Spurs are one game away from redemption


VIDEO: San Antonio dominates Heat for second straight game to move to 3-1

MIAMI – This isn’t a five-point lead with 28 seconds left, but it’s close.

The San Antonio Spurs waited 12 months and played eight hoping to get back to this point, the place they’d reached last June when they had an NBA championship within their grasp. Only this time, of course, they’d grab it and hold tight.

It didn’t go that way a year ago when Ray Allen hit that shot in Game 6 and LeBron James shoved them aside in Game 7.

So the Spurs have lived ever since knowing they came closer to winning a title, only to lose it, than any other team in league history. Now they’re poised to fix that, to re-write the ending, to redeem themselves so completely that it might soothe the sting and heal any psychic scars. A real double-or-nothing opportunity, even if the Miami Heat haven’t signed off on handing over any rings.

Or…

The Spurs could do over three more games between now and next Friday what they crammed so miserably into that fateful half minute and all that followed. No team in Finals history ever has opened a 3-1 lead after four games and not gone on to win the championship. The record is clear: 31 teams have led 3-1, 31 teams have closed out successfully.

The Spurs and their fans dare not think about failing now. Heck, against the two-time defending champions and the world’s best basketball player, they dare not even breathe.

There might be no coming back from that sort of trauma. So the best thing for San Antonio to do might be to stay locked in from the moment their flight touches down back in Texas right through their next 48 minutes against the Heat.

Stay focused, stay driven, stay hungry, no pondering or calculating allowed, right?

“If you think about it last year, we had two opportunities to win,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “Now we have three. It’s not that different. So now we’re going to have one opportunity at home and we just have to think about that being the last opportunity.”

Uh, OK. He means Game 5 Sunday at the AT&T Center, right?

“That’s a Game 7 for us,” Ginobili said.

Enough with the pondering and calculating, Manu.

All the Spurs need to do to keep their sneakers on Miami’s throat and close this series out is to show up Sunday as big a moving target as they did for Game 4. The way they had shot in Game 3, the way they had hung points on the Heat at home and had blown them out, well, even Spurs coach Gregg Popovich labeled it an anomaly. Not gonna see that again anytime soon, players and coaches on both sides agreed.

They were right. What they got in Game 4 Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena was even more incongruous, outlandish and unexpected. It was an outlier of its own, a surprise even Malcolm Gladwell might not have seen coming.

The Spurs grew more dominant, not less, by shooting a little worse but defending better.

The Heat lost their way completely after a second consecutive punched-in-the-mouth start.

This time, instead of making a run that had the Spurs sweating when their lead dwindled to seven, the Heat squandered a brilliant third quarter from James (19 points) and never got closer than 13. San Antonio countered every thrust, matched every move and pumped its lead bigger by the start of the fourth than it had been at halftime.

If not for four missed free throws by Tony Parker and Tim Duncan in Game 2… actually, the Spurs and their fans dare not go there either. Already the best team through four games, San Antonio needs one more as near-flawless as the pair it played in Miami. But the sort of babbling and projecting Ginobili did above is asking for trouble. It’s the first sign of a team letting go of the rope, something the Spurs want no part of. Miami is too dangerous, even in its current flummoxed state. James might be back in Cleveland mode, having to do too much, but until his team is six feet under, he might as well be Michael Myers.

“I’m glad that they performed as well as they did while we’ve been in Miami, and that’s about as far as it goes,” Popovich said. “Now we’ve got to go back home and play as well or better.”

Said Boris Diaw, the Vive la difference forward whose upholstered physique belies his ball skills and awareness: “We are not going to make the mistake to think it’s going to be an easy game because we’re playing at home. We know they’re going to play for their lives.”

That sounds right – except that Miami was supposed to have been playing for its life Thursday, after the beatdown it took in Game 3 48 hours earlier. But the urgency never showed up. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and his players were gracious, talking about how well San Antonio played. But 28 points from James and just 28 more from the other Heat starters won’t get them back in this series, never mind winning it.

The contrast in styles, not just in how they play and spread the responsibilities around but in how their rosters were built, was on full display Thursday. San Antonio might as well have been wearing sepia-toned uniforms the way it was working five-as-one, swinging the ball side to side and staying patient not just for the extra pass but the extra extra pass.

Miami, or at least its fans, kept looking for a star to fix the growing mess. James? Dwyane Wade? Chris Bosh? The team built around big names didn’t get enough boost from its main guys or enough bump from its role players.

The Spurs, meanwhile, purred. They were throwback-Thursday good, the audiophiles’ equivalent of vinyl over cold, bloodless digital. It’s that jazz thing that makes basketball better than other sports, five players working in concert, improvising off each other, the magic coming in the seams and the pauses rather than on the melody.

It’s important, naturally, not to overstate anything here. Miami somehow has managed to get to four Finals in a row and win two of them, this third one still pending. A victory at the AT&T Center in Game 5 should shift everything, including momentum, right back to the AAA. There were glimpses when James and Wade didn’t look good or very resilient during the game, but afterward neither seemed beaten or ready to spit out the bit.

“They’re able to throw it in another gear, and they’re going to do just that,” Duncan said. “They don’t want this to be done. They’ve already won on our [court] so they feel they can do it again, and we don’t want to give them any life.”


VIDEO: Gregg Popovich talks about the Spurs’ Game 4 performance

83 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    It’s funny that the words “babbling and projecting” should be used by somebody whose job is to babble and project.

  2. Yeah Uh huh says:

    I think Miami is more worried about keeping their core than the finals. They took their lone gunman mike miller out to free cap space fearing the cash cow Lakers, Rockets with their cash and young star core and other contenders. The Spurs are at home. Parkers playground he has yet to go off and I think Sunday will be that nail in the coffin game. Leonard will be tge MVP. Diaw a close second. Leonards tenacious D and offense was unexpected by Miami. He was that pitbull with no leash kn the park no one noticed until he started mauling the Heat. Nothing but pure admiration for Pop and the culture he’s created in San Antonio

  3. Gillsy says:

    The Spurs have shown that they are the superior team. I was really expecting the Heat to change things up in game 4 but they got flogged again. They look broke, wade looks like he really is on his last legs. And it is scary when your second best player is 38. But the writing was on the wall with James when he really begged Ray Allen to come even though he already had Bosh and Wade. But times like this show their two biggest weaknesses, rebounding and depth. So really the Heat may win one more but the Spurs Know they can win in Miami so that doesn’t scare them. While biggest concern for the Heat is that every time they either build a lead or eat into a lead they haven’t been able to show an ability to stay on top. While James being intimidated by Leonard with his defence is a problem.

  4. i expect to see you guys here on sunday after the heat makes a strong comeback. like the great rudy tomjanovich, “DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE HEART OF A CHAMPION.”

    The heat will win 3 straight.

    • Mike says:

      Don’t make me laugh. In the words of Vince Carter after his 360 between-the-legs dunk: “It’s over. It’s over.”

  5. Willy Spurd says:

    During game 3 press conference, DWayduh and LeBrain were actually laughing about a question they didn’t understand. The reporter used the word lackluster. They were giggling like children. I knew it was over then! Game 4 or Cramp game 2, they were completely humiliated. He went to the toilet twice, you don’t wrap an ankle that fast! haha! WTH would he eat to put himself in a position of having a stomach problem? Actually this turn around of intensity goes back to the CoJo Slam over Ibaka in the blow game that the reserves almost came back to win. After that game the intensity and focus stepped up a notch. Even Pop looks more stressed than ever. The man needs a break. Punching Kawhi, playfully, like he did was awesome! Go SPURS!

  6. laguneromx says:

    impresive!! Spurs just the better TEAM!!

  7. David A says:

    I respect Ginobili’s comments about Sunday being a game 7 to him. You have to understand that the Spurs have always been a careful team. Many teams, you will hear, say treat every game like game 7, but they do not. When they lose a lead, they give up. Spurs on the other hand treat all the playoff games like game 7, especially the finals. This is proven in the final scores of every game. When they lose, they lose by a few, whereas when the heat lost, they lost by a blow out, twice in a row. Same thing with the OKC series. Every game was a blowout. So Ginobili is right in thinking that Game 5 is going to be like a 7.

  8. Marsz says:

    The Spurs have exposed the Miami Heat for the FRAUDS that they are. This team is not an elite team cause they play in the EAST. If they played in the West, they’d be a 5 or 6 seed. Why can’t anyone realize this? They got lucky last year, people. Plain n’ simple. And even then it took them 7 games to win. It’s gonna take the Spurs 5 to do it. You tell me who the better team is…

  9. gieorg says:

    I am glad for the turnout of the finals. I believe Spurs should have won it last year., but this year will suffice Although I do not like LBJ I can acknowledge that he is the best player in the league but with a big difference. He is an individual NOT a team. Watching the Spurs team is like poetry in motion. Great job from Pop and all the players. I hope they win game 5 and celebrate

  10. When the Spurs Finish off the Heat in Game 5, I will be extremely pleased. If Lebrick wants to win some more championships, he needs to go to the Spurs, because he will never win one again with the Heat. Sorry, Heat fans, but I am just being serious.

  11. SPURS GREATNESS says:

    Game 5 is MAGIC MANU’s time.

    Enjoy the GINOBILI show !!

    • Marvin says:

      Yep. That’s the one thing no one has talked about. Manu’s had good games, (WAY better than last year), but he hasn’t gone off yet. I think game 5 is where Obi-Wan Ginobili puts a serious case of the ‘Force’ on the Heat and extinguishes them once and for all.

  12. SPURS GREATNESS says:

    The HEAT wanted a 3-PEAT.

    The SPURS served them DEFEAT.

    2014 Champs = SPURS !!!

  13. Gonzalo says:

    Well, I might not be the most objective, but I see the Spurs play like the best FIBA teams like to play, and that’s not a surprise at all.
    It’s the team with more foreign players and a very intelligent head couch that make them play as a team, and put it before any particular benefit of their own.
    I remember seeing Pop’s face in the bench when they took a loss at the Argentina national team back in 2002 after not loosing for 30 years, and I think that experience gave Pop a good perspective of how you can beat teams if you play like a team, and not only counting on the individual talent of the players.

    Seeing the Spurs play was always a plasure, but this 2014 playoffs, and this Finals basketball display in particular is just so beautiful!

    My biggest hope is that Tim and Manu give us another year in this great team they have created allongside with Pop.

  14. Louie says:

    I was reading this article and the entire time I am thinking… “is the writer drunk?” Sloppy writing!

  15. MR210 says:

    Revenge is like the sweetest joy next to getting….

  16. Brad T says:

    The Spurs KNOW they should have won last year AND that they essentially gave it away by losing focus in games 6+7. Yes, the Heat did their part to win those games, but they won both on last second deperation shots, not by a clear victory.

    I love how the Spurs have made it their mission to prove last year was their fault letting it go, they WANTED the Heat in the finals, they GOT the Heat and now they will show everyone who the BEST TEAM is with no doubts

  17. MR210 says:

    Spurs are a better team than last year…plus revenge is a powerful motivator.

    One win away from another Title.

    Made Heat look like a practice squad. Once again, LBJ couldn’t do the heavy lifting on his own – Spurs are good at exposing team’s flaws.

    It’s not over yet, but Heat know it is – they are just good at saying all the right things. Just like the Spurs say all the right things.
    Heat fans know too – why else would they boo their own team. It’s like they know their Big 3 Era is over…

    Finals MVP? Maybe Kawhi if he gives the Heat another Kawhi-an Punch in game 5…
    But would love Timmy to have a 20+pt 10+reb game – maybe he can steal it…

    GO SPURS GO – DRIVE FOR FIVE!

  18. David says:

    Said before this series that this was a battle of good vs evil in basketball. Is it better to buy a bunch of superstars and let them take turns going iso or to build a team around a system of ball and player movement. You might laugh but the Heat’s superstar concept getting whooped by the Spurs team play is going to trickle all the way down to middle school basketball and maybe improve the quality of the game at all levels

  19. Mike says:

    What on earth is this writer thinking? “Letting go of the rope… babbling and projecting”? Ginobili’s statement reflects exactly what every team should be thinking in competitive sport. Every game is a game 7, every game is a must-win. This article sounds like it was written by a 12-year-old Heat fan. Ginobili was simply stating that their position is little different to last year when the Spurs were up 3-2 and lost the series. It is that very reminder that has kept the Spurs so focussed and hungry. Shame on your for trying (and failing miserably) to create an air of complacency when there is none. Shame on your for trying to undermine the determination of one of the most competitive players in NBA history. This writer is trying to turn a National Geographic documentary into an E! channel reality show.

    • 37yrfan says:

      ..,,…A**burner is always like that …..he, among others, don’t really like the Spurs…….. they like the frontrunner types…..lakers and such …….. if the lakers had been doIn’ this they would already been anointed ..”THE BEST TEAM OF ANY TEAM EVER IN ANY SPORT EVER, EVER” !!!! …..LOL…..

    • Marvin says:

      No doubt.

      Lebron even told his team in the huddle before game 1 that every game in this series is a game 7 for them. The author’s comments here are silly, on their face, because all the Spurs that were interviewed have essentially said the same thing. Manu just elaborated a bit more than Tony, Tim, Kawhi, and Pop.

  20. bballjunkie1 says:

    What a bball clinic Pop is putting on. Sorry Lebron but the 3peat was last year, cause all they had to do was include u in the offense against Dallas, Pop certainly would have. Its starting to look like Cleveland all over again. Go get or play for a coach first, more players with Spo aint the answer. Sorry

    • 37yrfan says:

      …..NO !! Again….It is NOT “Spo” as you refer to the coach…….he is NOT the problem……. too much one-on-one is Always the Problem for that type of player, as sometimes too MUCH talent goes to the head and one thinks one is BIGGER than the GAME(and it is painful to watch as he finds out the truth)……thinking it is the ONLY way he plays the best, as he has incorrectly come to believe…….SORRY little dreamer….. NO “3-peat” ….don’t be still cryin’ about the whoopin’ another Texas team put on the “East Coast Beach Boys/Miami All-Stars”…… Dallas beat the WHOLE team…..and that includes what most claim is …”the best player on the planet”…… Obviously he isn’t …..(the best player on the planet wins the most) , but he is promoted as such and his bank account swells accordingly……. ps: Why can’t fans and pundits just say ……..”One of the best players on the planet/ever”……would be much more truthful that way….

  21. john w says:

    If the Heat are in the western conference do they make 4 consecutive finals? uhh. no. get rid of 8 west 8 east and go with top 16 records in round robin. OKC v Spur was the finals.

  22. Heatarebad says:

    The heat are a pretty bad team and definitely one of the worst teams to ever win a championship. They get there because of a horrible eastern conference where they go unchallenged the entire way then only have to win 4 games against a beaten up western conference team.

    They’re one of the easiest teams to defend in the league because Lebron is not a good shooter and the way you defend him coincides with the way you defend his team/any team keep them out of the paint. Other players like Jordan, Kobe, Durant, or Melo can’t be guarded in this way so their team is always in the game. If you guard those guys in the way that they guard Lebron then those guys each put up 81 easy. Guard Lebron like that and he puts up mid 20′s maybe in the 30′s. Plus Heat cannot rebound.

    Lebron and his team is too dependent on fast break points which is a bad way to build a team because whether they get those fast breaks is entirely up to the opposing team so they put their fate in the opposing teams hands on whether they can score effectively or not. If you look at the majority of Lebron’s points throughout the season they are fast breaks, why do you think he “shoots” such a high percentage? He just isn’t a very good scorer and he isn’t a very dangerous player to play against offensively. Put one of the guys mentioned previously on heat in his position and Pop would have a much more difficult time with Heat.

  23. Vince says:

    “If you think about it last year, we had two opportunities to win,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “Now we have three. It’s not that different. So now we’re going to have one opportunity at home and we just have to think about that being the last opportunity.”
    Uh, OK. He means Game 5 Sunday at the AT&T Center, right?
    “That’s a Game 7 for us,” Ginobili said.
    Enough with the pondering and calculating, Manu.

    How is he calculating and pondering? He just means they have to consider it a game 7 which means a must win game. And that’s the right mentality to have in the playoffs: you don’t play to try to win! This is ridiculous!

    • Vince says:

      “But the sort of babbling and projecting Ginobili did above is asking for trouble. It’s the first sign of a team letting go of the rope, something the Spurs want no part of.”

      He is saying exactly the opposite! They will not let go of the rope this time

    • Marco29 says:

      This part of the article was not clear and I agree with you that there is some confusion there.
      I think Manu meant that they should not lay back and think that if they miss this opportunity in Game 5, they will have two others afterwards. They need to approach game 5 as a must win with no other chances behind.

    • Sonic says:

      I know! Ginobli is saying they have to treat it like a Game 7, how is that “letting go of the rope”? Makes absolutely no sense at all. WTH?

    • 37yrfan says:

      …..Hey guys …..that was taken from a locker room or post game presser…. and if you would have Seen him say it it would have been perfectly clear…..The Spurs will treat game 5 as a game 7……it is nice having a one hour post game on fox to go into a little more depth and not just highlights and somebody’s description of said highlights…..

  24. Zac says:

    Only Dallas could bring SA to a game 7

  25. William says:

    The series is finished when you win 4 games. Last night was a great win for the Spurs, but they need one more.

    On two days rest, expect the Heat to come out hard. They’ve shown that they can win 27 in a row, never mind 3. I want the SPURS to take game 5, but it will be one heck of a fight to take it….and that will make the win all the sweeter :)

    • lalalalla says:

      sorry, but playoffs is a hell lotta different than regular season, which is IRRELEVANT moving on forward.

    • 37yrfan says:

      …..27 against mostly the d-league East…..Not like playing the Spurs game after game after game after………………………………..

  26. Yusa says:

    Win or lose Spurs, I just have one wish! please nobody on your team retire after this series.

    • Marco29 says:

      If they win, it might mean Timmy and maybe Manu walking…
      I hope not but how could you blame them? Having the opportunity to walk on yet another title….

  27. Buckdawg says:

    You know, to be fair, without the leg cramps in Game One, this might be 2-2 right now…

    • Marco29 says:

      without the missed free thows in game 2, it would be over by now…
      James did not only have cramps because of the A/C. It happened to him before and the Heat have no other weapon and have to have James on the floor almost all the time as he carries the load on both sides.
      If James had not been on the floor in the seconde quarter, they would have trailed a lot. By that time it was clear that he would not be fresh at the end of the game.

      • Sonic says:

        The Spurs also dominated that 4th quarter in Game 1. As we saw in Games 3 and 4, James on the floor hasn’t stopped the Spurs offensive proficiency. And I believe that Game 2 was the Spurs giving it away with those 4 missed free throws in a row. I have no idea what to expect on Sunday, but I hope that the Spurs just get the job done and come out early with another early hit and demoralize the Heat. Give them no hope psychologically.

      • Chris says:

        I agree with you Marco29. In game one ….it didn’t matter if the A/C was on or off we still won and game two was just a horrible freaky game. and if they would have won game two. We would have been celebrating a championship by now. We would have swept them which would have been excellent but that’s ok. The Heat are done with ….no team has come back from a 3 and 1 defecit.

    • Spurs baby! says:

      to be fair, Spurs should be looking forward to their 6th ring right now if it wasn’t for those meddling refs.

      annoying right? stop with the excuses. shut up and move on

    • amitpal says:

      Then to be fair if serge ibaka didnt get injured in game 1 and 2 the thunder would be in the finals. And if Russell Westbrook didnt get injured last year the thunder would be in the finals. Then if ray allen doesnt hit that shot last year the spurs would be trying to win there second championship in a row. What your point? The spurs caught fire in game 1 that’s something they probably could have done with lebron playing.

      • 37yrfan says:

        ibaka or NO injury reports ibaka…..thy don’t beat the spurs this year….westbrook has a long way to go before he finds his niche….

  28. Michael says:

    What a beautifully-written piece. Thanks, Steve.

    • Billy bob says:

      LOL
      Yeah, this was a wonderful piece of writing……….for a first grader.
      Steve what were you thinking or drinking when writing this article?

  29. ROMULO CATOR says:

    This Miami Heat vs San Antonio Spurs will create a significant history everybody will talk about for a very long time. Just watch and see
    then talk about it later.

  30. Patrick says:

    sweet

  31. Marco29 says:

    By the way, where have the Haters gone who says Spurs are old and slow and not a fun team to watch?
    After games 3 & 4, I cannot see how anybody could still be saying that. Their ball movement and effort is just beauty.

    • Sonic says:

      They play with a pretty fast pace and push the ball. People who haven’t watched them play the last couple of years perpetuate that myth. The way they play is beautiful, almost like watching futbol in a way. Selfless team basketball where everyone from the coach, to the star players to the last guy off the bench trust in each other. I’d rather watch that versus highlight plays and pound-the-ball isolation play any day.

  32. JohnSpursFan says:

    All the knowledge an unbiased info they have just isn’t here, wow is all I can say. Oh yea, GO SPURS GO!!!!!!!

  33. JohnSpursFan says:

    Wow!! Don’t see the bandwagon loudmouth Heat and Lebron fans saying much, it’s crickets in here tonight!!! I love the sound too!!

  34. pacersbandwagon says:

    Lebron james will make the greatest finals comeback in nba history #istillbelieve

    • Chris says:

      lol…..your stupid. Lebron will never make a comback. they will not win three in a row. There were heat fans stating that they were going to win games 3, 4, and 5. so how is that working for them?

    • 37yrfan says:

      ……they will need ALOT more than JUST a super athlete……and more of them….

  35. kavika6 says:

    Western Conference Finals – The REAL Finals.

  36. Marco29 says:

    Heat will surely take advantage of the extra day between games 4 & 5 to regain some shape and rest their bodies to increase their inetnsity level.
    If asked Pop would probably have liked to play on Saturday rather than Sunday in order to stay focused and take advantage of the momentum the Spurs have gained in games 3 &4.

    • 37yrfan says:

      ……last week too……..but the ‘old and tired’ heaters NEED some Rest …..poor young men…..makes me laugh when I hear the heat need rest ……lol funny……lmao funny !!!!

  37. Doctor B says:

    Thanks to the Spurs, these last 2 years, I’ve been enjoying NBA basketball almost as much as during the Jordan and Pippen”s Bulls era. The Spurs’ humility and their great basketball make this team really likeable. And now with the Leonard touch, they even get funky. Not too bad for a team that was considered as ageing and boring. One more to win!! Go Spurs go!!

    • Sonic says:

      Their humility and the way they listen to each other and the coach and trust in each other with selfless play is a model I hope other teams strive to achieve rather than just trying to buy superstars. It would make the NBA so much more enjoyable to watch. Maybe less off the court drama, but I think that would be a good thing. It’s amazing how good the Spurs have managed to be for so long. It will be sad to see the day the Duncan era ends, and I fear the death of 90s era type basketball teams.

      • 37yrfan says:

        ….we can but HOPE …..other teams will not just keep on buying a new ‘set’ of Stars and throw them together and say ….go win a championship !!!!

  38. jumppong says:

    SPURS win and stay HUMBLE yeah. one win to go DETHRONE the KING

    • 37yrfan says:

      ……having watched them play , on TV and at the 3 different arenas that they have played in, that has Always been their M.O. (no matter how many times they were scr*wed)…………..especially in The Admiral’s era…….

  39. Nana says:

    Let’s go spurs …

  40. Marco29 says:

    Heat will probably show up in game 5 with a higher energy and Spurs will need to match the intensity
    Showing up in their uniforms will not be enough to win.
    I believe Spurs players are aware of that and I trust Pop to maintain the pressure on his team.
    Go Spurs and finish a job well done.

  41. lbj says:

    trade entire heat roster and 100m for kawhi, accept please.

  42. lbj says:

    Man king james needs to join the spurs if he is ever going to get another title. Trade wade, bosh, and james for kawhi please, or at least for boris diaw.

  43. Phil says:

    The Spurs are really on a different level right now. Strong offense and defense. They are playing basketball with near-perfection. At the same time, the Miami heat is struggling with their game. They just don’t seem coordinated. The Spurs are playing better, but we (Heat fans) should not give up just yet. It’s a 3-1 lead, not a 3-1 win. We’ll see on Sunday whether I’m talking nonsense or not. Anyways, I love the NBA.

    • 37yrfan says:

      ….don’t have to wait for Sunday to know whether you are talking ‘nonsense’…….. you are Right on the Money !!