Tuesday night, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat, 114-104, to move within one victory of winning their fifth championship in franchise history.
That’s all that needs to be said.
After the debacle that was Game 4, everyone (myself included), called out Manu Ginobili for his lackluster performance in the NBA Finals so far. He wasn’t Manu anymore. He was just some guy named Emanuel. And on Sunday night, Emanuel became Manu again.
Ginobili led the Spurs with 24 points and 10 assists in 33 minutes. Also leading the Spurs…their entire starting lineup. Parker had 26 points and 5 assists, Green had 24 points, 6 assists and 3 blocks, Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and lastly, Kawhi Leonard had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
Not only was it Manu’s first start since Game 6 of the 2012 Western Conference Finals, but it was his first 10-assist game since 2008. But tonight’s win didn’t come easy.
LeBron James, (25 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals) said before the game that he thought it was time the Heat won consecutive games in the playoffs. Something they haven’t done since Game 5 in the second round versus Chicago. And they definitely gave the Spurs a run for their money.
Everyone knows the cliche, “Basketball is a game of runs.” And never has there been a game where that was more true than this one. After a 17-17 tie in first quarter, the Spurs went on a 15-2 run to end the quarter. Miami would respond with a 14-2 run in the second, cutting San Antonio’s lead to five. But the game deciding run would occur toward the end of the third quarter and continue into the fourth. A Shane Battier free throw made it 75-74 Spurs with just 3:04 left in the third. San Antonio would go on a 21-2 run that bled into the fourth, putting the Spurs ahead 96-76, with 8:37 left in the game. The silver and black would survive a couple mini-runs, and hold on for the 10 point victory.
But the job isn’t done. The Spurs ended their 2012-2013 season inside the AT&T Center with a win, and are only one game away from their fifth title. Now the American Airlines Arena in Miami awaits them, where the Spurs managed to steal Game 1 of this series. Only three teams in NBA history have won Games 6 and 7 at home to win a championship, most recently with the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers.
If the Spurs want to pull this off, they’re going to have to be perfect on Tuesday. Because the four-time MVP, LeBron James, won’t go down without a fight. Neither will 2006 Finals MVP, Dwyane Wade, eight time All-Star Chris Bosh, or future Hall of Famer, Ray Allen. These guys are still the defending champions.
And San Antonio is only 48 minutes away from changing that. 15 wins down, one more to the goal. Go Spurs Go.