Looking at the box score from last night’s embarrassing Miami Heat loss in Game 3 to the San Antonio Spurs, it is clear that it wasn’t just a monster game from Kawhi Leonard that resulted in the Heat losing by a margin of 19 points. The main perpetrator that caused this blowout loss was the complete lack of defensive intensity and cohesion, a deficit that could come back to haunt them as this series progresses.
The Heat allowed the Spurs to shoot an NBA Finals record 75.8 percent from the field in the first half, topping the Orlando Magic’s 75 percent field goal efficiency mark from the 2009 NBA Finals. If that isn’t enough to take a massive chunk out of the Heat’s defensive armor, four of the Spurs’ five starters scored in double digits. These are disturbing numbers for a title-defending defense such as the Heat’s, and is just another sign that points to how their once manic defense has taken a step back.
What doomed the Heat from tip-off were the turnovers, and the early deficit almost seemed like a mental block, deterring the entire team from ramping up the defensive energy when it mattered most. A 25-point Spurs lead was cut to seven points in the third quarter, and this was the best statement the Heat were able to make defensively all night. Shortly after this run, the Spurs’ offense start clicking again, and the blowout continued.
This trend has to end for the Heat if they are serious about winning their third straight title. The defending champs have not played an offense this high-caliber in any playoff series ever. This is a major reason why their defense has seemed so slow and out of place during rotations and switches. It is all or nothing at this point in the series, because if the Heat end up losing Game 4 in a similar fashion, they might as well hand the title over to the Spurs.