The 2014 NBA Finals featured a marquee battle between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, but it became clear throughout the series that the veteran-laden Western Conference champions were the much better team.
San Antonio beat Miami 4-1 for the NBA title.
There are few fans who will question the fact that LeBron James was the most talented player on the floor for the Heat and arguably the best player in the NBA, but the Spurs play with a team-first mentality that is unmatched.
Here are the complete results and scores from the championship series and a breakdown of the 2014 NBA Finals.
|June 5||1||Spurs beat Heat||110-95|
|June 8||2||Heat beat Spurs||98-96|
|June 10||3||Spurs beat Heat||111-92|
|June 12||4||Spurs beat Heat||107-86|
|June 15||5||Spurs beat Heat||104-87|
Breaking Down San Antonio’s Victory vs. Miami
There is an abundance of talented players on the Miami roster. While there is arguably more athleticism and star power on the Heat, there is no organization in the league with a more team-first mindset than San Antonio.
Led by veteran head coach Gregg Popovich, every player on the Spurs is held responsible for what they do or don’t do on the court. The Spurs have been on the same page and fighting for the same cause for years, and the steady stream of NBA championships signals the franchise has done something correctly.
ESPN’s Mike Greenberg talked about how much San Antonio deserves the series win:
One of the greatest team performances in the history of the sport. You can't deserve a title any more than these #Spurs did.— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) June 16, 2014
After winning the fifth championship with the combination of Popovich and big man Tim Duncan (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and now 2014), the entire franchise has launched itself into the conversation for greatest team of all time.
The 1990s Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan are the benchmark for dynasties in the NBA, but with five titles in 15 years, Duncan and his Spurs crew have put themselves in the debate.
Radio personality John P. Lopez talked about where this team ranks all-time:
When analyzing this Spurs team, they will rank with '96 Bulls, '72 Lakers, '86 Celtics & '89 Pistons as the greatest ever. Not arguable.— John P. Lopez (@LopezOnSports) June 16, 2014
Unlike Chicago or even Miami, San Antonio doesn’t have a player widely regarded as the best in the league. What the Spurs do have is a depth chart full of role players willing to work hard to do their job.
While Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are NBA stars, they are not the flashy names that fans immediately think about like James, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant. Duncan and Parker contributed to the championship effort, but it was the way the role players stepped up that won the title.
NBA legend Dennis Rodman congratulated San Antonio and consoled the Heat after the loss:
The perfect example is 2014 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. After being an afterthought for most casual basketball fans for the majority of the year, Leonard stepped up in the playoffs and took the series over in the finals.
Which team will win another championship sooner?
Add in the stellar play of Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills, and there was no chance for Miami to compete without the entire roster buying into the same system. While the Heat are talented, the team didn’t look to be on the same page during the Finals.
When Miami got in trouble, the players looked to James to bail them out instead of doing everything in their power to fill their specific roles. As seen in the five-game loss in the championship, the Heat need everyone focused, or the team will lose.
While it is unclear which players will return next season and which stars will go out on top, it is clear that San Antonio will keep winning as long as the mindset and game plan Popovich instilled is still in place.
*Stats via NBA.com.