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Spurs Collect Fifth Championship

With a 104-87 victory over the Miami Heat, the San Antonio Spurs won a fifth NBA championship on Sunday.

With a 104-87 victory over the Miami Heat, the San Antonio Spurs won a fifth NBA championship.

The San Antonio Spurs are champions again.

Seven years after winning its last championship, and 15 years after the franchise lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy for the very first time, San Antonio climbed to the top of the mountain once more with a dominant performance on Sunday night.

The Spurs put together yet another total team performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, thrashing the Miami Heat 104-87 to win the series 4-1.

Playing in front of a fervent home crowd at AT&T Center, the Spurs got strong performances at both ends of the floor, once more putting together a visually appealing offensive game while stifling the Heat on the defensive end.

The Spurs would go on to win by 17 points, the fourth time this series the team had won comfortably by 15 or more.

Things didn’t look like they were going to go San Antonio’s way early on though.

LeBron James had a big first quarter, tallying 17 points. The Heat built up an early 22-6 lead, holding the Spurs without a field goal for almost the first five minutes of the game. With shots dropping freely, the Heat looked as though it was to record its own blowout victory.

But the Spurs are a resilient bunch that knows how to play four quarters of basketball.

A 12-0 run put paid to the Heat’s big lead, which was erased for good with a little less than five minutes left in the second quarter. At halftime, the Spurs owned a seven-point lead of their own. By midway through the third quarter, the home side had gone on a 59-22 run.

Miami was held to just 29 points total in the second and third periods but, trailing by 19 entering the fourth, endeavored to cut the lead. That venture was quickly quashed by the Spurs’ offense, which eventually sent Miami’s starters to the bench and the crowd into jubilation.

Kawhi Leonard, named the NBA Finals MVP after the game, finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, not to mention the world’s attention. The 22-year-old flourished in the final three games of the series, proving to be a potent a defender as a scorer.

After breaking the record for most career postseason double-doubles in Game 4, Tim Duncan finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks. His 15 years between first and last(?) NBA titles is second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who went 17 years between titles.

Even after going scoreless through the first 35 minutes and 45 seconds of the game, Tony Parker ended the contest with 16 points after a strong fourth quarter.

Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills had 19 and 17 points respectively off the bench, as the Spurs’ substitutes outscored the Heat bench to the tune of 47-24.

The Heat meanwhile watched as James went for 31 points and 10 rebounds, but the four-time Most Valuable Player simply received no help.

Dwyane Wade had another finals game to forget, tallying just 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Chris Bosh had 13 points, but was a game-worst -20 while on the floor. Making his first start of the postseason, Ray Allen had just five points.

For Miami, it was a disappointing end to what was ultimately a disappointing series for the South Florida side, and one that will have many questioning whether the ‘Big 3’ – all of whom have an option to exit the team this offseason – will be back or if the team can find a way to add a supporting cast that offers offense and defense.

Tim Duncan wins his fifth NBA championship to join a very elite bunch of players.

Tim Duncan wins his fifth NBA championship to join a very elite bunch of players.

After finishing the regular season with the league’s best record, after playing like the league’s best team in the playoffs, and after outplaying Miami in the finals, the San Antonio Spurs rightfully earned the privilege to be called the NBA’s best team. And a team effort it was.

While there are few will gripe with Leonard’s selection as the MVP, this was perhaps the first time in NBA history that the award should have been shared by the team. From Parker leading the charge; Leonard blossoming in front of the world; Duncan excelling (again); Ginobili providing instant offense when it was needed most; Boris Diaw giving it all and giving the Heat nightmares; Mills shooting with stone cold abandon; Tiago Splitter playing professional minutes despite being jerked out of the starting lineup; Danny Green knowing when to shoot and when to let someone else take over; and the important minutes from Matt Bonner, Marco Belinelli, and the rest of the Spurs’ bench.

This truly was an instance of there being no championship without each and every cog in the machine. And that’s not forgetting Gregg Popovich, who once more shined as the best coach in basketball.

San Antonio earned its fifth championship, a championship that was well deserved.

The Spurs join the Los Angeles Lakers as the only five-time champions since Michael Jordan hung up his sneakers for the second time, and just the fourth franchise in NBA history to win five titles, joining the Lakers, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.

In terms of the betting world, the Spurs did exactly what bookmakers had expected, at least since the participants for the NBA Finals were locked in.

The Spurs had seen odds as long as 14/1 when the season tipped off and 11/1 at the All-Star break. The Heat had been the wire-to-wire favorite until the finals rolled around.

Since failing to cover the spread in their opening six postseason games, the Spurs finished on a tear against the spread, going 13-4-0 ATS over the last 17 games, including 4-1-0 ATS in the NBA Finals. Bettors backing the Spurs across the board this series have been rewarded.

While the dust will need to settle on these finals before we can gage what the future is for either side, expect both to be installed as favorites when the 2014-15 NBA futures are released later this week. And then expect a lot of movement when the NBA Draft rolls around in 10 days.


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