The Third Quarter
By Jay Cipoletti
Game 3 saw the Spurs set a Finals record for highest FG% in a half (75.8% 1st Half). Their 129.8 Offensive Rating was well above their 107.2 road playoff mark. In the face of those numbers, can the Heat find any answers to solving the Spurs in their Game 3 performance?
They can if they focus on the 3rd Quarter.
In 21 third-quarter possessions, the Spurs managed only a meager 71.4 Offensive Rating. This despite only committing three turnovers, putting their points per shooting possession at only 0.94. Contrast with their turnover filled Game 1 win in which they scored over 1.5 points per shooting possession. They got shots in the 3rd Quarter. What they did not get were foul shots.
As John Schuhmann noted in yesterday's Hangtime Blog, "This series is a race between the Spurs' passes and the Heat's rotations." In the third quarter, the Heat were forced to make fewer rotations because the Spurs had fewer ball reversals. Fewer reversals equals fewer rotations; fewer rotations equals fewer gaps; and fewer gaps equals fewer rim attacks that result in shooting fouls.
In quarters 1, 2 & 4, the Spurs had a FTA Rate of 66.7%, attempting 30 free throws to 45 field goals. Their third quarter FTA Rate was only 10.5%, drawing only a single Tony Parker shooting foul against 19 shots from the field.
Those 19 FGAs were not very effective either. The Spurs made only one shot outside the paint in the third quarter, and only 5-of-12 inside it.
For one 12-minute period, the Heat were able to stall San Antonio's offensive machine. They did it by executing two of the most basic principles of team defense -- keep the ball on one side, and keep them off the foul line.
In order for Miami to even the series tonight, they will need to do that for more than one quarter.
Spurs Shot Chart, 3rd Quarter