The San Antonio Spurs avenged last year’s NBA Finals defeat to Miami with a devastating performance in Game Five to win their fifth ever NBA Championship.
1) Team Ball
The San Antonio Spurs style of basketball has had so many labels placed on it over the season, European Style, Team Ball, Pass Happy etc. The only label that matters is that it is successful.
On any given night San Antonio has 8 players who have a realistic chance of getting hot and pouring in 20+ points. Throughout this playoff run Danny Green has had some hot shooting nights. In Game Five his stroke was not there so Coach Popovich inserted Patty Mills for more minutes. Mills finished with 17 points. Popovich has created a formula that is truly team oriented. Following the high levels of success ‘team ball’ had during these finals it would surprise nobody if more teams copy the blueprint.
European style team ball (easily) overcame the one man show in Miami…
2) Where are the other guys?
When the ‘big three’ came together in Miami in 2010 they talked about winning ‘not one, not two, not three, not four…’ but multiple championships together. They talked about a dynasty. The idea was that none of the big three would have to play massive minutes because when one star needed a rest one of the others could pick up the slack. The idea was team oriented where everybody gets their touches.
Miami’s plans did not envision Dwyane Wade picking up so many injuries and being forced to miss so many matches. The plan also did not predict Chris Bosh going through long periods of ineffective play. The plan did required some sort of productivity from the Point Guard position, which has gotten worse and worse as this season has dragged on.
Game Five was just a microcosm of the larger issues in Miami. LeBron James did what he had to do. With 31 points he led all scorers, as he did in four of the five games. This loss will be pinned on LeBron by certain members of the media. The issue in Miami is bigger than LeBron. In Game Five Miami again failed to get any meaningful contribution from their role players, which is in stark contrast to their opponents.
Nobody can say that Kawhi Leonard didn’t deserve to win the Bill Russell MVP award. Following a Game Two performance in which Leonard struggled with foul trouble, he has been very effective on both ends of the court.
He has scored 29,20 and 22 points in the three games since. On the defensive end he has managed to keep Miami’s biggest threat in check, limiting LeBron James’ touches and his effectiveness. Leonard is certainly a deserving MVP winner.
In saying that, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and at a stretch even Patty Mills could make claims that they deserve that Bill Russell award. None of the Spurs players will suggest that. They will all say that Leonard is the clear MVP and celebrate with him, that’s just the nature of this Spurs team. The fact that this team won an NBA Finals series in five games, each of their four wins being by 15+ points speaks volumes about the nature of this organisation.
4) Fighting back
San Antonio dominated the first quarters in both of their road wins in Miami, setting the tone for the rest of the game. We knew that San Antonio were great front runners. In Game Five Miami had the hot hand early, opening up a 16 point lead in the first quarter. The question in front of San Antonio was can you claw your way back into this game?
The answer, of course, was yes. San Antonio, led by Ginobili, managed to reduce the deficit to just seven by the end of the first.
5) What next?
The 2013/2014 NBA season is over, but there are still plenty of unanswered questions. Having won the championship will Tim Duncan follow his close friend David Robinson’s lead and retire on top? At 36 will Manu Ginobili call it quits on a wonderful career? Will we see Coach Popovich back on the side lines next season?
In Miami will LeBron James opt out of the final year of his contract and join a team he feels is more ready to win now? Will Dwyane Wade opt out and move away from his beloved Miami Heat? Where will Chris Bosh find himself next season? Will all three of these players opt out and re-sign for significantly lower money to allow Carmelo Anthony join the franchise?
If some or all of these moves happen then who are the favourites to win the championship next season? Outside of Miami and San Antonio there are so many questions surrounding the draft. Will Cleveland keep or trade the number one pick? Who will draft Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker? Where will Kevin Love end up? Where will Carmelo Anthony end up?
Although the playing season is over, this offseason promises to be full of excitement.
Eoin Purcell, Pundit Arena.
Read More About: Chris Bosh, david robinson, dwyane wad, erik spoelstra, gregg popovich, kawhi leonard, lebronjames, manu ginobili, Miami Heat, nba finals, nba finals mvp, San Antonio Spurs, Tim DUncan, Tony Parker