Kawhi Leonard stepped up for the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the NBA Finals as his team went on the offensive and rolled passed the Miami Heat, 111-92. Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich inserted Frenchman Boris Diaw into the starting lineup as a replacement for Tiago Splitter. The move was like a stroke of genius, as it changed the team’s dynamic and floor spacing from the get-go. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green got hot in the first half and San Antonio piled on the points, shooting a scorching 76% from the field. San Antonio had a 71-50 lead going into the halftime break.
“I don’t think we’ll ever shoot 76 percent in a half ever again,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scored 22 points each, while Rashard Lewis added 14. James, however, was responsible for seven of the team’s 20 turnovers for the game. Chris Bosh, who had been active in the first two games managed just nine points in this outing.
Kawhi Leonard finished with a game-high 29 points, shooting 10-of-13 from the field and 6-of-7 from the line. He knocked down three treys and also grabbed two steals and got two blocks, completing an all-around excellent game. Tony Parker and Danny Green each chipped in 15 points. Tim Duncan scored 14 points and six rebounds.
“I just found a rhythm, and my teammates found me the ball. I made shots,” Leonard said.
The Heat will now have to come out in Game 4 and match the Spurs’ new-found energy level or exceed it. In this game, San Antonio out “small-balled” them. Miami will need to contest shots more and employ a stingier perimeter defense.