Spurs ride hot shooting in win

San Antonio Spurs beat Miami Heat in Game 3 as Danny Green and Gary Neal make combined 13 of 19 3-pointers and score 51 points.

It is difficult to believe if you’ve never seen it actually happen, but unguarded NBA players in practice situations can regularly make 10, 15, maybe 20, 3-pointers in a row. Not all of them, of course, but the best shooters have gotten their stroke down to such a thoughtless mechanism that making an undisturbed 3-pointer is something like brewing a cup of coffee.

And if that sounds fantastical to you, then you obviously didn’t watch Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

In that game, played Tuesday in San Antonio, Spurs’ guards Danny Green and Gary Neal combined to go 13 for 19 from the 3-point line. They combined for 51 points on 32 shots, leading the Spurs to a Finals-record 16 3-pointers and a 113-77 win over the Miami Heat to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

This falls under the realm of “things that can just happen when NBA players are involved.”

The Heat are not blameless in this. They appear to have been gambling that this wouldn’t happen. Their defensive strategy appears to prioritize keeping Tony Parker out of the lane. Additionally, it would be fair to say Green’s defender, Dwyane Wade, has not exactly been leaving it all out on the floor. Go ahead and rewind your DVRs if you don’t believe that.

As a consequence, the Spurs are making a lot of 3s in the series. But 26 for 51 the last two games? Sixteen 3s on Tuesday? The Spurs weren’t that open. They were just that hot.

This looked like homecoming or senior night or something, one of those cinematic nights when the air feels just right and the light shines just right on your face and the head cheerleader waves at you in the parking lot. It was an illusion the best players in the world can sometimes create. They can make the mechanical look magical.

It’s going too far to say something like this was inevitable in this series, but the atmospheric conditions were right for this kind of storm. Green is a 43-percent 3-point shooter who only shoots when he’s open. Neal is a heat-check kind of guy who has made 40 percent of his 3s in his career. They were playing a team that understandably didn’t seem convinced those two could beat them, and Game 3 was the first night they had.

Neal and Green aren’t likely to shoot like that again, but there is no obvious way for Miami to (1) get control over San Antonio’s 3-point shooters, (2) keep the Spurs out of the lane and (3) have Wade in the game at the same time.

In short, the Spurs don’t need to make 16 3s for their 3-point shooting to be a huge issue for Miami. After Tuesday night, the threat of it is trouble enough.

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