Spurs earn payback on Heat, claim 2014 NBA title
MANILA, Philippines – Payback was what they wanted, payback was what they got.
The San Antonio Spurs played yet another scintillating basketball game, clobbering the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the best-of-7 Finals series, 104-87, Monday, June 16, to finally avenge their 2013 Finals loss to the same team.
The Spurs outplayed Miami and closed out the series at 4-1 to win the team's 5th NBA championship.
Known for their impeccable system and discipline, the Spurs displayed nothing short of that as they ran away with Game 5 by way of a huge 30-18 third quarter onslaught that left the Heat fighting for their lives.
The two-time defending champions succumbed to the Spurs' well-executed offensive system for the third straight game after winning Game 2 of the series on the road. Miami also suffered two straight blowout losses at home before San Antonio claimed the crown in front of their home crowd.
"Right now it's just really good to have a great group of guys behind me just pushing me, inspiring me to be aggressive in the game and just helping me out," Leonard said during the post-game interview. "Coach Pop pushed me, the fans pushed me."
Leonard is the youngest Finals MVP since 1999, when teammate Tim Duncan won it.
The Spurs' big three was extremely productive once again with 38-year old Tim Duncan finishing with 14 points and 8 rebounds.
"We remember how it happened last year and what it felt like in the locker room and built on it," said Duncan in a TV interview right after the win. "It makes last year okay."
Tony Parker, who did not score in the first half, still finished with 16 points.
While 36-year old Manu Ginobili ended up with 19 points, including 3 triples, and served as a spark off the bench.
"I think that what happened last year made us stronger and we knew we were not going to let this opportunity get away," said Ginobli during the broadcast.
San Antonio's solid teamwork was on full display yet again as head coach Gregg Popovich got crucial contributions from Patty Mills and Ginobili as part of their second unit.
Mills drained 14 of his total 17 markers in the third, paving the way for the Spurs to take a 77-58 lead entering the fourth.
Miami managed to slice the deficit to 14 early in the fourth but it was simply too much for them to overcome as the Spurs led by 18 to 20-point bulges until the end.
Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James carried the Heat on his shoulders for this entire contest.
After declaring to his teammates, "Follow my lead," during a huddle before tip-off, he led by example with his 31 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
The 29-year old forward also dropped 17 huge points in the first period. But his teammates failed to respond as James ended up with 20 markers at halftime, while the rest of his teammates equaled that with a combined 20 points, as Miami trailed 47-40.
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade had 13 and 11 points, respectively.
The Heat executed better offensively to start the contest, racing to an 8-0 lead right away with James scoring 6 of those points. The lead soon climbed to a 16-point 22-6 advantage for Miami after a Ray Allen triple, as the Spurs continued to struggle with execution and wasted their shot clocks.
But it didn't take long for the Spurs to get into their flow.
San Antonio countered and made just enough baskets to improve their 3-of-14 field goal shooting and finish the opening canto down only by 29-22.
The unloaded the juggernaut in the second period, completing a 31-point turnaround and finally tasting their first lead of the ballgame at 37-35, courtesy of a Leonard triple at the 4:48 mark of the second.
Ginobili was instrumental to the Spurs' second quarter run, drilling a three-pointer that pushed San Antonio's lead to 45-37 nearing the two-minute mark of that period.
The Spurs also sizzled from downtown knocking down 12 triples in the game, including a barrage of threes in the third quarter, which ultimately squashed Miami's hopes for a three-peat.
IN PHOTOS: 9 moments from NBA Finals 2014 Game 5
San Antonio (104) – Leonard 22, Ginobili 19, Mills 17, Parker 16, Duncan 14, Diaw 5, Belinelli 4, Splitter 3, Ayres 2, Baynes 2, Green 0, Bonner 0, Joseph 0.
Miami (87) – James 31, Bosh 13, Wade 11, Beasley 9, Chalmers 8, Allen 5, Lewis 3, Douglas 3, Cole 2, Haslem 2, Andersen 0, Battier 0, Jones 0.
Quarter scores: 22-29, 47-40, 77-58, 104-87
NBA FINALS 2014 SERIES RECAP
Game 1: Duncan leads Spurs to game 1 win over Heat
Game 2: LeBron scores 35, leads Heat to Game 2 win
Game 3: Spurs bury Heat in Game 3 for 2-1 series lead
Game 4: Spurs dominate Heat again, take 3-1 lead