Under-the-radar Spurs stand at the brink of NBA title after Game 5 victory
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 16, 2013 10:34PM
Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs - Game 5
HEAT vs. SPURS
Spurs lead series 3-2
All games on Ch. 7/1000-AM
G1: Spurs 92, at Heat 88
G2: at Heat 103, Spurs 84
G3: at Spurs 113, Heat 77
G4: Heat 109, at Spurs 93
G5: at Spurs 114, Heat 104
G6: Tuesday at Heat, 8 p.m.
*G7: Thursday at Heat, 8 p.m.
Updated: June 17, 2013 11:00AM
SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs moved one victory away from greatness.
They can earn the right to carry the title of NBA dynasty, shared by the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Bulls.
By beating the Miami Heat 114-104 in Game 5 on Sunday, the Spurs inched closer to their fifth championship trophy since 1999.
And no one outside the San Antonio city limits will give a hoot.
Maybe it’s the mild-mannered demeanor of the Spurs players. Maybe it’s the no-nonsense, stale answers of coach Gregg Popovich. But never has a team that has done so much on the big stage been barely a blip on the radar nationwide.
The ratings don’t lie. Since ’99, the two NBA Finals with the lowest viewership involved the Spurs. The only reason they had good ratings in their two other title runs was the opponent: They played the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks.
Sorry, Spurs, but even if you win one of the next two games in Miami, the fondest memory you will leave is being so forgettable.
This series has been about the Heat. The Spurs don’t win games, the Heat find ways to lose them.
It’s a habit that has formed far too often since the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers, in which the Heat was taken to Game 7. Then came the NBA Finals, with the Spurs drawing first blood in Game 1. Neither team has been able to win back-to-back games.
That has to be weighing on the minds of the defending champs, who will have to break that trend if they want to repeat.
“I always kind of focus on the present,’’ four-time MVP LeBron James said after the latest loss. “And for us, the next challenge is Tuesday night. We have an opportunity on our home floor to keep the series going, and we look forward to it.’’
They better be looking forward because looking back is just an ugly reminder of how this series has exposed the “Big Three’’ and how it might lead to the trio breaking up sooner than expected.
On Sunday, Manu Ginobili went from the side of the milk carton to surprise starter, scoring 24 points and passing out 10 assists. Not bad for his first start of the entire season just 30 hours after weighing his retirement because of how poorly he had been playing.
“I needed to feel like that,’’ Ginobili said of his bounce-back effort.
The Heat hasn’t figured out that leaving Danny Green wide open is bad. Green is the leader in the clubhouse to win the MVP award. He has an NBA Finals-record 25 three-pointers in this series to prove it.
“I can’t believe [Green is] still open at this moment of this series,’’ Spurs veteran Tony Parker said.
There’s a lot not to believe about the series.
Soon there might be a lot to forget. Starting with the Spurs.