract attention, we have guys that can make plays.”
Miami vs. San Antonio
Game 1: San Antonio 92, Miami 88
Game 2: Miami 103, San Antonio 84
Today: Miami at San Antonio, 6 p.m.
Thursday: Miami at San Antonio, 6 p.m.
Sunday: Miami at San Antonio, 5 p.m.
x-June 18: San Antonio at Miami, 6 p.m.
x-June 20: San Antonio at Miami, 6 p.m.