Led by an absolute onslaught of three-pointers by unlikely characters Gary Neal and Danny Green, the San Antonio Spurs lit up the Heat in Tuesday's Game 3 with 16 long balls—a NBA Finals record.
The historical outburst put the game out of reach, but Miami didn't do itself any favors. Seemingly every player on the court struggled, and the defending champions looked lethargic throughout a second half that concluded in a 36-point drubbing of LeBron James and company.
Now down 2-1 and in danger of not even making it back to South Beach for Game 6, the Heat are running out of time to fix their glaring problems before being bounced from the NBA Finals for the second time in three years.
Let's take a look at how each Miami Heat player can improve heading into Thursday's Game 4.
LeBron James: Take Over the Game
Anybody with eyes could predict this one.
LeBron's confidence in his ability to take over a game was put into question after the 2011 Finals, and it hasn't taken long after the Heat's dismal Game 3 for the critics to come calling. And while it's certainly a song that's been sung before, it's still truer than ever.
We've all been 'Witnesses' to what LBJ can do on the basketball court, that much is certain. But many of us have also seen him play a little too unselfishly, or a little too reserved.
The Heat were able to pull away in Game 2 largely because of James' dominance in rebounding, passing, scoring and defending. And they can't afford for him to falter in any of the four categories.
Nobody on the court will be as talented in each aspect of the game as LeBron. But if he doesn't prove it in Game 4, his legacy will end up suffering.
Dwyane Wade: Save Some Energy for Second Half
So far in the NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade has come out strong in each game only to fade down the stretch.
He was able to get away with doing so in Game 2, when he put up all of his 10 points in the first half. But Miami needs to be able to win games even when they don't play lights-out, and much of that has to do with what Wade is able to do offensively.
D-Wade's knees are undoubtedly bothering him greatly, which is a big reason why he hasn't been able to play with consistency in these playoffs. But surely he can figure out a way to keep enough in the tank for a late third-quarter run or to give his team a boost in the final minutes.
Simply put, Wade looks gassed and completely uninterested in the second half of games and that can't continue if the Heat want to get back to South Beach.
Chris Bosh: Neutralize Tim Duncan
I know this is asking a lot from any player, especially Chris Bosh with how he's been playing in this playoff run. But if there's one thing Bosh can do, it's take Duncan out of the game as much as possible.
Surprisingly enough, any advantage the Spurs have gotten in this series hasn't really come from Duncan. He's been solid as usual, but nothing pops out other than his 20-point, 14-rebound performance in Game 1. But with his team just two wins away from a fifth NBA title, you can bet that Duncan will be going for the jugular in Games 4 and 5.
Bosh hasn't held his own on the blocks with anyone this postseason, but he'll need to do so against Duncan. The Spurs are out-rebounding the Heat in key moments this series, and that all starts with The Big Fundamental.
Mario Chalmers: Let it Fly
No player's production fell as sharply as Mario Chalmers' did between Games 2 and 3.
Chalmers led the Heat in points in Game 2, finishing with 19 on a hot-shooting performance. He got to the free-throw line with ease, knocked down deep shots and drove the lane.
But in Game 3, Chalmers went 0-for-5 and laid a goose egg in the points column. He also only notched one assist.
Even though he's hardly a traditional point guard in Miami's system that often features LeBron facilitating the offense, Chalmers' ability to add mobility to the offense and penetrate is often a huge X-factor for the Heat.
He's one of the best three-point shooters on the team and needs to prove it in Game 4.
Udonis Haslem: Box Out Kawhi Leonard
Neither of these teams are strong on the boards, but San Antonio has been pounding Miami on the offensive glass. This is in large part due to Kawhi Leonard flying to the basket unguarded.
Leonard has notched at least 10 rebounds in each of the three Finals games, as the Heat forwards have neglected to pay any attention to boxing out for rebounds. Much of that starts with Haslem, whose biggest contributions come by bruising up the other team and doing the dirty work.
The Heat need Haslem to enter Game 4 with a killer's mentality and take Leonard off the boards. The Spurs are getting way too much on second-chance opportunities.
Ray Allen: Stick to Your Guns
It's no coincidence that Ray Allen was 3-for-5 in Miami's Game 2 win, and 0-for-0 on Tuesday night.
The big drop-off didn't have anything to do with playing time–he played 19 minutes. He just wasn't sticking to his usual plan in Miami, which has been to come off screens and do whatever it takes to get a glimpse of a three-pointer.
Allen came off the dribble a couple of times in Game 3 and attacked the basket, which is a couple times too many. The NBA's all-time three-point leader seemed to have slipped out of his playoff slump, but that hasn't stopped him from getting away from his game.
This isn't like his situation in Boston where they relied on him a lot more offensively. Now, he's playing in a system where he's required to do one thing–shoot the long ball.
Chris Andersen: Stop Switching Defenders
Miami's biggest problem in Game 3 was their on-ball switch in the defensive zone, and you saw how well that worked out on the perimeter.
I saw Chris Andersen rotate up to take the ball-carrier a handful of times when the Spurs would set screens, and it always created a mismatch that San Antonio was quick to take advantage of. Often times on Tuesday, that would be in the form of a Danny Green trey in Birdman's face.
Andersen is a menace on the blocks and cutting for open baskets, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that perimeter defense isn't his cup of tea.
If the Heat's guards cannot contain San Antonio's sharpshooters and keep them somewhat off-balanced, something tells me Birdman's 6'11" frame won't be able to, either.
Mike Miller: Don't Let Spurs Shooters Cancel You Out
Mike Miller is the only player on Miami's current rotation that I had trouble finding flaws in Game 3. He was quick to pull the trigger, going 5-for-5 from long range, and his minus-three rating was actually a team-best stat.
However, when Danny Green and Gary Neal started pulling up from Albuquerque and draining everything in sight, Miller's effect on the game completely disappeared.
For Miller to give the Heat an advantage, he must not only knock down his shots, but contain the player he's guarding. He simply didn't do that in Game 3, letting Neal get away from him time after time and being an eyesore defensively.
The Heat desperately need Miller to continue his unconscious shooting, but he can't forget about the other end of the court. Not when players like Gary Neal are knocking everything down.
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