No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. The Miami Heat aren’t about to make history.
This series is over. Finished. Done. Kaput.
We might as well just hand Tim Duncan and the Spurs their fifth title and start speculating about whether or not the Cavaliers will select Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins with the first pick in the NBA Draft.
The San Antonio Spurs are on a mission. Not just to hoist the championship trophy, but to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are the best team in basketball. They’re doing precisely that.
This isn’t one of those articles where I lead in saying one thing and then zing you with a sneaky ‘but…’. Nope. Not this time. The San Antonio Spurs will be the 2014 NBA Champs and here’s why.
The Heat simply aren’t a team of comeback kids
Right. I know what you’re thinking. Miami was on the brink of elimination last season, right before pulling off an epic comeback to take the title in seven. But this time around they’ve conceded a deficit that can’t be levelled with a Ray Allen miracle three.
Prior to finding themselves on the losing end of yet another home court shellacking in this year’s Finals, the Heat had gone an incredible 48 straight playoff games without losing back-to-back contests.
Now that the streak is broken, let loose the floodgates. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on San Antonio wrapping this one up tomorrow night at the AT&T Center.
The Heat are a team accustomed to playing as the favourite and I just don’t see them digging deep enough to find the fire and energy required to mount such a historic comeback.
This team appears to be worn out, exhausted after three straight seasons of reaching the championship series. At times it seems as though Miami has given up on attempting to defend the Spurs for all 24 seconds of the shot clock, allowing San Antonio’s skilled passers to pinball the rock around the perimeter until they find an open look.
I’m not saying that the Heat aren’t trying. They are. San Antonio’s ball movement has just been too efficient and too relentless for Miami to overcome.
Chris Bosh is sticking with an upbeat attitude, however.
“I don’t care about odds,” Bosh remarked following Game 4’s disappointing blowout loss at home. “Odds are for people that can’t do it.”
It’s very Han Solo-esque, and I like it. But the galaxy’s favourite smuggler had Luke at his side when he baulked at C-3PO’s pessimism towards successfully navigating an asteroid field. This time around, the force is most definitely with the San Antonio Spurs.
Tony Parker is slicing and dicing the Miami defence
Parker’s penetration has been such a problem for Miami that it’s hard to believe how recently we were talking about the effect his bum ankle would have on the outcome of this series.
Parker knocked in 19 points in Game 4, a number that wound up being the points differential in the final scoreline. The Spurs joined the 1977 Trail Blazers, who did it to the 76ers, as the only teams to win back-to-back games by 19 or more in the NBA Finals.
And the Spurs have been doing it all postseason long. They’ve won by 15-plus points 11 times during the 2014 playoffs, an NBA record.
Out-coached by good old ‘Pops’
Coach Gregg Popovich made a bold roster move prior to Game 3. His decision to start Boris Diaw over Tiago Splitter wound up being brilliant. Diaw contributed to improved ball movement and added a solid 9 points with 3 assists.
In Game 4, his stat line provided even greater impact. He was all over the court, totalling 8 points, 9 boards and 9 assists. To compare, the Miami Heat finished up with 12 assists … as a team.
On the opposing bench, Erik Spoelstra is exasperated, completely incapable of coming up with any line-up shift to slow the Spurs on offence. At times he’s looked desperate, evidenced by his decision to run with a third-string guard in Toney Douglass, who had logged just over one quarter’s worth of minutes all postseason. Don’t be surprised to see the Heat suit up the water boy in Game 5. They’re grasping for straws here.
Spoelstra’s a good coach, but Popovich is a great coach. His tutelage and ability to make quality adjustments are two big reasons why there’s no way in hell the Heat can pull off three straight wins.
Kawhi Leonard, Kawhi Leonard, Kawhi Leonard
Leonard is 22 years old. Be prepared to hear his name called for many years to come.
The 2014 playoffs have been Kawhi’s coming out party. He’s not going to be a perennial shadow contributor with the occasional breakout game. Mark my words: he’s going to be a superstar.
He can drive, he can pull up and hit tough threes, and when his teammates miss a shot? Watch out.
You’ve probably already seen this, but it’s worth another look-see.
From great challenges are forged great opportunities
If LeBron James truly wants to build a legacy that competes with Michael Jordan’s, here is his chance. Leading his team to a come-from-behind series win at this point would rank up there with the greatest basketball accomplishments of all-time.
“We put ourselves in a position where it is about making history,” James said.
‘We’ is an interesting choice of words in this situation. Clearly he’s not going to slag off his teammates, but inasmuch as basketball is a team sport, Miami only makes history by riding the coattails of King James.
Yes, yes … of course it’ll take the efforts of five players to have any shot at stopping San Antonio’s steamrolling offence. But with the odds so ridiculously stacked against them, the Heat’s lone shot at this point lies in No.6’s ability to take over games.
Can he take over three in a row?
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