Well, that was fast.
Did we just get robbed of a fantastic seven game series, repeating last year?
That’s correct, but the only robbery has been by the Miami Heat. They robbed their fans of their hard-earned money, their time, and excitement.
Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals were Miami’s, since they sat back all season and played possum when it came to the No. 1 seed. In the Leastern Conference, they could have cruised to 62 wins, if they didn’t get that sense of cockiness mid-way through and allow Indiana to glide by. It would have given them the opportunity to have Games 1 and 2 on their home floor, and start the series with the upper hand.
In any series in sports, we’re aware the first two games are tone-setters.
Teams are trying to get a feel for how the opposition is going to defend them, and coaches have to make their first adjustments when it comes to offensive schemes. Then, it becomes about execution, and which players can step into the spotlight long enough to get wins in the later stages of the series. If Miami would’ve had the first two at home — considering how they played in San Antonio despite temperature mishaps — they could have won in front of their home crowd.
Now, LeBron James and company could have just played their last home game of the year.
As I’m sitting there watching the first quarter unfold, clearly noticing who has the energy advantage, it dawned upon me. Whoever expected these San Antonio Spurs to die a horrible death, just because Miami has the best player in the series, is an utter fool.
It may not be the trackway the last 16 years of NBA history has gone, but the better team knocks off the best player. Travel back to every NBA Finals since 1999, and you’ll run into four Spurs’ championships. In those victories — against the Knicks, Nets, Pistons, and Cavaliers — the best collective team won. From 2000-2002 (three years), Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers were the best team on Earth. Partly because, they had the two best players.
What about 2004? The Lakers were coming off playoff disappointment and implemented Karl Malone and Gary Payton into their starting lineup. They failed in the Finals, losing to ….. the better team — Detroit.
2008? The best player in the Finals was the league MVP, Kobe Bryant. Boston downed him in six games, and Kevin Garnett made the public know anything is possible. The Celtics were the better team, and made a mockery of the entire league that season.
Sticking with this current Heat team, what about 2011? LeBron was the single most hated guy in sports, but he was also the most dominant. Dallas obliterated him in six, and Mark Cuban smoked 30 cigars afterwards.
You rarely find an instance where the best individual beats a better squad. 2006 can be that exception, which included Dwyane Wade turning into a callous butcher and slicing the Mavericks in six. Miami likely didn’t have the better team, but one guy said enough is enough.
History repeats itself.
It doesn’t matter how athletically gifted LeBron is, or how many different ways he can score, because San Antonio deserves this.
There should be six rings on Tim Duncan‘s hands after this is all said and done Sunday, but there won’t. Jitters got the best of Kawhi Leonard last year in Game 6, and Manu Ginobili was a turnover machine down the stretch.
One beautiful aspect of sports, though, is redemption.
Who else is redeeming himself in more satisfying fashion than Leonard?
Raising up to throw the hammer down on Birdman (Chris Andersen) is one thing. Having the scowl on his face and confidence to try anything on the road …. is another.
After shooting 6-of-14 in the first two games at home (nine points per game), Leonard has put his foot down. On the road, he’s 17-of-25 in Miami for the past two games (24.5 points per game).
If there was ever a time to point the finger at how this 3-1 lead transpired, it’s now. Miami, sometimes, gets too much credit for how they play. Calm down, it’s true. Since they do have LeBron, the ball is finding teammates most of the time. James is a gifted passing talent, and one that understands the flow to the offense. However, the ball was sticking extremely too much in last night’s loss.
When you play San Antonio, it’s truly about getting them to move, and killing them with their own murder weapon.
If you’re predicated on hero ball, they’ll eat you alive 90 percent of the time. Ask Kevin Durant and his sidekick Russ …. or is it the other way around these days? Miami ran into the central problem of not having enough ball movement, and it cost them.
During the 48 minutes, San Antonio delivered 380 passes to one another, as we know they’re the most unselfish team in history, with a coach that gets irked with superstar ball. That’s 7.9 passes per minute, and you have to throw the factor of them not having the ball for ALL 48 of those minutes.
Miami? Just 267 passes were made throughout the game, which translates to 5.6 per minute. When you have two of the 10 best players in the world on your roster, it’s going to happen.
The flip side: When one of those players (Wade) ends up hurting you instead of helping, you don’t have enough ball movement or play makers to beat these Spurs.
What do I really blame? Or give credit for, I guess you can say? Without a doubt, San Antonio’s makeup of overseas players, who have the vision drilled into their head of “this ball has to move on a yo-yo.”
Also, when you dive into it, the European, Australian, & South American talents on this team are just used to playing high minutes, with incredible pace. It helps them survive extreme temperatures, gives them an advantage in endurance, and makes them thrive in the American game. In addition, you can’t even deny that foreign basketball leagues are doing a better job of maintaining the unselfish playstyle in the sport. It’s just the truth.
Miami didn’t fall on their face in Games 3 and 4. San Antonio took them by the neck, and slammed their heads into the ground.
Yet, the narrative coming away from this series will be the lack of composure by the Heat on their home court. It’s how the world of reporting is today, and Miami is still the sexier name, the bigger market, and they have the superstars.
The Spurs just play basketball flawlessly, and the term “boring” will forever be attached to their brand, because reputations take a while to change. But, line up Michael Jordan‘s Bulls, Kobe’s Lakers, and Paul Pierce‘s Celtics as competition for this team. I know I’ll still be picking a Texas-sized spanking.
San Antonio decided to write a completely different story this season.
The lede could’ve used some work, and the reader may have even threw down the paper back in December.
They answered back by writing a body we’re used to reading, and taking the one seed. Miami just ended up being fellow competition in the class.
Conclusions tie everything together, and that’s what the Spurs’ will entail. Everything they’ve worked for over the last three years with Kawhi Leonard, has been put on display.
This ends Sunday, and it’s the most glorious outcome the NBA could have wanted, and needed. A team will be rewarded for mastering the art of the game.