The Spurs took a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 107-86 blowout victory, sweeping the two games in Miami as the series shifts back to Texas with the Spurs one win away from a fifth NBA championship.
Matt Zemek: The Miami Heat had won their last 13 playoff games following a loss. No NBA team over the past two years had been more consistently able to respond to an adverse postseason situation than the Heat. This was a team with white-collar talent, but an underappreciated amount of blue-collar toughness between the ears and and in its veins. One wondered when this run — powering two straight titles and four straight Finals performances — would come to an end.
America got its answer Thursday night.
The flame of the post-loss postseason Heat finally died out. The pilot light was extinguished. A great team’s tank ran on empty. Only one man showed up for this team in its moment of need. LeBron James played well. The problem was that none of his teammates came along for the ride.
The contrast with the San Antonio Spurs could not be any greater.
Miami was not even the Big Three; it was the Big One.
San Antonio, on the other hand, came at that one-man team in waves, with just about everyone contributing in a symphony of blended movements at both ends of the floor. On offense and defense alike, the Spurs ran, jumped, rotated, hustled, and reacted with far more energy and fluidity than the Heat.
The result was a drama-free blowout that has this series poised to end on Sunday in Game Five. The Heat have stood at the door of despair on several occasions over the past few NBA seasons. In 2012 and 2013, they endured elimination games to win world championships. Thursday, a superior team landed a roundhouse punch, giving the 2014 Finals a standing-eight count heading back to Texas.
So much more will be said on this series once it is over. Maybe Miami can postpone the end of that series to Tuesday for Game Six and even next Friday for Game Seven.
At this point, however, do not bet on it.
For now, let this one point sink in: Appreciate this series as a manifestation of the Spurs’ excellence, depth, and harmonious team play. This is much more a story of what San Antonio is doing right than what the Heat are failing to do.
Philip Rossman-Reich: Going home is supposed to be some relief? Losing a game at home is supposed to bring out some urgency and desperation as they need to get some semblance of home court advantage back? Right? These are how things are supposed to go.
The Spurs are not the home team. They are not down 2-1. They could have rested on their home court advantage. They looked like the team that needed this win, wanting it more than the two-time defending champion Heat. This Heat team is completely unrecognizable.
San Antonio picked Miami apart. Plain and simple. The Spurs just executed the Heat to death on offense and suffocated them on defense. It was clinical, pure and simple. Much more than it was in Game Three.
In Game Three, San Antonio benefited from some incredible shooting. The shooting was nowhere near as record setting in Game Four. But the Spurs still had the same result. They controlled the pace and flow of the game, taking a double-digit lead early on and never letting go. Miami could not even mount a run.
The Heat were just lifeless.
Give LeBron James credit for continuing to do everything he can. He just cannot do it alone. Not at this level. The blame cannot be on him — sorry Skip Bayless. Dwyane Wade just does not have the juice to keep pace with James and Chris Bosh has become a glorified spot-up shooter. There just is not a lot more for the Heat to do. This looks like a team that needs some major retooling to return to the title.
At this point, it does not look like it will happen this year. Down 3-1 and heading back to San Antonio, the odds of a comeback seem slim.
Josh Burton: Wow. Just wow. It is hard enough to beat the Heat on the road, but twice in a row during the playoffs? That is just incredible.
Now up 3-1, with a potential clinching Game Five on Saturday night at home in San Antonio, the Spurs have the Heat on the ropes and they are on the verge of finally knocking them out.
It seemed as if the Spurs were up big almost from the tip, as they held a nine-point lead after the first quarter, an advantage that increased to 18 by half. But Miami was not even that close in reality. Outside of some isolated stretches of halfway decent play that had them down just 15 or so, the Heat were totally uncompetitive in this game, which is remarkable considering it is the third blowout in this series, all in favor of San Antonio.
Obviously, this Finals isn’t over yet, but after two horrid performances — at home, nonetheless — by the Heat and a pair of masterful ones by the Spurs, it would be surprising if this series even goes back to Miami for Game Six. Anything can happen in the NBA, but with such a fine-tuned and almost-perfect Spurs team, it really does not appear as if a Heat win is possible.
As Matt said, take in the masterpiece that is the Spurs and Gregg Popovich’s system throughout the rest of this series, however long it is. This is some history we’re watching unfold here.
Social Media Recap
— Orlando Magic Daily (@OMagicDaily) June 13, 2014
This series is also exposing how Miami, though a team to be lauded for making 4 straight Finals, is in said Finals b/c of the Eastern Conf.
— Matt Zemek (@mzemek) June 13, 2014
LeBron has 25 points on 69% shooting and it doesn't matter 1 bit
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) June 13, 2014
Unsung hero tonight for #Spurs is patty Mills w/ 14 pts off the bench so far for SA.
— Jeff Garcia PS (@sa2ny2004) June 13, 2014
I am really not ready for Sunday to be the last basketball game before Summer League.
— Crossover Chronicles (@crossoverNBA) June 13, 2014
— J.E. Skeets (@jeskeets) June 13, 2014
— Crossover Chronicles (@crossoverNBA) June 13, 2014
@mzemek This series could be for Miami what that PHX sweep was for the Spurs- a wakeup call "We have to change things up."
— Unfrozen Buffalo Fan (@chrisskreager) June 13, 2014