The Spurs had plenty of great moments this season, quite a few of which gained national attention. These are tide-turning, game-changing, momentum-stealing chances for greatness. The Spurs took advantage of these moments in the 2014 postseason to bring home their fifth championship.
1.) DeJuan Blair kicks Tiago Splitter in the head during Game 4
Game 4 of the Spurs-Mavericks series was critical for the Spurs. Vince Carter had won Game 3 for the Mavericks on a game winning corner 3, and the Mavericks were outplaying the Spurs in Game 4. DeJuan Blair was out to remind the Spurs what they were missing, and he was owning them. Then the kick came, which saw Blair get ejected for the remainder of the game, allowing the Spurs to get their feet back under them and tie up the series at 2, as opposed to going down 3-1, which looked like the reality up to that point. Blair also was suspended for Game 5, giving the Spurs a bit of momentum for the first time in the series.
You might say that this wasn't a Spurs play, and you'd be mostly right. But there is something about this play that I love. With DeJuan Blair all over him for the majority of the series, Tiago Splitter still hits the ground to fight over a loose ball. If it wouldn't have been for Tiago's hustle, Blair wouldn't have gotten frustrated, and the Spurs probably might not have awakened themselves like they did.
2.) Kawhi Leonard with the steal, split, and jam.
In Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, Kawhi Leonard stole a pass from Nicolas Batum and took it coast to coast for the slam, splitting a jogging Wesley Matthews and a side-running Damien Lillard, and slammed the ball home. This was a weird series for highlights because it was almost 3-0 before Portland knew they were in the second round. The Spurs couldn't close out Game 4 in Portland, so they brought it back to San Antonio for the elimination game, which they won in dominating fashion.
3.) Cory Joseph drops the hammer on Serge Ibaka
This is such a huge moment for San Antonio. The Spurs are in OKC, where they have lost the past 8 games. The bench guys are in, resigning themselves to Game 6 at home. The Spurs had a 2-0 lead in the series before Serge Ibaka came back and completely shut down the inside for the Spurs (they scored 76 points in the paint in Games 3 & 4 after having 120 in Games 1 & 2.) It was starting to look like 2012 all over again. This play not only got the team fired up, but showed just how deep the Spurs bench is. CoJo played well in those last few minutes of Game 4, and earned some playing time in Games 5 & 6. After this, the inside didn't seem so closed off for the Spurs, as they scored 84 paint points in Games 5 & 6 to close out the Thunder in OKC.
4.) Kawhi Leonard in Game 6 against the Thunder
Boris Diaw was the hero in Game 6 of the WCF, but it was The Hand that provided us with the highlights. To start the game, Kawhi let everyone know how this thing is gonna go:
And then in OT, after Manu was blocked, Russell Westbrook tries to give the Thunder the lead and force a Game 7, but Kawhi saves the day with an incredible move that might just be the cleanest block/steal of all time. Watch this play again and realize everything that Kawhi had to do to make this steal. While backing up, he had to track the pass, spin around, jump and judge Westbrook's momentum all while anticipating where he'd bring the ball up to put his hand on it and take it away. Incredible.
5.) Spurs' ridiculous team shooting in Game 3
Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals was in Miami, the scene of San Antonio's 12 month old homicide. From the get-go, the Spurs showed the wanted to get that taste out of their mouth, scoring 41 in the first quarter, tossed in another 30 in the second for a 71 point first half. Here are the first quarter highlights:
6.) Manu Ginobili has a crazy sequence in Game 5
After a hard foul drawn on Shane Battier, Manu had the latest in a long career's worth of "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" moments, which was the spark that lit the fire that burned through the rest of Game 5 and the NBA Finals. Manu hit a few threes to bring the Spurs back into the game after Miami came out roaring, then he blew up the AT&T Center with this:
Manu said after the game that he was forced to promise he'd never try that dunk again after being blocked against OKC's Caron Butler. Sometimes, though, you have to break a promise for the greater good.