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Heat, James finish stronger over Spurs in Game 2

The NBA Finals got back to normalcy on June 8. With the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs playing in working air conditioning for Game 2, and with LeBron James lasting the full 48 minutes, this latest turning point in the NBA Finals had no asterisks. The Heat and Spurs just played down to the wire, with James dominating at various points, until Miami found a way to close San Antonio out and even the series with a 98-96 win.

James, Heat stand tall for 48 minutes in Game 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Heat and James started slow in the first quarter, as James only had one dunk and a few turnovers while the Spurs held the early lead. But the visitors stabilized by halftime, and then James caught fire for 14 points in a high scoring third period.

Despite James' hot steak, the Spurs still outscored the Heat by 35-34 in the third, clinging to a one-point lead. However, missed free throws would loom large later on, as Tony Parker missed two after Mario Chalmers elbowed him on a flagrant foul, followed by two misses from Tim Duncan. Nevertheless, three-pointers from Boris Diaw and Parker put the Spurs back ahead by 93-92.

While James led Miami with 35 points, Chris Bosh made the shot that could shift the NBA Finals, as his three-pointer put the Heat ahead for good. James then made one free throw before the Spurs came up empty on their next possession. They counted on their defense to give them one last shot instead of putting the Heat on the line, yet Bosh found Dwayne Wade on a bounce pass and let him put Game 2 away.

A buzzer-beating three made no difference for the Spurs, as they lost their home court advantage after a Game 1 win, just like the Indiana Pacers did in the Eastern Conference finals. With the NBA Finals now in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, the Heat only need to stay perfect at home to clinch a three-peat in Game 6.

San Antonio now has to win at least one road game to take back the championship. But since Miami never loses twice in a row in the playoffs, a Game 3 Spurs loss could end the NBA Finals, since at least one two-game Heat losing streak would be required after that. But without James' cramps and a lack of AC, closing out the Heat is now a more difficult task for the Spurs.

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