The Miami Heat are the NBA Champions over the San Antonio Spurs, after what is sure to be one of the most classic NBA Finals of all-time. However, in many ways it was the Spurs series to lose as they were leading the battle from game 1.
- (Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)
Spurs player performance breakdown:
Tony Parker was never able to get into his groove in game 7. In game 6, he didn't emerge until the fourth quarter so thoughts were he would this time. However, he just looked too spent and was too well-guarded, he only scored 10 points.
Tim Duncan's performance in the finals was inspiring. To watch a 37-year-old lead his team and dominate the Heat for stretches was incredible. However, just like in the second half of game 6, the Heat defense was able to shut down arguably the greatest power forward ever .
Duncan's point blank layup miss with just about a minute to go cost the Spurs tying the game and stopping the Heat momentum. The usually stoic power forward showed true emotion on the court slapping the ground and looked dejected and sick for the last minute.
It is hard not to love Manu Ginobili, but after game 6 and 7, one can honestly put a lot of the blame on his shoulders.While the Argentian guard provided stunning drives to the basket, quick hands, and the occasional three, it's all the stuff he did in between that hurt his team greatly.
Starting with game 6, Ginobili only had two baskets and turned the ball over eight times. He single handedly lost game 6 with sloppy passing and forced possesions.
In game 7 he was solid the whole way until the last five minutes. Sure he made a big three pointer, but it was his two prayer-heaves from behind the line between that shot that were bad. Not to mention the ball he let slip through his fingers, and the one he put into Lebron's hand to seal the deal.
Another major failure for the Spurs was the play of Danny Green. Green put on a shooting display from behind the arc in the beginning of the series. Overall he hit 27 three pointers which is a finals record. However, his two for 21 shooting in games 6 and 7 virtually made him useless on the court. He also had a few key turnovers as well.
The unsung hero for the Spurs was second year player Kawhi Leonard. Plain and simple he was ridiculously good last night. He compiled 19 points and 16 rebounds as well as hit a huge momentum shift three pointer. He also had the daunting task of guarding the best player in the world, Lebron, to which at times was good and at others he gave him too much space allowing him to hit five uncontested three's.
At moments he looked like the most inspired man on the court especially after making an incredible reverse layup getting contact and making the foul shot. Leonard is not without fault either though. One can argue that it was his missed freethrow in game 6 that cost the Spurs the win, and eventually the series.
One player the Spurs could have used more of on the court was forward/center, Boris Diaw. In his 12 minutes of play he was great defensively, hit a big three pointer, and made key passes to cutting men. Seeing Diaw on the court would have been much better than Green who gave the Spurs nothing.
Lastly, some blame falls to Greg Popvich, the Spurs head coach. The commander behind the ship made some questionable calls during games 6 and 7. His decision to rest Parker and Duncan toward the end of games was admirable, but those guys needed to be on the court.
Why was Parker sitting with under a minute to go, especially with Ginobili's inconsistent ball-handeling? Also questionable was his continuous use of Green when he had nothing in the tank. It is easy to understand that he may have earned it with his spectacular playing earlier, but in the finals you have to have the best right now, whether that be Duncan or the last man on the bench.
Ultimately San Antonio was just out played in the end. Many will cite age as a factor and though, Parker looked gassed most of the night. But one can't take anything away from the Heat. They got big stops, hit big shots, and played with unmatched intensity.
Their bench provided superb defense, and Shane Battier who found his way to the end of the bench for most of the series showed up and popped six three pointers.
Coach Erik Spoelstra was excellent in his decision making, Dwyane Wade hit big buckets, and Lebron James is the best player in the world right now, and sometimes that's all it takes.