NBA Finals Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, June 15 (All times Eastern)
(2-E) Miami Heat (1-3) at (1-W) San Antonio Spurs (3-1), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs are one win away from yet another title and they will go for it Sunday night against the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at AT&T Center.
The Spurs are knocking on the door of a fifth franchise title thanks to a pair of road drubbings of the Heat in South Beach.
On Tuesday, the Spurs set an NBA Finals record by shooting almost 76 percent in the first half of a 111-92 waxing of the Heat. Then, with Miami's season basically on the line, the Spurs came out in Thursday's Game 4 and put on another clinic, demolishing the two-time reigning champs, 107-86.
San Antonio hasn't won a title since 2007 and the Heat ripped the Spurs' collective heart out one year ago. The Spurs held a 3-2 series lead in the Finals and had the lead with five seconds to go in Game 6. Ray Allen hit a crazy 3-pointer to force overtime of Game 6, which the Heat eventually won. Miami took Game 7 in South Beach and San Antonio lost its first Finals with this historic group.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich have seen it all in Alamo City. Duncan and Popovich won their first title together in 1999 and they are cementing their status as a true dynasty.
But, with the memories of last year's Finals' debacle still fresh, the Spurs take nothing for granted.
"I think we go back to last year and we learn from that. We're 30 seconds away. We feel that we have it in the bag and it slips out of our fingers," Duncan said Saturday. "So I think we learn from that, and we draw on that, and we say, 'Hey, it's not over till it's over.' Our goal right now is to just win one more game. We'd love to do it tomorrow. We'd love to do it in one game. But luckily we've put ourselves in a situation where we have a couple opportunities and we're going to take whatever it takes. They're going to come out and give us their best punch possible."
The Spurs got into this position thanks to dominating road performances. Tuesday's Game 3 was an offensive exhibition, but Thursday's victory was an overall gem.
Kawhi Leonard, who scored a career-high 29 points in the Spurs' Game 3 win, had another monster game with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and three steals to lead San Antonio.
Parker scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half, Patty Mills added 14 points off the bench and Duncan contributed a 10-point, 11-rebound double- double in the win.
Boris Diaw, who was inserted into the starting lineup before Game 3, nearly recorded a triple-double with eight points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
"We thought we could come in here and win these games," Duncan said when asked about the lopsided wins in Miami. "We came in here tonight with great focus and put a great game together."
Duncan passed Magic Johnson for most double-doubles in postseason history with 158 and also passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most minutes played in a postseason career.
History is on the Spurs' side with a 3-1 series lead. Teams that have gone up by that margin are a perfect 31-0 in Finals history.
"We need to win one game. That's all we can think about," Miami's LeBron James said after practice Saturday. "We can't think about forcing a Game 7. We have to win one game. Game 5, being here in a hostile environment, we know if we lose, the season is over."
James scored 19 of his 28 points in the third quarter of Game 4, though San Antonio had the game well in hand by halftime.
"They smashed us two straight home games," James said. "They put you in some difficult situations."
Chris Bosh tallied 12 points and Dwyane Wade finished with 10 on 3-of-13 shooting in the setback.
With Game 4 a desperation scenario for the Heat, the Spurs dominated, especially in the critical categories,
San Antonio shot 40-for-70 (57.1 percent) from the floor and outrebounded Miami, 44-27, Thursday night. The Spurs' bench outscored Miami's reserves, 41-30, with James Jones netting 11 points off the bench in the final minutes and the Spurs owned a 46-30 edge in the paint.
And now the Heat face the tallest of challenges in a bid to three-peat. They did win Game 2 in San Antonio, so there's cautious reason for optimism.
"There is a point where no team came back from a 3-1 or 3-0 deficit in the ALCS, and then the Red Sox did it against the Yankees," said James. "So history is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it? That would be great. That would be a great story line, right? But we'll see what happens. I've got to live in the moment, though, before we even get to that point."
The Spurs are in the process of becoming one the NBA's greatest champions. Just don't tell them that.
"I don't think about legacy very often or at all, I guess," deadpanned Popovich.
Game 6, if necessary, would be Tuesday night in Miami.
06/15 10:55:50 ET