San Antonio Spurs are a win away from a fifth NBA title after easing past the Miami Heat 107-86 on the road to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the 2014 NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard shone once more as he put up 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Spurs, as all 13 players were on the scoresheet in a simply dazzling display of team basketball.
Tim Duncan added 10 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and is now 14 minutes shy of passing Kareem Abdul Jabbar for the most minutes ever played in the NBA Playoffs.
LeBron James once again led Miami with 28 points, but received no help with no other Heat player able to score 13 points or more other than James.
WHAT DECIDED THE GAME?
SAN ANTONIO’S BALL MOVEMENT was simply outstanding and if you play team ball where everyone shares the basketball and executes their offensive sets, while playing smart defence, then your chances of victory are as near to 100 percent as you can get.
The Spurs did that emphatically. Team basketball is a joy to watch. In these Finals, Miami have relied too much on LeBron, especially in Game 4. Need proof? The Spurs passed the ball 380 times compared to the Heat’s 267, a difference of 113.
San Antonio have been accused of playing boring basketball and some fans who share a dislike for the Euroleague have said the Spurs play “European basketball”.
Gregg Popovich though doesn’t care. He’s getting wins, and the basketball is styled around how Europeans play and it’s so far destroying the Miami Heat.
LEBRON HAD NO HELP from Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh and that cost Miami.
Or did it?
The Spurs were playing so well, perhaps if Wade’s 10 points had ballooned to 20 it wouldn’t have mattered.
James was outstanding for Miami but that was it. He got no help from Wade, who finished 3/13 from the field and Bosh who went 5/11 for 12 points. Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers running the point was a catastrophe – but that has been the case throughout the series anyway.
NUMBERS don’t lie. So here are some notables…
Rebounds: Heat 27-44 Spurs
Assists: Heat 13-25 Spurs
Points off turnovers: Heat 12-21 Spurs
FG %: Heat 45.1 – 57-.1 Spurs
Simply put: All the fanfare and confidence that Miami and their fans show before they head to the Finals is justified normally. But this time, Miami are playing second fiddle to a team that is literally streets ahead of them right now.
Australia’s Patty Mills was outstanding off the bench for San Antonio. Shot the ball well, and with confidence as Tony Parker wasn’t at his best. Mind you, he didn’t need to be. Mills had 14 points in 16 minutes.
France’s Eurobasket MVP, Tony Parker scored 19 points and was the Spurs’ second highest scorer, but was careless with the ball, explaining the 4 turnovers. If the Spurs had incredibly managed to lose this game, questions of Parker’s performance would have been questioned. Not a main talking point, but it would have been mentioned.
Parker’s French team-mate Boris Diaw had 8 points as he settles into his starting role as a replacement for Tiago Splitter. So far in these four games, Diaw has totalled an index rating of +45, higher than any player in these Finals.
Argentina’s Manu Ginobili only managed 7 points and turned the ball over 4 times. At times he looked like he was trying too hard.
Brazil’s Tiago Splitter is adjusting to his role off the bench nicely. Shot 3/4 from the field for 6 points and even got a steal as well.
Italy’s Marco Belinelli and Australia’s Aron Baynes all played cameo roles in the latest Spurs win.