The NBA Finals ended on Sunday, June 15th with the Spurs capping off a shocking five game beat-down of the Heat. It was a victory so dominant that it took until now to overcome the shock and rationally write about the series. Kawhi Leonard took home Finals MVP behind three incredible games to finish the series, a stretch during which he arguably outplayed LeBron James.
Meanwhile in the land of AGR, Joe Bubar takes home his first Big Shot Bob Trophy. Let’s take a look at the final tables.
Boobie won by a mere point, beating out long-time fantasy baseball rival Timothy “Taizo” Ohashi. While it would have been fitting for a Timmy to win the BSB(R) Tourney in light of Duncan’s fifth ring, he was a newcomer this year and will have to take solace in being runner-up.
Joe will have the opportunity to write a guest post (also fitting, as he’s written about sports professionally) and win an obscure NBA treat from eBay.
NBA Finals Recap
Spurs-Heat: Unfortunately for NBA fans, this year’s Finals didn’t provide the same drama as last year’s series. That said, there were still plenty of memorable moments and story-lines, though. Among other things, the series will be remembered for:
- A rematch of the 2013 Finals, with the Spurs on a publicly known vengeance quest
- Tim Duncan’s fifth ring and the fourth ring for their Big 3 (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili)
- The Heat’s fourth straight Finals appearance, but their failure to three-peat
- Kawhi Leonard’s stellar performance and ability to match up with LeBron James
- Dwyane Wade’s aging and inability to consistently produce
- The Spurs’ absolute and utter dominance, winning all four games by 15+ points and only barely losing Game 2.
- Game 1’s air conditioning malfunction and LeBron James’ ensuing cramps.
- The Spurs’ unselfish, team-oriented style of play, which resulted in easy dunks and open threes for everyone.
- The Spurs role players–Danny Green, Patty Mills, and everyone else–stepping up while the Heat role players faltered.
- The implications the series has for the Heat’s future.
Although it doesn’t feel like it now, the series was neck-and-neck to begin.
Game 1 was a close affair, with an air conditioning failure in the arena winning MVP. The Spurs led by three at the half, Miami led by four points going into the fourth (with the help of a vicious dunk from Jesus Shuttlesworth), setting up an epic final period. A four-point play from Chris Bosh put the Heat up seven with 9:38 to go.
From there, though, it was all San Antonio. Danny Green scored on dunks and threes, alike. Two stints of cramps forced LeBron James to the bench, the second of those cramps totally immobilized James. His teammates carried him to the bench, and when he asked Spoelstra to return, the coach gave him a declarative nay-no. The Spurs won the fourth quarter by 19 points, closed the game on a 31-9 run, and shot 14-16 from the field (including 6-6 from the three-point land). It was a quarter that would set the tone for the rest of the series. The Spurs won 110-95.
The Heat got their revenge in Game 2, evening up the series with staunch fourth quarter defense and timely offense from Chris Bosh. They started out slow, but an 11-point second quarter from LeBron had the two teams tied at the half. From there, it was a nail-biter all game long. The difference would come on two crucial plays–first, a crucial LeBron-to-Bosh corner three to put the Heat up two points. Next, Bosh drove and found a cutting Wade for a layup, securing a 98-96 Miami victory.
With consecutive close games and and a 1-1 split on the road, the Heat were on the road to a third straight championship. Instead, the Spurs changed history forever with a historic string of games. Game 3 saw the Spurs start off with a 41-25 first quarter lead. The lead ballooned to 21 by halftime. Miami battled back to cut the lead to seven in the third quarter, but a Belinelli three and a Leonard slam nipped that comeback in the bud. San Antonio would cruise to a 111-92 win behind a career-high 29-point (10-13 FG) performance from Kawhi Leonard, who also played great defense on James (7 turnovers).
Down 2-1, Miami knew Game 4 was a must win. No other team in Finals history had survived a 3-1 deficit. But the Spurs picked Miami’s defense apart, just as they did in Game 3. San Antonio led by seven after the first, by 17 at the half, and by 22 heading into the fourth quarter. Kawhi Leonard had another signature play, this time a ridiculous tip-slam to put the Spurs up 22 toward the end of the first half. The Heat’s spirit was broken, as were Dwyane Wade’s legs (3-13 FG). James bounced back a bit (28 points on 17 shots), but Leonard once again stole the show (20 pts on 7-12 FG, 11 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl, 3 blk, 1 tov). After their 107-86 victory, the Spurs returned home with a 3-1 series lead.
Who knows what the Heat were actually thinking going into Game 5, but Chris Bosh publicly said the Heat would win. LeBron said records are made to be broken. Instead, none of that happened, unless you count the records the Spurs set in yet another demolition of the Heat.
Miami actually started off strong, going up 22-6 in the opening minutes. The Spurs trusted their process, though, and battled back. A throwback dunk from Manu helped the Spurs take a 7-point halftime lead. Four third-quarter threes from Patty Mills gave San Antonio a 19-point lead heading into the fourth. LeBron had another game of 30+ points and 10+ rebounds, but left the game with 6:30 to play in the fourth as the Heat knew that there was no hope of a comeback against this potent Spurs team. Leonard was once again fantastic, posting another 20-10 game, and the final score of 104-87 secured another 15+ margin of victory for the most dominant championship showing in NBA history.
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