With the Spurs up 3-1 hoping to finish the job unlike last year and the Heat just hoping to survive to play another game, a Game 5 screenshot recap is a must.
Mario Chalmers has disappeared, and Erik Spoelstra is done searching for him. To the bench he goes, as Ray Allen gets the start.
7:56: James, reminiscent of his 45-point night in Boston in 2012, has his game face on. Doris Burke tells us that he told his teammates before tip-off: “Follow me.” Spurs fans are officially petrified.
5:07: Allen hits a three to put the Heat up 22-6. They look ready to shock the world, and the sound we can hear is that of ABC executives rubbing their hands with glee at the possibility of this series going six or seven games.
4:48: Manu Ginobili and Shane Battier are both into the game. Battier, always ready to counteract a basketball play with a non-basketball play, slides under Manu in an attempt to draw the charge and is thankfully not rewarded. Manu converts the three-point play and the Heat lead 22-9.
4:39: Battier hits Manu with a high forearm on the screen and then backs him onto the floor on a post-up. The refs catch the latter manoeuvre, calling an offensive foul. The Spurs crowd comes alive, incensed at these low life tactics. This is the kind of energizer Miami, still up 13, could have avoided giving them.
3:02: Even Matt Bonner is getting in on the highlight passing action as he attacks the basket and leaves his feet to find an open Patty Mills who drains it. The Spurs are on a 12-0 run and have cut it to a 4-point Heat lead. Let the record show that Battier started this.
0:04: It’s not Battier’s night, as he gets called for his usual tactic of walking under a jumpshooter. He’s done this countless times throughout his career without being whistled. The celebrated good wing defenders do get away with it (ask Bruce Bowen), but as it becomes more and more apparent that Battier is washed up, the whistles will start to penalize him more than ever before. I welcome this.
4:51: Kawhi’s Pippen-esque pull-up three gives the Spurs their first lead of the night. The crowd goes wild. Kawhi has 15 first half points and is 3-for-3 from downtown. Do we smell a Finals MVP for the 22-year-old?
4:42: The crowd goes into an extended frenzy. The Spurs have very good fans: loyal, loving, early-arriving, reliable in their attendance and extremely boisterous when there’s something to cheer about. They’re not quite the Raptors, but they are upper echelon.
3:46: The Spurs, for all their seamless ball movement, are as quick as any team to go iso to take advantage of a mismatch. Here poor Rashard Lewis ends up on Manu, who breezes in for a layup to put the Spurs up four.
2:08: The Manu Show continues as he swishes the step-back three on a helpless Udonis Haslem after the switch. Manu has 14 to go with Kawhi’s 15 and the Spurs look in complete control despite an 0-for-7 half for Tony Parker.
Halftime: The Spurs lead 47-40, but the 7-point deficit feels more like a 17-point one for the Heat. LeBron, despite a big individual half (20 points, 6-for-12 FGs) was just 1-for-5 in the second quarter as the Spurs came roaring back. More worryingly for the Heat, James has been unable to lift his teammates. Allen, Lewis and Battier look washed up, Bosh looks disengaged and Wade looks older than his 32 years.
8:53: The result: Wade’s lack of effort compromises the Heat defense as Chris Andersen is forced to pick up Manu, who draws the foul. Despite being coddled all season, being rested on the second of back-to-back games and never having had to exert himself defensively, Wade has looked tired and winded in the Finals with no extra gear to go to. Frankly, he appears either out of shape or past caring. Either way, it is inexcusable.
7:00: I tried to tell you the offseason fuss over Greg Oden was uncalled for.
6:39: Patty Mills blows by LeBron as if he isn’t there and scores the layup to put the Spurs up 56-42. The Spurs on a 50-20 run. The Heat call a timeout as the game continues to slip away from them. To his credit, LeBron tells his teammates: “My fault. That’s my fault.” He is correct.
6:13: Tiago Splitter reminds us that Wade is no longer a top ten player as he erases his layup attempt. This serves as symbolic revenge for Splitter, who was famously blocked by LeBron in Game 2 last year.
5:33: LeBron again is caught napping on defense, something he has been guilty of throughout the postseason. Here he fails to pick up the wide open three-point shooter who just hit a wide open three-point shot. The Spurs go up 62-44, and LeBron and co. appear to be giving up.
4:54: Chalmers finally enters the game, likely to play his final minutes as a member of the Heat. What a way to go out: relegated to being the Heat’s third string point guard after three uninterrupted years as their starter. Fittingly, Chalmers gets straight in on the act of leaving Patty Mills wide open. Mills knocks it down and has 14 points in 9 minutes.
9:05: Here’s Michael Beasley, another Miami player who won’t be back next year. Between the signings of Oden and Beasley and the release of Mike Miller, the Heat’s 2013 offseason has to go down as a disaster. Who would have thought that signing a player with no knees (Oden) and a player with no brain (Beasley) would be a bad idea?
6:13: Will the Mount Rushmore talk be put on hold for another year? LeBron is now 2-for-5 on Finals trips. He put up an impressive 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in this series but as has been the case previously with LeBron, the big stats belied his relative lack of winning impact. His defensive effort was sporadic and his shot selection inconsistent as he put together just one truly great game out of five and failed to inspire his teammates to play with any lasting sense of urgency. Let the record show that Kawhi outplayed him in the Spurs’ series-changing Games 3 and 4 wins. Would a prime Jordan, Kareem, Magic or Bird ever have gone out like this, with three straight embarrassing blowout losses to close a Finals series?
2:10: Manu, now a sure-fire Hall of Famer, leaves to a well-deserved standing ovation. It was his energy and offense that turned the game. If he had been this healthy and effective a year ago, the Spurs would have won the title.
1:53: Diaw gets his ovation. My appreciation for him has been documented.
0:00: The Spurs are crowned champs again. Timmy flashes a rare smile and it is hard not to be happy for him. 17 seasons, 5 titles, 7 times a top four MVP candidate, and more playoff minutes and playoff double-doubles than any player in NBA history. Where does he now rank among the all time greats? This is a topic to be revisited in the offseason.
Two members of the Mount Rushmore of coaching.
Adam Silver’s championship trophy presentation debut. Straight to the point and not too in love with the sound of his own voice, he cuts a much less detestable (and far slimmer) figure than his predecessor.
Kawhi, who shot 61% from the field, is named the youngest Finals MVP since Tim Duncan in 1999. His acceptance speech is just as boring as Tim’s was, but the way his teammates excitedly mob him is symbolic of the Spurs’ incredible chemistry and their appreciation for each other.
And so another season ends.
It’s been a great run for Duncan and the Spurs, and the run may not be over yet. The Heat are early favorites for next year at 5/1 but San Antonio, with Pop and the gang surely returning for another go-around, enjoy making fools out of those who count them out.