The sense of urgency entering Thursday’s NBA Finals game was all on LBJ and Miami. The Spurs, who had defied the odds so brilliantly and reduced King James to commoner status, could begin to nail down Miami’s coffin with a big home win. Apparently, the Spurs didn’t want easy street. They prefer Chinese water torture.
It was an opportunity to go up 3-1, so many assumed a master technician like Gregg Popovich and a veteran-laden squad like the Spurs, would be fools to let it slip through their hands. Depending on what master your serving, a win for Miami extends the series and keeps the NBA in style for a few more days. Obviously, if you’re Duncan & Co., getting your hats handed to you is the last thing you wanted to happen. On Wednesday, the world was calling Kawhi Leonard a LeBron stopper and contemplating King James’ legacy if he lost. By Friday, the sheepish social media will be singing his praises again and relegating the Spurs to formality status in his ascension to immortality.
Those frequent observers of NBA basketball, the ones who truly understand the game, predicted the worst-case scenario for the Spurs. This was the biggest game of their season. For an executioner to relent in the midst of a completed mission, is for the executioner to eventually fall. The Image of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan sitting on the bench with 2:50 left staring aimlessly, searching for answers and feeling the pain of an opportunity lost is worth a thousand words. There was Tony Parker—whose earlier performances had him blazing up the charts of all-time NBA point guards, and Tim Duncan, widely considered the greatest power forward ever—searching for answers.
Tony Parker’s hammy must have flared up because had 15 first half points, and then evaporated. With 4:27 left in the fourth quarter he still hadn’t scored again, and his team was down by 15 (102-87). He could have been Willis Reed, instead he was a sleeping willow in crunch time.
Momentum is like an antique vehicle that you must maintain and massage. It can be lost quickly. The Spurs wanted to be the King Slayer, but it was obvious, even they didn’t believe in whipping the defending champs this easily. When it was time to turn it up, Miami got to cranking and smacked the daylight out of the Spurs, a friendly reminder of the hellish dogfight San Antonio is still engaged in.
San Antonio’s loss is an obvious gain for LeBron James, especially. He had the weight of the world on his shoulders and his team actually came to his aid and played with a sense of urgency. Wade’s knees breathed new life and for the first time in a long time, he came to ball at a superstar level. Bosh too.
The Spurs came out strong and then seemed to fall into a state of moderate purpose. It’s like Dave Stern’s money managers flexed their magic wands on the situation, and refused to let the Spurs sully the NBA Finals’ good name with an emphatic stomping of the defending champs.
In a world, where the incredible is becoming increasingly predictable, Wade and James jumped the Spurs with 65 points on 50 shots in tying up the series at 2-2.
Too bad the Spurs aren’t control freaks. They could’ve basically locked a ring up on Thursday night. Instead, the subpar performance of a supporting cast that’s been playing over their heads becomes the compelling theme for Game 5. However this series transpires, the Spurs will always remember this game. A dead end that breathed new life into LeBron James’ legacy and the Miami Heat’s championship prospects.