San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) high fives forward Boris Diaw (33) and guard Danny Green (4) during the first half of game three of the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Photo by Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
MIAMI - The San Antonio Spurs can move within one win of their fifth NBA title with a victory over reigning champion Miami in game four of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
San Antonio handed the Heat its first home loss of the playoffs, shooting a stunning 76 percent in the first half to win game three 111-92 Tuesday and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.
The Spurs are the first team since 1989 to return to the finals after losing a game seven in the finals the year before.
Their bruised egos simply won't let them forget last year's seventh-game loss to the Heat.
"We finally put a game together, for not the full 48 (minutes) but for as long as we could, where we did exactly what we planned to do and executed in that respect," Spurs veteran Tim Duncan said Wednesday.
"That's what we're going to need to do again."
Duncan said if the Spurs are to win Thursday they must stay with their game plan and not give the ball away, as they did in game one at Sam Antonio when they made 22 turnovers.
"I think for the most part we just need to bring that same kind of focus, take care of the ball," Duncan said.
"Execution-wise, we have a game plan in place that worked and it's about the five guys on the floor just making sure that we make as little mistakes as possible.
"I think we did a great job of that in this last game."
The two-time defending champion Heat are also looking forward to game four, confident in their ability to bounce back.
Miami is the best team in the league at rebounding from a defeat as they have won 13 consecutive playoff games following a loss.
"They came in and took care of business on our home floor, so we have to learn from it and come out in game four and make the adjustments," Heat superstar LeBron James said.
"We are going to learn from our mistakes as we always do after a loss. This the last team in the NBA that you can dig a hole against."
Miami has not dropped back-to-back playoff games since losing games three, four and five of the 2012 Eastern Conference final to Boston. The Heat went on to win the series in seven games.
Records were shattered in the Spurs' remarkable run in the first two quarters of Tuesday's contest as San Antonio led by 25 points at one stage and 71-50 at the half. They went 11 1/2 minutes without missing a shot.
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard paced their attack, scoring 16 of his career-high 29 points in the first quarter after averaging only nine points in the first two games of the series.
Tuesday's contest was reminiscent of last year's game three of the NBA Finals, when San Antonio bounced back and set a finals record for most three-pointers in a game with 16.
They went on to win 113-77, handing the Heat its worst loss in playoff history.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday that this is a different Spurs team than last year.
"I don't think about last year's game three, game four at all," Popovich said. "This is a different animal and I'm just concerned about the game tomorrow night.
"So that's the way I look at it. I don't go back in time. Just figure out what's going on now, what are we doing well, what are we doing poorly and how can you improve it."
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