LeBron James, who left Cleveland for more help, who came to the Heat for nights like Sunday when teammates carried him for a change, knows it's still about the Big Three, about Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh producing beside him.
"We've got to get them into the game early, get them touches,'' he said before Game 2's win, as he does seemingly every day now. Like a mantra. Maybe a hope.
Tony Parker, who two years ago was told to take the lead in San Antonio, who ceded much to Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili until that point, understands it's about his Big Three, too.
"We've been through so much,'' he said. "We know what's at stake. We count on each other."
The story line of these NBA Finals as they move to Game 3 Tuesday night is about the inherent star power on the court. San Antonio's Big Three versus the Heat's Big Three. Hall of Famers versus Hall of Famers.
It's a storyline everyone identifies, is comfortable talking about and, ultimately, you figure will decide the series. It's a star-driven league. Which team's stars play better? That's the comfortable question.
Maybe the real question is this: Which team's Big Three plays like stars? Which Troubled Two come through? This playoff run underlines each team has a shrinking Big Three. They're built around the Big One. Parker and LeBron, more and more.
Gionbili, at 35, like Wade at 31, is battling injury and age. They can still bring it. No doubt. They just can't bring it night after night, game after game, as they once did.
Ginobili's 10.7-point average these playoffs rank tied for fifth-most on the Spurs. Wade 's average of 14.1 points a game is still second on the Heat behind LeBron (25.2), but it remains a distant second unlike much of these past three years.
Duncan and Bosh? Two more questions of consistency. Duncan shot 3 of 13 in Game 2, the worst NBA Finals game of his long career. He's 37. Players age quickly in any sport in the championship rounds.
"I was awful,'' Duncan said after scoring nine points in Game 2.
Bosh reached double digits in rebounding in Game 2 for the first time in 10 games. He had 12 points. That right at his 12.3 average for the playoffs.
We constantly talk about the Big Three, as if they're the core of the team. It's a nice thought. But maybe the dynamic have changed for these team. They changed for the Heat when Wade hurt his knee late in the regular season and Bosh began to struggle as well.
In Game 2, when the Heat went on their stupefying 33-5 run, coach Erik Spoelstra called seven pick-and-roll sequences with LeBron setting a screen for Mario Chalmers. They scored on six of those seven plays.
They got 16 point in those six scores, meaning foul shots and a 3-point shot. That typically was Wade's place running that in key stretches alongside LeBron. Sunday, it was Chalmers, who had a game-high 19 points.
LeBron had 18 points. Allen had 13 points. They were the Big Three scorers that night. Basketball isn't just scoring. But it's a guideline to who matters most on a night. And, night to night, it's changing for the Heat.
If there's one thing we've learned watching the last few years, it's how well Heat president Pat Riley has constructed a full roster. A year ago, it was Mike Miller closing out the title with his shooting. Now it's Ray Miller and Chris "Birdman" Andersen energizing games.
Name a player. He's had a nice run. San Antonio is in a similar spot. After Parker and Duncan, the scoring averages are as mixed as the Heat's LeBron and Wade. Kawhi Leonard averages 13.1 points, Danny Green 10.7 these playoffs.
Ulimately, as this series lengthens, the Heat will need the best of Wade and Bosh, just like the Spurs will Duncan and Ginobili. Experience matters. Look at Wade's 21 points and Bosh's aggressiveness in Game 7 against Indiana.
So much of these two teams' concepts – their identities, as Spoelstra would say – is built into their games. There remains plenty of basketball to go. If each Big Three isn't counted on as much, it's still counted on.
This championship might not be won by the Big Three that shines throughout. Maybe it's won by the Big Three that shines just enough.Copyright © 2015, CT Now