I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
It's over, Spurs fans. Your San Antonio Spurs lost to the Miami Heat in seven games after battling like champions. Nothing will erase what the Spurs accomplished this season and I wouldn't exchange the heartbreak I'm feeling right now for anything in the world. Except a championship, of course. The Spurs not only held their own against everybody´s favorites; they had ample chances to win. It didn't happen for a number of reasons. Some I will explore here and some we will collectively analyze in the upcoming days.
But hold your heads high, guys. We root for a team that never quit, never listened to the almost unanimous choir of talking heads that left them for dead year after year. Our Big Three has set the standard for all contemporary super teams without even knowing it and I'm confident they have at least one more run in them. That's right, the Spurs are going nowhere. We will be here next May, looking to get Tim One for the Thumb.
Oh, right. This is a recap. Let's get on with it, then.
After a battle in Game 6, both teams started out a little slow and apprehensive. Both defenses were playing at a very high level and taking away the other team's first option. James was trying to force the issue early but couldn't convert while Parker seemed a little too tentative. It seemed like a low scoring affair that would favor the Spurs. But with Parker resting, Ginobili in early foul trouble and Duncan on the bench, the Heat took advantage of Wade's unexpected mid-range accuracy. Also hurting the Spurs, they were inexplicably collapsing when Ray Allen curled off screens, leaving Battier open. Miami finished the first up, 18 to 16.
The second quarter was diametrically opposed to the first. The stars made the difference here when both Wade and James combined for the same amount Duncan, Parker and Ginobili combined for, 21 points. Bosh was the only star absent with zero points for the half.
With James and Wade hitting outside shots, it seemed the Heat might close the half better than the Spurs. But with Ginobili leading San Antonio, they started pushing the pace more and that got them some easy buckets. The Spurs were taking the better shots and both defenses were equally impressive. Going into the break, the score was 46-44, Heat.
In the third quarter, both defenses improbably turned it up even higher. Both teams were disruptive all game but in the third Kawhi Leonard was seemingly everywhere. Kawhi pitched in nine points and Manu Ginobili contributed a great six points and two assists with no turnovers. Unfortunately, Lebron James seemed determined to become the type of player that everyone said he couldn't be; the guy that single-handedly keeps his team in it. With 13 points on 3-4 from beyond the arc, he made sure the Heat had a chance going into the fourth. Just to foreshadow the things to come, Chalmers hit a buzzer beating three off the glass to get Miami a one point lead at the end of the third.
Going into the fourth, both teams looked to their stars and their key shooters to find them points. The defenses still hadn't relented, and it would take great offensive execution and a little bit of luck to break them. Manu Ginoibili started turning the ball over against the Heat's defense, but he still contributed five points and two assists. Kawhi Leonard gave the Spurs five and five, including a clutch three pointer, but it just wasn't enough. With Parker only taking a couple of shots in the final chapter, and missing both, and Duncan unable to hit a seemingly easy shot to get the tie, the Spurs simply didn't have the firepower. James and Wade carried the Heat while Shane Battier hit a couple of timely 3-pointers... and so Miami secured their back to back championships.
We should all take a minute before judging things. We should watch the games again and get a fresh perspective. So anything I say now should be taken with a grain of salt, since I didn't have that opportunity.
- Parker failed to deliver tonight, plain and simple. The Heat's defense took away the ball handler's ability to score, but Parker just couldn't get going from anywhere. It's very, very possible he was hurt, but Tony scored only ten points in 14 shots while playing 36 minutes. He didn't even do a particularly good job as a distributor, either. It doesn't mean Parker is not a big time player or anything like that, but it is a bit disappointing that a Parker, in his prime, couldn't get the team over the top.
- Duncan and Ginobili were great. Manu's four fourth quarter turnovers hurt the team, but he was aggressive and efficient and he seldom made mistakes. Duncan's stat line was a beauty but he missed a layup that could have changed the outcome of the game and I'm sure no amount of positive reinforcement will comfort him. But these two guys seem to have something left in the tank for sure. This Spurs loss is not on them.
- Danny Green is a shooter. A 3-and-D guy. Remember that whenever you want to complain about his performance over the past couple of games. He needs someone to create shots for him and a defense to allow him enough space to take them. It didn't happen and his historical shooting run ended. It sucked but it doesn't mean he is worthless. It was a very good series for Green.
- The Spurs bench just isn't very impressive without Ginobili. Diaw did well but he is not the type of guy you want to rely on. Splitter is a pick and roll guy that can be rendered pretty much useless by an aggressive help defense. And Neal can't dribble or defend. They all have value but they need a specific set of circumstances to make a difference and Spoelstra made sure that didn't happen.
- Kawhi Leonard is the new Manu. At least in terms of him being your new favorite player. The kid is fearless, disruptive, smart and conservative, but specifically when it's required. He can board, score and is not afraid of a big shot. I'm so looking forward to Kawhi's development, but I still very much enjoy the player he Is now.
- Credit should go to the Heat. They were definitely fortunate that their shot chart looked like this:
But they did battle and James and Wade were great. Pretty much all their role players came up big at one point or another.They have a fantastic team and the best player in the planet. I'm looking forward to meeting them again in the finals next season.
Alright, guys. This ends it for the recapping team and the preview team for the season. I want to thank you on everyone's behalf for reading. We will be here next season.
But don't think this ends PtR's coverage for the year. We will dissect this series to death, look at who should be brought back, and who could be picked in the draft. We will be here for Summer League and preseason. So stick around.
But seriously, this team was as good as it gets. We'll miss them. It was special. GO SPURS GO!