NBA Finals Game 4 Review: Big 3 comes through

NBA Finals Game 4 Review: Big 3 comes through
June 14, 2013, 1:00 am
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SAN ANTONIO — For the first time in The Finals, the Miami Heat's Big Three played up to the moniker.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh delivered a devastating 1-2-3 punch that left the San Antonio Spurs gasping for answers that never came.

And the end result was a 109-93 Miami victory to even the best-of-seven series at two games each with Game 5 in San Antonio on Sunday and Game 6 back in Miami on Tuesday.

San Antonio boasts its own triumvirate of superstars with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

But on this night, they were no match for their Miami counterparts who each controlled the game at some point.

Bosh was more than holding his own in the paint with put-back baskets and rebounds. James had 33 points along with doing a strong job defensively on Gary Neal (he lit the Heat up for a career playoff-high 24 points in Game 3) while Wade was Mr. do-it-all as he finished with 32 points.

Meanwhile, Duncan had 20 points and five rebounds but never seemed to put his imprint on the game. Ginobili literally could not make shots most of the night before finishing with just five points on 1-for-5 shooting.

And Parker, who suffered a Grade 1 strained hamstring injury in Game 3, had 15 points and nine assists. But as the game got tighter and more contentious in the second half, Parker was scoreless.

But this game was more than anything else, about all that the Heat's Big Three were finally able to accomplish.

"When Bosh, Wade and James score the way they did tonight and shoot it the way they did ... you better be playing a more perfect game," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

And the Spurs were far - far - from perfect on Thursday night.

Not only did San Antonio cough up the ball more than usual (19 turnovers), those miscues led to 23 points for the Heat.

"The turnovers obviously hurt us," Popovich said. "We can't give them over 20 points off turnovers. They're too good."

And the same can be said for this series with a pivotal Game 5 matchup on the horizon.

But here's a look back at some factors outlined prior to the game, and how they factored into the Heat's victory:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  LeBron James has averaged 18 shots per game in this series, but only 3.3 in the first quarter. Considering he's shooting less than 40 percent in the series, don't be surprised if James looks for his offense early and often which would involve getting a lot more shots in the first quarter.

WHAT WE SAW: James got off to his best start of the series with 11 points in the first quarter on 5-for-6 shooting, the kind of start the Heat desperately needed from him as he finished with a game-high 33 points.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Tim Duncan vs Udonis Haslem: As much grief as James has received for his 38.9 percent shooting in The Finals, Duncan has actually been even worse (37.2 percent) from the field. A big part of that has been Haslem whose defense against Duncan has been exceptional.

WHAT WE SAW: With Miami electing to start Mike Miller instead of Haslem, Duncan wasn't matched up with Haslem as much as he was in the first three games of The Finals. And it was reflected in Duncan shooting 6-for-10 from the field before finishing with 20 points.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  Gary Neal had 17 points in Games 1 and 2 combined, but dropped 24 once the Spurs returned home for Game 3. San Antonio don't necessarily need another career night from Neal, but they do need him to continue being a difference-maker off the bench.

WHAT WE SAW: Neal saw his first action less than a minute into the game, providing the Spurs with a better matchup against Miami's smaller lineup. But he didn't come close to matching his breakout performance in Game 3.  On Thursday, Neal finished with 13 points while shooting 4-for-7 from the field which included him connecting on three of his four 3-point attempts.

STAT TO TRACK: The Heat average more than 24 free-throw attempts per game in the playoffs, but shot just 10 on Tuesday night. Most noteworthy was James, who leads all players in the postseason in free-throw attempts (142). He did not take a single free throw attempt in Game 3. That's going to change - dramatically - in Game 4.

WHAT WE SAW:  Miami didn't exactly live at the free throw line in Game 4, but there was a definite increase in their aggressiveness which led to more free throw attempts. For the game, the Heat was 15-for-17 from the line.