Nope. Game 3 wasn’t a fluke.
Miami is in South Beach hot sh*t after going down 3-1 in another blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs, 107-86, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night in Miami. The symphonic and synchronized Spurs offense kept rolling over an apparently tired and sluggish Heat team by spitting another four quarters of fury on both ends of the ball. Pop's boys have made it clear how they feel about Miami and this c'hip situation.
San Antonio was cruising 81-57 by the start of the fourth quarter and LeBron was on the bench resting after a third quarter in which he scored 19 points and was playing one-on-five. It wasn’t like the Spurs were shutting LBJ down. LeBron had 19 points in the third and finished with a quiet 28, but he didn’t dent the Spurs’ flow.
How could he when Tiago Splitter's playing like Tom Chambers and executing reverse layups between three Miami defenders including LeBron; and Kawhi Leonard is proving my fellow TSL all-star Alejandro Danois correct by attacking the rim with Dr. J's ruthless cockiness and athleticism. The epitome of team basketball is on display and even King James can’t stop an army of deft shooters and passers for dolo.
Entering that fourth-quarter Boris Diaw, who nearly freaked a triple-double, had as many assists as the entire Heat team (seven) and the Heat had a 65-56 turnover to assist total for the series.
Miami just can’t handle the masterful spacing, timing and pick-n-roll precision executed by the entire Spurs lineup, regardless of who’s on the floor. It's looking like Wu Tang Clan against JJ Fad out there.
In Game 3 on Tuesday, San Antonio had 25 possessions with at least six passes. In Game 4 the execution wasn’t historic, but another career-defining game by Leonard (20 pts, 14 rebounds, three blocks), a world of energy and some dog-hard D started the engine rolling.
It was 55-33 with 1:07 left in the first half, and the Heat trailed by 20 points in the second quarter for the second time in the past two games. James was the only Heat player with more than eight points headed into the fourth.
Nine Spurs scored in the first half, and the Spurs continue to win with a shared scoring effort. Tony Parker had 19 points and Tim Duncan (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Manu Ginobili (seven points) put in a light night.
"They just played great and I can honestly say I don't think any of us were expecting this kind of performance," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They were great. You have to give them credit for that. We just couldn't get into a rhythm on either side of the ball, and it went from there."
A fifth c'hip for Duncan would tie him with Kobe for most among active players and if he locks it up on Sunday it will go down as his most easily obtained piece of championship hardware. Son's barely breaking a sweat out there.
When asked after the game how the Spurs are dismantling the two-time defending world champs and rendering the greatest player on earth helpless, Leonard said, “Just teamwork. Pop is a great coach and he has a great staff. They see things in film we come in watch the film and listen to them and just do what they say.”
It’s almost like a repeat of certain playoff games last season when LeBron was a man on an island playing with himself (that doesn’t sound kosher but its accurate). He might as well have been in Cleveland again. It’s been that way the past two games as Miami has struggled to find any other consistent scoring option, while the Spurs share the rock like college kids on a 20 sack of Loud. Wade’s fighting but at this point he is a shell of his former self. They can’t shoot his knees up with enough crap to get him to recapture his ups.
It was a Bedstuy moment as they started the fourth quarter with James on the bench, but the Spurs kept moving the ball like The Gashouse Gang playing pepper back in the 1930’s.
A second consecutive thrashing was being inflicted upon Miami, a team that doesn’t lose back-to-back games in the playoffs, certainly not at the crib. Before getting swept at home this week, Miami had the third-most consecutive games without consecutive losses in NBA playoff history with 48. The Bill Russell–led 1962-66 Boston Celtics had 54 and the 1990-93 Jordan Bulls ran off 52.
Heat fans are surely in the doldrums, but the voice of reason, ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy, kept it 100.
“It's quite possible, Miami just doesn’t have enough,” said the former Knicks coach right after Patty Mills (14 points off the bench) drained a 3-pointer with 11:15 left in the fourth to stretch the Spurs commanding lead to 84-59. All LBJ could do was sit next to Michael Beasley, who was rocking a pimp-flavored silver suit and plead his case to anyone who would listen. He didn’t seem to have many takers as the action was on the court, where Wade’s jumper with 11:00 left was just his second field goal and inched Miami two points closer. Then Wade got to the line and nailed one of two free throws to pull within 84-64
He was a horrific 2-of-12 shooting at that point with seven points. It wasn’t enough and it didn’t spark a rally. Neither did LBJ’s return. In fact by the 3:00 mark of the fourth quarter Wade and James were both done for the night.
Now The Big Three Face the most daunting hurdle of their illustrious careers. Four straight trips to the Finals and if they lose Game 5 on Sunday night their legacy is significantly damaged. They go from possible three-peat champs to .500 chumps with c'hips on the table. If they did muster a comeback it would be the first time in NBA Finals history that a team recovered from a 3-1 hole. If it’s any consolation to Miami Heat dreamers and LBJ loyalists, it has happened eight out of 223 times in NBA playoff history, so anything's possible.
Pat Riley is probably on the phone with Papi Ortiz so he can come in and inspire the Heat with his story of how Boston became the first team in MLB history to win in seven games after going down 3-0 to the Yankees in the ‘04 playoffs. “Our team has been through everything you possibly can be through except for this circumstance.. so why not," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra in the postgame presser. Why not test ourselves collectively. ..our champions resolve.”
It probably won’t be enough at this point.
ABC analyst Mark Jackson said, “ I will not say it can’t happen, but I will say it won’t happen if the Heat continues to play like this.”