Game 3 road win bodes well for Spurs

Game 3 road win bodes well for Spurs

Posted by mikemcgraw on Thu, 06/12/2014 - 15:00

There's no better way to establish NBA Finals dominance than winning Game 3 on the road, especially when the series is tied 1-1.

Back in 1991, most local fans probably braced for failure when the Bulls headed out to Los Angeles tied 1-1 with the Lakers. But the Bulls set the tone right away with a 94-86 victory in Game 3 at the Forum and won three in a row.

There are other memorable examples of Game 3 road wins, especially in that era – Bulls at Blazers in '92; Pistons at Blazers in '90; Lakers at Pistons in '88.

So Tuesday's result seems to bode well for the Spurs, who scored 71 points in the first half on the way to a 111-92 victory at Miami.

Going back to 1960, I found 14 examples of a road team winning Game 3 of the Finals while the series was tied 1-1. Twelve of the Game 3 winners went on to win the championship.

The only teams that didn't were Miami, which took a 2-1 lead at Dallas in 2011; and Seattle in 1978. The '78 Finals were a little odd, because Game 1 was played in Seattle, then Games 2 and 3 were in Washington.

--San Antonio's Game 3 victory demonstrated something else. While LeBron James' big decision in 2010 was the defining transaction of this era, a less-publicized move a year later also had a huge impact on the current NBA.

Remember, at the time the Spurs had won just a single playoff series over a three-year span, including a first-round loss to Memphis in 2011. The Duncan-Parker-Ginobili era seemed to be puttering to a conclusion.

Then on draft night 2011, the Spurs made a move that changed everything, trading George Hill to Indiana for the No. 15 pick of the first round, Kawhi Leonard.

San Antonio has made other smart moves – such as adding Danny Green and Tiago Splitter, resurecting Boris Diaw. But Leonard gave the team another legitimate star who made things easier for the other three. Ginobili can now pick his spots, Duncan is less of an emphasis and the Spurs are looking very good.

Instead of ending, the Spurs' run of dominance might continue for a few more years. Duncan is 38, but coach Gregg Popovich talked in Chicago this season about how hard Duncan is working to stay in shape so he can keep playing.

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