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Game 5 of the NBA Finals looked a lot like Games 3 and 4 — and this time, it meant the franchise’s fifth championship.
The San Antonio Spurs systematically dismantled the Miami Heat with a 104-87 win on Sunday night. It was the third consecutive blowout over a Miami team thought by some to be invincible.
Despite the comfortable win, early on, the Heat appeared ready to take the series to a sixth game. Miami dominated much of the first quarter on their way to a 22-6 lead. LeBron James had a big hand in that, scoring 12 points. However, a 12-0 run nearly eliminated the lead and got the Spurs back into the game.
From there, it was another big San Antonio run.
After that early lead, Miami seemed to wilt away. The Spurs kept chipping away at the lead and a Kawhi Leonard bucket with just under five minutes in the second quarter put San Antonio ahead for good. The home team used a 25-11 advantage in the second quarter to head into the half with a seven-point lead over the defending champion Heat and never looked back.
Speaking of Leonard, there was some speculation that he could win the series’ Most Valuable Player award, and after another monster performance, he did just that. The forward led the team in scoring for a third consecutive game with 22 points and topped the team in rebounding with ten boards. His emergence gave San Antonio a fourth legitimate star and was a big reason San Antonio not only beat Miami, but routed them.
I theorized earlier that James could cement his legendary status with a Heat comeback. While he did his part (31 points, ten rebounds, five assists, and only one turnover), the rest of the Heat did not. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for a modest 24 points — 11 below their season average. In 31 minutes of action, Ray Allen was frigid from the field, scoring only five points on 1-of-8 shooting. The Heat bench was also outscored 47-24.
In other words, there just wasn’t enough help for James to compete.
This game and series, though, was less about Miami’s play than what San Antonio did. In the end, the Heat didn’t play terribly (though they did have a miserable Game 5), but the Spurs were simply far too good. Playing the way they did, it’s difficult to imagine that they wouldn’t rival some of the best teams in the league’s history. San Antonio was just hot from start to finish and were light years ahead of the Heat.
Attention now turns to the Spurs’ leader, Tim Duncan. Duncan has slowed down a little, but is still heavily contributing to the Spurs. The win gives him his fifth championship and the future Hall of Famer has started for championship teams in three different decades. Duncan hasn’t gotten the recognition as other players such as Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, but with five NBA titles, that should change.