Thursday morning update: 1) Spurs point guard Tony Parker indicated he plans to play tonight despite a hamstring strain. He gave the same answer this morning to three questions about his hamstring: "I'll be ready to go."
2) ESPN's Brian Windhorst, quoting sources, reported the Heat is considering starting Mike Miller tonight in place of Udonis Haslem. The move would get more shooters on the floor. Miller is 10 for 11 on threes in these Finals.
If you haven't seen the Wednesday buzz column that was posted overnight -- with a lot of UM/NCAA news --- please see the last post. Also has news of a UM hoop signing:
Here are a bunch of NBA Finals notes from today (Colleague Joe Goodman will have a story on LeBron James posted later):
SAN ANTONIO – ABC announcer and Hall of Fame guard Magic Johnson said off the air Wednesday he is “shocked by the way” LeBron James played in Game 3 of The Finals and implored him to stop deferring as much to teammates.
Johnson also said that regardless of the results of these Finals, the Heat needs to change its roster.
“No matter what happens, things have to change with this team,” Johnson said on a conference call. “Everyone has caught up to them. Teams are not afraid of them. They have adjusted to the Big Three.”
Asked how losing The Finals would hurt James’ legacy, Johnson said: “It may take a little hit, but I don’t think much. What I think you may see is the end of the Big Three.”
But trading a member of the Big Three this offseason would seem unlikely.
Though James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can exercise opt-out clauses in the summer of 2014, Bosh has said in the past he wants to spend his entire career here and Wade’s affinity for South Florida and the Heat is well established.
The Heat also believes James is happy here.
As for James’ play in this series, Johnson said he “has to score points. He’s still trying to get everybody involved. That can’t be his game plan. Dwyane Wade is what he is now. You know he can’t give you 25, 30 points…. Chris Bosh is a great player but not a dominant force. You are a dominant force! He should know that when you come on the road, you can’t expect Mario Chalmers to score 19 points….
“He has to take a more assertive role as far as scoring, especially in the [first half]. I want him to be more like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan than like me. This is the worst team Miami could play – they play so well together.”
James shot 2 for 14 outside the paint in Game 3 and is 7 for 30 on those shots (23.3 percent) in this series. Should James keep taking those shots or should he try to force the issue against a Spurs defense that is determined not to allow him to penetrate?
“You’ve got to do a combination,” he said, emphasizing the need for James to get out in transition. “On the half-court side, he knows guys are sliding over. He can’t go all the way to the basket. Pull up for a 5, 8, 10 footer. Hit that midrange shot.”
The Heat was outscored by 32 points with James in the game Tuesday, the worst plus/minus of his career. What’s more, he had no free throw attempts for the first time in a game since December 2009.
### Ray Allen said the responsibility of fixing the problems that plagued the Heat in Game 3 extend beyond the players.
“Our coaches have to do a better job of getting D-Wade more involved, getting C.B. more involved,” he said. “Mike Miller had a great game, but we didn’t really look for him down the stretch.”
### After scoring 22 points combined in the first half of the past two games, Wade has managed just four combined in the past two second halves, on 2 for 11 shooting, including 2 for 8 in Game 3.
“I got some shots in the second half that I liked – I just missed them,” he said. “Second half, we all need to be better.”
Asked if there’s a correlation between his knee injury and second-half production, Wade said: “If it is, I won’t tell you.”
### Johnson, asked about Wade, mentioned that with players who get older: “Your ego won’t allow you to say you can’t do the same things you used to do. You’re still thinking you’re the same player, but your body would tell you something different.”
### Mario Chalmers said there was “dead silence” during the team’s review of the Game 3 film today. Bosh said what became clear was “we didn’t give the effort we needed to give. It’s really embarrassing to be a part of.”
### The Big Three combined to average 64.6 points per game during the regular season. They’re averaging 43.3 in this series.
### The Heat has won 11 games in a row after losses, by an average margin of 19.7 points. And Miami has followed its five previous playoff losses with wins by margins of 37, 18, 11, 23 and 19.
### The Heat’s 36-point drubbing Tuesday not only was its most lopsided loss in the Big Three era, but the third-worst loss in NBA Finals history.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker, slowed by a hamstring injury, hopes to play in Game 4 but said he and coach Gregg Popovich will not decide until they see how he feels on Thursday.
An MRI revealed Parker has a Grade 1 strain, which is the mildest level of strain. He did not participate in light shooting drills that were open to the media on Wednesday.
“I’m day to day,” said Parker, who sustained the injury early in the second half of Game 3. “It depends on when I wake up [Thursday], how I feel.”
He said he would not play if this were a regular season game.
“I want to wait until [Thursday] before I make a decision whether he should play or not,” Popovich said. “A lot will have to do with what happens to him during the day, and how I think his play will affect our team, whether good or bad.”
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said if Parker misses the game, “or if we have him limited, it’s going to be very, very difficult. We need his speed, his judgment, his pick and roll.”
### Several Spurs opined on LeBron James’ offensive struggles.
“It’s LeBron stopping himself out there,” guards Danny Green said. “I hope he continues to miss shots… Normally, you don’t see this happening to the best guys in the league in the Finals.”
Ginobili said when James “gets to the paint, we’re all there. We’re not giving him lanes to the rim.”
Green said he and Kawhi Leonard each defended James about the same amount in Game 3. “We’re just contesting all his shots,” Leonard said.
Said Tim Duncan: “We’re guarding him with five guys.”
### According to Elias, Spurs backup guard Gary Neal’s 24 points in Game 3 were the most by an undrafted player in an NBA Finals game since John Starks scored 27 for the Knicks against Houston in Game 6 of the 1994 Finals.
Neal played in Turkey, Italy and Spain before finally making it to the NBA this season. The Spurs gave him an unexpected invitation to a mini-camp, then invited him to join their summer league team in Las Vegas, which he parlayed into a training camp invitation.
Accepting the Vegas invitation last summer meant canceling a trip to Atlantis for his honeymoon. “I had to kind of just smooth it over with my wife,” he said. “She decided it would be a good thing if we went to Vegas instead, so I could make an NBA push.”
### Neal, who averaged 9.5 points in 68 games this season, is hardly the only Spurs’ only somewhat surprising success story. Green, cut three times previously (including twice by the Spurs) leads all scorers in this series with 56 points --- more than James’ 50 and Dwyane Wade’s 43.
Green said if somebody told him a week ago that he would be leading the NBA Finals in scoring through three games, “I would say, ‘You’re lying. Stop messing with me.’”
His 16 three-pointers are the most over three NBA Finals games in history, topping Ray Allen’s previous mark of 15.
Popovich said when he signed Green for a third time, his former coach at North Carolina (Roy Williams) talked to him about having the confidence to sustain an NBA career.
"Coach Williams really convinced me that he deserved another shot,” Popovich said.
### Since the NBA Finals went to a 2-3-2 format in 1985, 12 series have been tied 1-1 after two games. The Game 3 winner had gone on to win 92 percent of those series.
### After posting 34 and 29.7 ratings for the first two Finals games, WPLG-10 generated a 28.4 for Game 3, a number diminished by the lopsided score in the fourth quarter. Substantially more Dade/Broward residents watched Game 7 of the Heat-Pacers Eastern Finals than any Finals game so far, according to Nielsen Media Research.