NBA Finals 2013, Heat vs. Spurs Game 3: LeBron James stifled

USA TODAY Sports

How do you stop the best player in the world? According to Danny Green, just let him beat himself.

To say LeBron James struggled in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night doesn't do justice to what took place on the floor over those 48 minutes. The world's indisputable best player struggled with every aspect of his game, and it raises the question:

How did the San Antonio Spurs manage to slow him down?

"We've done a great job helping each other on team defense," San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green said after the game. "But obviously we know what kind of player LeBron is. We know he's not at his best right now. He missed a lot of shots he normally makes. We're sure in Game 4 he's going to come out a lot different."

The strange stat line for James begins with just 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting from the field while going just 1-of-5 from the three-point line. Incredibly, he didn't get to the free throw line all night, the first such instance since December 2009.

What will he need to do to be better in Game 4?

"I got to be better," James remarked after the game. "If I'm better, we're better. I'm putting it on my shoulders."

That's the kind of statement that causes one to think that San Antonio might have awakened a sleeping giant in James. But for a player who shot 57 percent during the regular season, to turn in a 33 percent performance on the game's greatest stage will make some eyes pop.

The Spurs stifled James defensively and bothered him throughout the night, taking him out of his comfort zone by challenging him inside. Every time he got the ball in the post, San Antonio keyed in on him and forced the ball out of his hands. When he did shoot, his looks were especially bad and of the low-percentage variety:

Bmh-s07ccae5wdm

(Via NBA.com/stats)

James was 2-of-14 from outside the paint. None of his other looks came easily as he the Spurs were flawless in their rotations and contested nearly everything. Despite all of that, his teammates aren't worried about his ability to bounce back and become himself again.

"He'll make the adjustment and he'll be his normal great self," added Dwyane Wade.

Danny Green, who finished with a game-high 27 points for the Spurs, may have given James and the Heat some bulletin board material with a parting shot:

It's not just us stopping LeBron," he said. "He's kind of stopped himself out there and we're getting a little lucky."

(All quotes via NBA live streaming)

More from SB Nation:

Spurs crush Heat: Who needs the Big 3? | GIFs

Spurs fans troll Heat with "Seven Nation Army"

Ziller: LeBron is the evolutionary Bird

Is Jason Kidd the next Nets coach?

NBA mock draft: Best-case scenarios | Scouting reports | Big Board

Julius Erving and the loss of innocence.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.