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NBA Finals Game 4: Spurs Show Depth, One Win From Title

Paolo Uggetti |
June 12, 2014 | 11:22 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Tuesday night was an outlier--an offensive display that combined a highly talented team with incredible shooting luck to make history. As Gregg Popovich said, it will probably never happen again.

But last night, it certainly felt like history repeated itself. We didn’t necessarily get treated to a 75% shooting performance, but the Spurs' flawless play was duplicated in Game 4, and left no doubt that their domination is not simply a matter of luck, but rather one of basketball excellence.

On a night when Tim Duncan broke records for the most minutes played and most double-doubles in NBA playoff history, the Spurs, in the most Spurs-like fashion, made the minutes and points of every single player count. Literally.

Boris Diaw was one of the main contributors to a Game 5 Spurs' win. (@hartzellNBA/Twitter)
Boris Diaw was one of the main contributors to a Game 5 Spurs' win. (@hartzellNBA/Twitter)

All thirteen players on the Spurs roster grazed the Finals floor. All thirteen players on the Spurs roster scored.

Tony Parker had 19 points. Duncan and Kawhi Leonard both had double-doubles. Boris Diaw nearly had a triple-double. Danny Green and Patty Mills hit nearly every three-point shot they took and the bench finished with 41 points. Heck, even Matt Bonner and Cory Joseph scored. I could go on, but the proof is evident; San Antonio knows no weakness, they possess no flaw.

In a player-driven league, the Spurs showed once again why teams still win championships. Another offensive clinic had no lead protagonist as their highest scorer was Leonard with only 20 points. I say only because in contrast, LeBron had 19 just in the third quarter, and it was still not nearly enough to overcome the Spurs depth and consistency. James was forced to do everything he could in a vain attempt to keep his team in it. And despite having a team-high 28 points, it only equaled the rest of the Heat’s starting lineup's points combined.

LeBron is the best player in the world, but even he can’t single-handedly contend against such a complete team. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been increasingly inconsistent and virtually invisible in the past two games, helping neither James, nor their chances to repeat in this series. Credit that to the Spurs unbelievably suffocating and unrelenting defense. It's yet another impressive, sometimes overlooked, quality of their fundamentally sound play.

Physically, the Spurs out-played the Heat on the court in every way possible. Beating them to loose balls, forcing turnovers, rebounding on both sides of the floor, and maximizing every single offensive possession. Passing, for instance, looked like a necessity for one team, while seeming like an afterthought for the other, as the Spurs nearly doubled the Heat’s assist total. Furthermore, in almost every single offensive and defensive category, San Antonio lay waste to a Miami squad that looked puzzlingly lethargic at home.

The lackadaisical attitude that Miami shamefully displayed speaks to the other facet of the game that the Spurs are simply superior at. Through their domination on both sides of the floor, it was as if San Antonio mercilessly extracted the little hope and energy Miami brought into Game 4 from tip-off. At times, it seemed as if the Heat finally realized they were playing a much superior opponent; one that would not hesitate, nor waver in any form or fashion--an unbeatable opponent that showed no weaknesses, while simultaneously exposing every one of theirs.  

Their impeccable ball movement, and exquisite finishing, alongside their swarming defense, both mentally and physically dashed Miami’s hopes in the span of the last two games. Two home games for the reigning champs in fact, so now any small chance the Heat have of overcoming this beautiful brand of basketball and turning this series around, will now have to first formulate in San Antonio Sunday night.

The task at hand, seems quite impossible, as no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in an NBA Finals. Come Game 5, however; the Heat will look to wake up and survive, while the Spurs are on a determined mission to put the final nail in the coffin and avenge last year’s loss.

Sunday will either bring long-awaited redemption, or a necessary revival.  It will either give us a champion, or give us a series.

You can reach Staff Writer Paolo Uggetti here, or follow him on Twitter here.



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