SAN ANTONIO – An NBA Finals team would be expected to have had a strong road record en route to the championship series. And then there are the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs are 3-5 on the road this postseason, 0-2 away from home following a loss. After losing 98-96 in Game 2 at home Sunday night, the Spurs are knotted at a game apiece with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. San Antonio now hits the road for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, facing the challenge of giving Miami its first home loss this postseason (8-0).
"It doesn't matter what we've been through before," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. "We're not going to hang our heads. We're going to regroup and come out ready for the next one. We know we can play better.
"We know we haven't played our greatest game, even in the first one we did win."
After a Game 1 victory that was aided by LeBron James' fourth-quarter departure because of cramps and dehydration caused by failed air conditioning, San Antonio was collectively absent at crucial times in the closing moments Sunday night.
San Antonio led 87-85 with 6:43 remaining in when Miami guard Mario Chalmers was charged with a flagrant foul for elbowing Spurs guard Tony Parker on a drive. Parker, however, missed both free throws. Duncan was fouled on a shot attempt during the ensuing possession, but missed both free throws.
From that point on, the Heat went on a 13-9 run to seal the victory and even the Finals. The Spurs shot 35.3 percent, missed 4-of-6 free throws and had two turnovers in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
"We didn't take advantage of things. We made bad decisions," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "The ball stuck to us. I think we were trying to do it [individually]. We didn't do it as a group. We tried to do it individually and we're not good enough to do that."
In other words, the Spurs need better offensive production, which has been much more of an issue away from home than at the AT&T Center. Prior to Sunday night, San Antonio had scored 100 points in nine straight home postseason games. However, the Spurs have failed to reach triple-digits in four of their previous eight road postseason games. And even more, they'll be reminded of fourth-quarter Finals failures upon their return to Miami.
San Antonio was in position to win a fifth title when it took a 94-89 lead with 28 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals. Miami guard Ray Allen's 3-pointer, however, sparked a late charge that helped force overtime. The Heat eventually won Game 6 and then earned the title with a 95-88 victory in the decisive Game 7.
The Spurs lost 113-101 to the Heat in Miami on Jan. 26 in their first return since the Finals. San Antonio is actually 1-7 against the Heat on the road since James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces in 2010.
So will Game 6 of the Finals be in the back of the Spurs' minds when they return to Miami?
"Yes and no," Parker said. "It's a different season. For me personally, I'm definitely not going to think about that the next two games. I'm going to focus on what I can do to help the team win. Going to be big games coming up."
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