The 2014 NBA playoffs are coming to a close, as the San Antonio Spurs are taking care of business against the Miami Heat to ensure that a Game 6 letdown won't occur like it did in the 2013 NBA Finals.
San Antonio is up 3-1 in the 2014 NBA Finals. Aside from a shaky performance in their Game 2 loss, the Spurs have been fantastic the rest of the way. Miami, on the other hand, has appeared lax and incapable of taking down the Western Conference champs.
The Larry O'Brien Trophy hasn't been awarded to the Spurs just yet, though. If there was one team in the NBA I'd pick to win three games straight, it would be the Heat. The team is assembled far too well to not make this series interesting.
Game 5 will be crucial. It will either be the beginning of a three-game run for Miami or the end of the NBA's 2013-14 season. Either way, it's can't-miss stuff. Below you'll find the schedule and TV information for the game.
Schedule and TV Info
|Sunday, June 15||Game 5: Heat at Spurs||8 p.m.||ABC|
LeBron James was the player most detrimental to Miami's loss in Game 4. Despite 28 points, eight rebounds and two assists, he posted a game-worst plus-minus of negative-21, courtesy of NBA.com. While the loss isn't entirely his fault, James certainly didn't help defensively.
He also didn't help all that much offensively. Despite 28 points, James didn't set up his teammates as frequently as he does. It looked like he was pressing at times. That will have to change in Game 5.
James even acknowledged that his team was showing signs of defeat after the game, via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
Ours heads are a little down right now. … It's just human nature, but we still have to go out and play on Sunday. They smashed us two straight home games. Got off to awful starts. They came in and were much better than us in these two games. It's that simple.
Like I said, James isn't the only one to blame for the loss. Defensively, Miami didn't rotate well and the team was unable to consistently defend the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw, Tony Parker and even Patty Mills. When those guys are firing on all cylinders, primary scoring options like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili can have their way with the defense.
The game plan for Game 5 is simple for the Heat. They must play aggressive, physical, smart defense. They shouldn't focus heavily on offense. This team can score in bunches, and they have the best player in the world. Even if James didn't have a great Game 4, he will bounce back in this series.
San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan surpassed elite company in Game 4, as he became the career leader in double-doubles in the playoffs. ESPN tweeted the new leaderboard, while Magic Johnson—the man Duncan passed for No. 1—also sent out his congratulations:
Tim Duncan is now the all-time double-doubles leader in NBA Playoffs history. pic.twitter.com/qKr889uJFT— ESPN (@espn) June 13, 2014
Congrats to Tim Duncan the new All-Time NBA Playoff Double-Double Leader!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 13, 2014
That isn't all, however. Duncan also passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most minutes played in NBA playoffs history. Abdul-Jabbar sent out his congratulations via Twitter as well:
Congrats to #TimDuncan on passing me for the most minutes played in the NBA Finals - I appreciate the fact that you did it with class!— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) June 13, 2014
The Big Fundamental, as Duncan is called, is one of the premier big men in the history of the NBA. These stats just prove it. Given the type of man he is, though, Duncan was probably more excited about the win in Game 4 than the accolades that came during play.
It could be the end of an era, though, as NBA.com's Adam Zagoria pointed out:
Sunday could well be Tim Duncan's final game in the NBA. People should appreciate what they're seeing as that happens.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) June 13, 2014
Now, there are no definite signs that point to his retirement, but Duncan could very well hang 'em up after the season. He'll likely go out with a championship too. There's no way Duncan lets the Spurs lose this championship, especially after last year's meltdown in Game 6.
I think the Spurs will eventually lock this series up, and it will all be because of Duncan.