The NBA Finals are tied at 1-1 after the Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night in a thriller 98-96.
Last season the Spurs missed a few free throws that likely cost them the NBA title. Déjà vu reared its ugly head on Sunday when a few more misses from the free throw line by two of their top players likely was the difference from being up 2-0 to the reality of being tied 1-1 heading to Miami for Games 3 and 4.
The Spurs had good games from their top players with Tony Parker scoring 21 and Tim Duncan hitting for 18, but the two missed all four of their attempts from the charity stripe in a critical period during the final quarter.
LeBron James recovered from his leg cramps to score 35 for the Heat.
The two teams play Game 3 on Tuesday at American Airlines Arena in south Florida.
Last season Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili missed some costly shots in Game 6 of the NBA Finals that allowed Miami to overcome a 5-point deficit with just 28 second left to send the game to overtime and then win it.
This 0 for 4 at the free throw line did not take place in such a dramatic fashion but the outcome was as costly.
The early line on Bovada and sportsbook.com for Game 3 in Miami has the Heat favored by 4.5. On topbet and betonline, the point total for the overall under opened at 198.5.
Prior to the loss on Sunday, the Spurs had won 8 consecutive home games during the playoffs, with all coming by 15 points or more, but everything comes to an end.
Without much time to regroup or to practice foul shots, the Spurs will head to Miami on Monday for Tuesday’s game.
Do not expect the air conditioning to go out in Miami or any other strange phenomenon taking place. What you can expect is some of the best, intense back and forth play from what are arguably the two best teams in the NBA.
James was able to show all basketball fans and in particular the ones at the AT&T Center in San Antonio why he is the best player in the NBA.
In a short span of three straight Miami possessions during the third quarter on Sunday, James by himself reduced a six-point Spurs lead to a Heat 2-point advantage.
James started the offensive display with a 3-pointer from the left side of the foul line, followed a San Antonio miss with a jumper over Boris Diaw and followed a second San Antonio miss with another 3-pointer in transition. The result was an 8-0 Miami run and a two-point Heat lead.
Now the series is the best of five with Miami holding the home court advantage, let’s see how San Antonio reacts on Tuesday.