Miami’s LeBron James, left, wasn’t too pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which the Spurs dominated to take a 2-1 series lead. (Reuters)
MIAMI — Timing was not on the side of the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals.
Chris Bosh said Miami played its “worst game of the season, probably the worst game we’ve played together” Tuesday in a 111-92 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
LeBron James called for a more physical mindset in today’s Game 4 after a two-hour film session with coach Erik Spoelstra during which the coach tried to light a fire under his team.
“We have to fix some things for sure. I believe in our system and believe in my teammates,” James said.
“A loss is a loss in the postseason. A loss is a loss in the Finals. Lose by 30 or lose by 1, they are all painful.”
The Spurs shot lights-out from the start of the game. The Spurs shot an otherworldly 86.7 percent from the floor in the first quarter. San Antonio shot 75.8 percent for the first half, which set an NBA Finals record for the opening two quarters, and maintained a double-digit lead for most of the game.
The Spurs used power forward Boris Diaw in the starting lineup for the first time in the series — he scored nine points and helped defend James, while causing mismatch issues when San Antonio had the ball with his size, outside shooting threat and ability to pass — and received a major jolt from Kawhi Leonard. He scored 29 points, 16 over his playoff average, and shot 10 of 13 from the floor. Leonard scored 18 total points in the first two games in the series.
“When you lose, it seems like you did everything wrong,” said Dwyane Wade, who admitted Leonard’s aggressiveness and ability to drive to the middle of the Miami defense took the Heat off guard. “Now it’s our job to go out there as players and change the outcome.”
Wade said the Heat remain an “in the moment team” not thinking about Game 4 being a must-win with the prospect of returning to San Antonio for Game 5 with a 3-1 deficit should the Spurs win today.
Miami has not lost back-to-back playoffs games since 2012 but James said the Heat will be on edge trailing in the series 2-1.
“Some of it was mental breakdowns,” James said. “The mental breakdowns happened early and then there was an avalanche. When you let them get in a groove like that … there was no slowing them down.”
Point guard Mario Chalmers raised his hand Wednesday to take more than his share of the blame for the two losses in the series. Spoelstra quickly pushed away Chalmers’ critics in an apparent effort to salvage some semblance of confidence for his starting point guard. But James said it will be dependent on Chalmers picking himself up, because confidence cannot be transplanted.
“When a guy loses confidence in himself, it’s all downhill,” James said. “His confidence may be a little shaken. It’s weighing on him.”
Spoelstra said he wants Chalmers to know the Heat have faith and trust in him.
“The most important thing is you have an opportunity to help impact and win the next game,” he said.