The San Antonio Spurs thoroughly dominated the Miami Heat on Thursday night, cruising to a 20-point first-half lead and an easy 107-86 win on Miami's home court.
The Spurs dominate both ends of the floor again as they win Game 4 107-86! All 13 Spurs scored in the win pic.twitter.com/8xOH7JVUvA— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 13, 2014
No, you didn't accidentally stumble upon the Game 3 recap. It happened again, and the Spurs now have a commanding 3-1 series lead, which has proved insurmountable in NBA Finals history, per Sports Illustrated:
No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.— SI NBA (@si_nba) June 13, 2014
Tony Parker (19 points) led a balanced effort, Kawhi Leonard had a double-double (20 points, 14 rebounds) and provided tremendous defense, Boris Diaw nearly triple-doubled (eight points, nine rebounds, nine assists), and the Spurs shot a scintillating 57.1 percent from the field.
Parker, via Yahoo Sports' Jeff Zillgitt, summarized San Antonio's performance after the game:
Tony Parker: "I just think we’re playing Spurs basketball. ... We like to do good to great, the extra pass. We preach that."— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) June 13, 2014
Tim Duncan also notched a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds), setting two postseason records in the process:
Tim Duncan: most career minutes in NBA postseason history (passed Kareem Abdul Jabbar in his 14th minute tonight)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2014
Tim Duncan is now the all-time double-doubles leader in NBA Playoffs history. pic.twitter.com/qKr889uJFT— ESPN (@espn) June 13, 2014
For much of the game, it looked more like varsity vs. JV than the two best teams in the league.
With 28 points, LeBron James carried the Heat as much as possible, but he got not help. Chris Bosh had 12 points on 11 shots, Dwyane Wade was 3-of-13 from the field and the Heat had as many turnovers (13) as assists.
Skolnick had James' thoughts on the loss:
LeBron: "I mean, they smashed us. Two straight home games. Got off to awful starts."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 13, 2014
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra, via ESPN's Tom Haberstroh and Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick, was understandably baffled after his team's second consecutive blowout loss:
Erik Spoelstra on the Spurs, shaking his head: "They ... they ... they just ... they played great."— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 13, 2014
Spoelstra: "They played great. I can honestly say I don't think any of us were expecting this type of performance."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 13, 2014
While the Spurs had a historically potent offensive outburst in the first half of Game 3 but let Miami shoot the lights out as well, Thursday was a much more comprehensive effort.
Offensively, they "only" shot 55.6 percent from the field through the first 24 minutes, but it was the same approach: fast, precise ball movement, five players working as one cohesive unit and everyone knocking down open shots.
Nine different players scored. Diaw (three points, five rebounds, four assists, plus-15) continued to do underrated, stat-sheet-stuffing kinds of things. Parker got into the lane at will. Leonard hit the offensive glass. Danny Green and Patty Mills hit 5-of-8 threes.
ESPN gave a look at the shot chart:
On the other end, San Antonio was stifling. The Heat scored 17 points in the first quarter, 19 in the second, shot just 35.3 percent from the floor and couldn't do anything on the interior, per NBA.com's John Schuhmann:
The Heat are 4-for-15 in the paint. Incredible. pic.twitter.com/OiDt862NgQ— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) June 13, 2014
It was an absolutely dominant effort, and ESPN's Kevin Pelton went as far to compare it to the record-setting Game 3:
Others have said this, but the Spurs' defense tonight has been every bit as good as their offense in the first half of Game 3.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) June 13, 2014
Put it all together and, as the boo birds rang loudly at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Spurs led, 55-36, at the break, putting them at a silly plus-40 over the last two first halves.
Schuhmann summarized it best:
Have to say it: The champs are getting their butts kicked in this series.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) June 13, 2014
Also reminiscent of Game 3, though, the Heat came out of the locker room firing. Unsurprisingly, James was at the forefront of a run that quickly cut San Antonio's lead to 13.
NBA.com highlighted the former Finals MVP's complete 180 from the first half:
LeBron had 9 points on 3/7 shooting in 1st half. He's scored 10 points on 4/4 shooting in just over 4 mins of the 3rdQ #NBAFinals— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) June 13, 2014
That was as close as Miami would get, though. James continued to score, but his teammates couldn't keep pace. He had 19 of Miami's 21 third-quarter points and 28 of its 57 through three periods.
The Spurs, meanwhile, continued to resemble one of those cartoons where they have 20 players on the court at the same time, tracking down every loose ball and making every play to run their lead up to 24.
At that point, only comparisons to other sports seemed to do their transcendent performance justice:
We're watching a team follow up a perfect game with a no-hitter. Or the other way around. That's all I've got. Baseball analogies.— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) June 13, 2014
This reminds me of the scene in Two Escobars where the Argentina fans gave Colombia a standing O for a 5-0 away win. Respect greatness.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) June 13, 2014
The fourth quarter was nothing more than a formality, as the Spurs got a basket out of every player who appeared in the game (all 13 players scored) and coasted to another blowout win on the road.
Understatement of the year: Miami is in big trouble.
Who will win Game 5?
If the Heat are going to three-peat, they now need to win three games in a row, with Sunday's Game 5 and a potential Game 7 both coming in San Antonio.
As if that's not difficult enough against a really good team, the Spurs are clicking on every single cylinder now and surpassed being a "really good team" a long time ago.
The Spurs are returning home, and with the way they're playing, they won't be leaving anytime soon.