The rematch wasn’t quite what we hoped for after a 7-game thriller of 2013. But with the Western Conference being far superior to the East all season, were you really surprised the NBA Finals ended up following suit? The San Antonio Spurs made easy, and I mean easy work of the two-time defending Champion Miami Heat. The Spurs finished off the Heat in 5 games, but if not for missed free-throws late in game 2, it could have been a sweep.
It looked like it would be a close, hard-fought series after through two. Game 1 was close until LeBron James suffered the cramps stemming from the AC going out at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. That’s when the Spurs pulled away. But the Heat bounced back in game 2, thanks in part to those previously mentioned missed free-throws by the Spurs. But then the series went back to Miami, and San Antonio showed their road-warrior spirit, and just ran the Heat of their own court, TWICE.
It was surprising to see Miami, a team led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to show so little fight. Wade was absent most of the season, looking like an old 32-year-old despite all the regular season rest he was given. Miami didn’t use Bosh appropriately and James, despite being the best player on the planet, is only one person. It didn’t help that their starting point guard Mario Chalmers, and bench guys like Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Norris Cole gave them close to nothing on either end of the floor.
Ok, that’s enough about what the Heat didn’t do. Let’s talk about what the new NBA Champs did to win. They played team basketball. When you can name 3 or 4 players all worthy of winning Finals MVP, you know you’ve done something right. Tim Duncan, the 17-year veteran was the most consistent, surpassing Magic Johnson for most double-doubles in Finals history. Manu Ginobili put a horrible 2013 Finals behind him and turned back the clock. I mean can we talk about that poster dunk followed by a 3 in game 5? How about Boris Diaw, a guy who couldn’t stay on the Charlotte Bobcats roster a year ago. As a big man, he was a better facilitator than all of Miami’s guards put together in this series! And finally the eventual winner, 22-year-old Kawhi Leonard. After foul trouble kept him off the floor in games 1 and 2, boy oh boy did this kid step up and put San Antonio on his back. Big shots, big defense. It was great to see. In fact, basically everything the Spurs did in this series was great to watch. The unselfish ball movement, the consistent defense. Basketball fans got to enjoy the work of Gregg Popovich, who is in the conversation of greatest coaches to ever grace the sidelines. It doesn’t matter what pieces he’s given, he finds a way to make them fit into his system. And it’s a system that has made San Antonio, a small market don’t forget, the toast of the NBA for nearly two decades.
So that’s it. Another great NBA season is over. But with the draft 10-days away, as well as free agency upon us, the story-lines continue. Who goes number 1 to Cleveland? Will this loss mean James opting out and leaving Miami? Will Duncan retire on top? Will Kevin Love be with the Timberwolves come the start of next season? What happens with Donald Sterling and the Clippers? And so much more.