MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 16 June) – LeBron James had tried to rally the Miami Heat from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals by saying they can remake history in Game 5 today. He knew it was a tall order. No team has recovered from such disadvantage ever since the league started in 1950. As the team’s leader, however, it’s his duty to lift his teammates’ spirits after the San Antonio Spurs humiliated them twice in a row in their home court.
The Heat started the first quarter of Game 5, which turned out to be their last stand, with a 22-6 run. At that stage, it looked like a Game 6 was in the offing. But the Spurs responded with a 50-20 run from which the Heat would never recover. Arguably, it was that 30-point differential that best describes the lopsidedness of the rematch that looked like a mismatch.
That James played almost without taking a rest (41 minutes) and scored 31 points did not matter. Dwyane Wade spent 36 minutes on court and Chris Bosh had 38 minutes of exposure. Wade and Bosh however only scored 11 and 13 points, respectively.
No other Miami player scored in double digits. Ray Allen only had 5 and Mario Chalmers had 8.
On the other hand, five San Antonio players scored over 10, with Finals MVP Kahwi Leonard getting 22. By the way he played in the finals he could be the heir apparent to the 38-year-old Tim Duncan. Tony Parker meanwhile was scoreless in the first three quarters, but made up in the fourth quarter where he scored 16 points. The only Spurs starter who did not score was Danny Greene.
Led by Manu Ginobili who had 19, San Antonio’s bench also scored better, earning 47 points against the 24 points of Miami’s backups. Ginobili sank three successive triples just when Miami looked poised for a comeback halfway through the fourth quarter.
In addition, the Spurs converted 12 of their 26 attempts at the arc, while the Heat only made 7 of their 25 three-point attempts.
In the four games won by San Antonio, their average lead was 18 points. In Game 2 which Miami won, the Spurs lost by just two points. In other words, the Spurs were capable of blanking the Heat if not for the last-quarter lapses, primarily on defense, in the second game.
Popovich’s formula? All throughout the series, San Antonio employed a fast-paced passing game as an anti-dote to Miami’s physical brand of play. Coach Gregg Popovich always reminded his wards that the ball should not stay long in one’s hands and to always find the open man. In fact, several slow-motion replays showed all – yes, all – of Miami’s defenders with their hands down at the instance a Spurs shooter aimed at the basket. It can only mean a breakdown in defense.
In the end, the king had to give up his crown as history repeated itself.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at email@example.com.)