The San Antonio Spurs had two chances to seal another NBA Championship in last year’s finals, losing both Game 6 and 7.
This year, they’ve earned an extra chance with a 107-86 demolition on South Beach.
The Spurs rode out of Miami undefeated, having handed the Heat not just their first home defeat of these playoffs but also their first consecutive playoff losses for 48 games.
Boris Diaw may not have lit the nets on fire for San Antonio, however his 8-point, 9-rebound, 9-assist night encapsulates the Spurs’ overwhelming advantage in this series – any player is capable of walking onto the court and leading the team to victory. Kawhi Leonard did it in Game 3, Diaw assumed the role in Game 4.
Leonard followed up his career-playoff high 29 Game 3 points with 20 more Thursday night, hitting seven of his 12 shots from the floor and hauling down 14 rebounds. His night was punctuated with a vicious putback slam, towering above the rim to stuff the ball home.
The performances of the likes of Diaw and Leonard allowed Tim Duncan to score just 10 points and grab 11 boards. That line was enough to see him become the leader in playoff double-doubles, surpassing Magic Johnson with his 148th.
Duncan also became the leader in NBA Playoff minutes played, having now played 8,870 minutes, ahead of former-Laker star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Tony Parker was also afforded a fairly inconspicuous night. The guard scored 19 points but dished out just a pair of assists.
San Antonio kept up it’s phenomenal shooting performance, following up Game 3’s scarcely believable 76 percent first-half clip with a 57.1 percent rate in Game 4.
Miami, on the other hand, hit just 45 percent of it’s shots as they gave up a second straight blowout on their homecourt, looking a shell of the team that has appeared in four consecutive finals, winning the last two. For the first time in several seasons, LeBron James has been simply unable to will his team to victory.
James scored 28 points, making 10 of his 17 shots but was never truly in the ascendancy as he was in Miami’s Game 2 win.
Certainly a contributing factor was Dwyane Wade‘s woeful 3-13 clip from the field, scoring 10 points as he watched his team slip to an insipid defeat.
No team has recovered from 3-1 down in an NBA Finals. The Miami Heat don’t look like the team to end the streak.