Make it and take it.
That rule of many a playground court applies to the 2013 NBA Finals so far and probably will again Tuesday night in San Antonio during Game 3 between the Heat and Spurs.
Not in keeping the ball for another offensive possession after a made shot. Make the shot, take the game.
For all the fuss over how many times the Heat got to the free-throw line in Game 1, how many shots LeBron James did or didn’t take or even San Antonio’s turnovers in Games 1 and 2, each game came down to the most basic of basketball skills.
Hit the open shot.
San Antonio won Game 1 by hitting its open shots while the Heat threw up bricks, especially from outside. The Heat won Game 2 with a June South Florida downpour of three-pointers while, outside of Danny Green, San Antonio couldn’t hit the broad side of a Shaq.
The Heat, which averaged 26 free throws per game during the first three rounds, shot only17 free throws in Game 1. Yet, the Heat got to the line three fewer times in Game 2. Heat rebounding? A plus-9 rebounding margin in Game 1, minus-8 in Game 2, nine offensive rebounds in each game.
An increase in Spurs turnovers (four to 17 in Game 2) and points off those turnovers (eight to 19) can’t be overlooked.
“I thought our ball pressure was better, our attention to detail was better and we’re a team that needs to force turnovers,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “We prey on getting turnovers and [in Game 1] we had four turnovers, so we had to make a difference.”
Then again, the Heat forced five turnovers in the first quarter of Game 2 and got points only from a Mario Chalmers’ three-pointer following a shot-clock violation. Off the two turnovers that resulted in transition plays, the Heat got only the increased heart rate from a wind sprint down the floor.
“Tonight, they were hitting and we weren’t rotating to them fast enough,” said Green, whose three-pointers kept San Antonio in the game in the first half. “They did a good job of that. [James] was just being patient with the double teams, finding guys and they were knocking down shots.”
The Heat shot 32 percent (8 of 25) on three-pointers in Game 1, with James, Chris Bosh and Shane Battier a combined 1 for 12. Chalmers, Ray Allen, Mike Miller and Norris Cole went 7 for 13 as a group.
So, in Game 2, the players who had it, shot it — Chalmers, Allen, Miller and Cole went 8 for 13. Just as important, the players who didn’t have it didn’t keep pounding their heads against the brick wall they began building in Game 1 — James took two threes in the first three quarters, Battier and Bosh none. The Heat led 75-65 in the midst of a 33-5 run that brought on garbage time.
As San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich snapped and scowled through Sunday’s postgame media session, he kept coming back to the combined 10-for-33 shooting by forward Tim Duncan, guard Manu Ginobili and point guard Tony Parker.
“If you turn it over the way we did tonight and you don’t shoot well, it’s a bad combination. It will be very tough to win,” Popovich said.
While acknowledging the Heat’s defense, Parker said, “I had some good looks, Manu had some good looks and Timmy had some great looks. Just happens sometimes.”
Duncan concurred, at least about his own shot selection. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra admitted after the game that Duncan and Parker both missed shots they made in Game 1.
“We have to execute and, mainly, not turn the ball over,” Green said.