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Spurs expose a glaring weakness with the Heat

JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 6/20/2013, 12:33 p.m.
Danny Green #4 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs by the final score of 102-93 at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, CA.

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April 13, 2008; Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs during the game. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs by the final score of 106-85 at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, CA.

The Miami Heat aren't in trouble, but they're in a problematic situation.

The San Antonio Spurs' 113-77 victory over the Heat on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to take a 2-1 series lead reaffirmed that the defending champions are a fundamentally flawed team. With the next two games taking place in San Antonio, the Heat find themselves needing to win Game 4 tonight (Thursday) to avert the highly unlikely task of garnering three consecutive wins to claim the title in this best-of-seven matchup--a dramatic shift after crushing the Spurs 103-84 in Game 2.

"We got what we deserved tonight," said Heat coach Eric Spoelstra. "They got into an incredible rhythm, and we played from virtually behind from the start."

Despite dominating the opposition during the regular season, the Heat's vulnerabilities were evident yet masked by the otherworldly play of LeBron James. Their most glaring weakness, rebounding, reared itself in Game 3. The Heat were 30th and last in the league in this category and were out-rebounded by the Spurs by the fatal margin of 52-36, including 19 offensive boards.

Go ahead and reference the Finals' record 16 3-pointers out of 32 attempts bucketed by the Spurs as the primary reason for the blowout. Yes, Danny Green, who was 7-9 in scoring a game high 27 points, and Gary Neal, 6-10 for 24 points, were unconscious.

But the symptoms of the defeat run much deeper than the Spurs' remarkable shooting display. What was illuminated once again is that James carries his teammates. The Heat cannot overcome subpar performances by James, like on Tuesday, when he seemed frustrated by the Spurs' not allowing him to consistently post up on the low blocks; get his feet in the paint, where he could collapse the defense and kick the ball out to his comrades for open jumpers; nor attack the front of the rim.

Remarkably, James did not attempt a single foul shot in 32 minutes. This is the story: The Heat is barely a .500 team without him. Their saving grace may be the dubious status of Tony Parker's injured hamstring as James' solo act moves forward.