Wednesday June 12th, 2013

San Antonio's offense characteristically makes brilliant use of its role players, and the Spurs made particularly great use of sharpshooting guard Gary Neal on Tuesday night. Pristine ball movement netted plenty of open looks for Neal, and he responded in kind with an outstanding first half: 14 total points on 4-of-6 shooting from long range, three of which came on a buzzer-beating three to help close the first half and rebuff a Heat run.

A basket from Dwyane Wade had tied the game at 44-all with just 37 seconds remaining in the first half, but Neal's make came on the heels of another Spurs three-pointer (which was bridged by a Miami turnover), giving the Spurs a lightning-quick 6-0 burst. Neal didn't play all that much for the Spurs in their Western Conference finals series against the Grizzlies, but has taken on a more prominent role against the Heat's defensive pressure. Rather than rely on the still-raw Cory Joseph, Gregg Popovich has opted to increase the minutes of the quick-firing Neal to serve as a pressure release against Miami's traps. That decision played out beautifully for the Spurs in the first half of Game 3, as Neal led all scorers through the first 24 minutes of action.

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