Over the last few days, there was no escaping the result of the San Antonio Spurs season last year. The Spurs were just 28-seconds away from winning the NBA Championship before Danny Green missed a box out on LeBron James, which allowed James to put in a last minute bucket to force the game into overtime. The Heat would eventually win that game, as well as Game 7 to win their second consecutive NBA Championship. It was one of the wildest turnarounds in sports history, and you couldn’t escape hearing about it as things led up to the two teams matching up against each other on Thursday night.
It may not have been for an NBA Championship, but the Spurs 111-87 win allowed for a bit of revenge, and it might’ve also turned some heads around the league as well.
Despite being in second place in the West, the Spurs have earned plenty of criticism against the tougher teams that they’ve played this year. Although they have one of the best records in the league against sub .500 teams, they have showed continual problems against Oklahoma City and Portland, and they also had a 0-2 record against Indiana and Miami before Thursday.
Tim Duncan was the biggest factor in this one for the Spurs. He had 23 points, 11 rebounds and added a block as well. He also had two assists, including one on a pass to Thiago Splitter where Duncan led a fast break and looked more like Tony Parker. Just two games after LeBron hit a career high against Charlotte with 61, he only churned out 19 on Thursday. Instead, Chris Bosh led the team with 24 points scoring.
The 24-point loss was the biggest deficit for the Heat on the year. It also showed that despite some of the slumping that the Spurs have had against the better teams in the league, they should not be misjudged or undervalued. Instead, they have proven time and time again that they are in no rush to prove anything during the regular season, and their age and experience does all the talking they need in the playoffs.
One of the biggest reasons that LeBron was relatively quiet on the night could’ve been because of his broken nose. He removed his mask during the game but hardly saw much improvement as he went just 1-11 from outside the paint. Much of his struggles surely also had to come because of the lock-down defense that Kawhi Leonard provided, holding LeBron to one of his worst shooting performances on the year.
It’s hard to focus on one moment and give it too much oversight. However, if James hadn’t gotten that rebound in Game 6 last year, we might be looking at a completely different makeup of the NBA. Instead of being the two-time defending champions, the Heat would’ve lost to the elderly Spurs. And instead of things being harmonious in South Beach, we surely would’ve heard plenty of controversy surrounding the Big Three. Nonetheless, the Heat did win and things have been going their way thus far this year.
However, if you think that we could be looking at a finals rematch between these two teams, consider the importance that Thursday’s game could’ve had. It wasn’t just a loss, but it was a huge loss. There has to be something said about the mental warfare that the Spurs play on teams with their, “we’ll beat you when we want to beat you attitude.” And with both teams virtually identical with their current records, the home court advantage could be the biggest factor into that potential series.
The Heat are now at 2/1 to win the NBA Championship this year and the Spurs have moved to 12/1. It’s not too late to hop on the Spurs-train, if you think they can hold up throughout the remainder of the year and throughout the playoffs as they make what could be one of the last pushes of the Tim Duncan era.