In what turned out to be only the second (reasonably) close game in this series so far, Game 4 of the NBA Finals became one of revenge for the Miami Heat. After suffering the third worst loss in Finals history (113-77) in Game 3, Miami righted the ship and beat the Spurs soundly Thursday evening, handing them a 109-93 defeat on their home floor in San Antonio.
Right from the opening tip, Miami played with laser-focus, desperation and in very clear attack-mode. They forced a 20 point swing in their favor in the first half. They played suffocating defense. They adjusted their starting lineup. They scored in the paint. And they won.
This contest was a tale of two teams’ Big Threes: the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combined for 40 points on 14-of-31 shooting, with 11 rebounds and 12 assists. Miami’s LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined for 85 points on 37-of-64 shooting, with 30 rebounds and nine assists. That’s just eight points less than the entire Spurs team scored all night and accounted for 78% of the Heat’s offense.
James’ aggression set the tone in the first quarter and he heated up early, finishing with 33 points on 15-of-25 shooting, 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots and two steals. Center Chris Bosh went for 20 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, two blocked shots and two steals and Ray Allen added 14 points on 50% shooting.
But it was Dwyane Wade who ended up having the real podium game. After 39 minutes of play, his final line boasted 32 points on 14-of-25 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, one blocked shot and six steals. After a solid first half, he dominated the second half, taking the ball up the floor, running the offense, drawing defenders and looking for his own shot. This was his first 30 point game since March 4th. He had only eight over the course of the entire season.
For San Antonio, Tony Parker, hobbled somewhat by a strained hamstring, finished with 15 points, nine assists and four rebounds on 7-of-16 shooting. Kawhi Leonard went for 12 points and seven rebounds, and the Texas version of the Splash Brothers (or, Gary Neal and Danny Green) combined for 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting (with 6-of-9 from three point range), seven rebounds and four assists. Tim Duncan was the best player on the floor Thursday night for the Spurs, ending up with 20 points, five rebounds and just one assist..
In the end, Miami’s defense beat the Spurs offense. The Spurs’ rhythm was visibly disrupted. They ran in transition less, passed the ball less and attempted fewer three pointers (in Game 3, they made 16 threes. In Game 4, they attempted that many). They had the ball stolen 13 times and turned the ball over 18 times. Miami turned it over nine times and had the ball stolen just five. The Spurs got to the free throw line 31 times (14 more than Miami), but still couldn’t capitalize, only making 23 shots.
The series, now tied 2-2, will stay in San Antonio for Game 5 at 7 p.m. on Sunday.