The San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Finals.
Many professional analysts and media figures from the basketball world predicted the Spurs to triumph over the Heat, butnot in the manner by which they actually did so. The Spurs completely dominated the Heat. They beat them subtly in Game 1, took the day off in Game 2, and wiped the floor with them in the final three games.
Over the last three games of the series, the first two played in Miami and the closer played in San Antonio, the Spurs outscored the Heat by 57 combined points. Let that sink in: 57 points, against the reigning champs. A 57 point series differential (albeit in the last three games of the series) is a ridiculous margins in any playoff series, let alone a NBA Finals of this caliber. This was totally unprecedented, giving this series the most lopsided point series differential in NBA finals history. The Heat did not lose; the Spurs were just so much better in every facet of the game. The Spurs were great, and the Heat were terrible.
San Antonio played the most complete basketball that I have seen in my admittedly small experience watching the NBA. They were a passing machine, each player working within the system beautifully. The ball rarely stuck, with players such as Boris Diaw and Patty Mills stepping up in the biggest moments by facilitating scoring as well as scoring themselves. Boris Diaw led both teams with 29 assists, and had 43 rebounds in contrast to Tim Duncan’s 50. Patty Mills went on fire in the second half of Game 5, hitting multiple back-breaking three-point shots. Role players stepped up to support the Spurs’ big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili, ultimately leading to their chilling the Heat. They played team basketball all season, and all series, always passing, always moving the ball forward. If one player had a good look to shoot, but saw a better one, he would not hesitate to pass for the best look. This is a trait not generally found in modern basketball, where iso-plays and the dominance of individual superstars are emphasized. The Spurs have brought team basketball to the forefront of NBA philosophy, as they showed the dominance of their team as opposed to the dominance of an individual player on their team. Many, myself included, believed this series would last seven games, but the Spurs proved themselves to be better than anyone had expected them to be. They earned the championship.
Miami: As for Miami, they played terribly. Whether this is a credit to the Spurs’ defense, which was stupendous during the final 3 games of the series, or testament to just how far the Heat have fallen since their last Finals run, I do not know. All that is known is that Miami was exposed this series, and in a big way. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were virtually non-factors throughout the series, illustrated definitively in Wade’s terrible performances in Games 4 and 5, where he shot a combined 7 for 25 (.280) from the field and scored a measly 21 points. This showing from arguably one of the best shooting guards of the past 8 years was quite surprising, to say the least. He looked washed-up during this series, even with his generous amount of rest beginning in the regular season. Chris Bosh showed flashes of brilliance, but ultimately did not get the touches or time to be a factor in the Finals. The Heat’s point guard play was horrendous as well, with Mario “Wario” Chalmers and two-time NBA champion Norris Cole giving the Heat nothing to work with, while also committing terrible fouls at times. Their bench was nonexistent as well, especially in Game 5, when Ray Allen moved from his traditional Sixth Man role into the starting lineup to replace Chalmers. The Heat were awful that series, with the exception of LeBron James. James played tremendously well this series, essentially carrying the Heat in scoring throughout the series. Yet no one was there to back him up, and the Heat ultimately lost to the Spurs. The Heat enter an uncertain offseason, as Bosh, Wade and James all are facing player options that could either bring them back to Miami for another season or open them up to free agency.
Kawhiet Riot: KAWHI LEONARD
This year’s NBA Finals MVP is the unassuming 22-year-old Kawhi Leonard, small forward for the San Antonio Spurs. Kawhi “Sugar K” Leonard, aka “Kawhiet Storm,” aka “Kawaii~~~” Leonard, did not start off the series very well, scoring only 18 points in total. Yet he exploded in Game 3, setting a stat line of 29 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. That performance carried him into the last two games of the series, where he scored a combined 44 points. In addition to scoring, Kawhi had the hardest job on the court of the series: Defending LeBron James, the King. He played James very well this series, as there is only so much one can do when defending the greatest basketball player in the world. Kawhi was integral to the Spurs’ success in this series and deserved to be awarded Finals MVP after his exhilarating Game 3 performance. It speaks to the unselfish nature of the Spurs that there was such a great debate over who would win Finals MVP, as there were multiple members of the roster whose cases were quite strong. But Kawhi won it, and should be celebrated. The NBA season is over at last, with the San Antonio Spurs as its championship team. Here’s to another great season of NBA basketball!