Spurs dominate Heat again, one win away from NBA championship
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter June 12, 2014 10:40PM
Updated: June 13, 2014 12:25AM
MIAMI — Thank goodness for beaches, palm trees and bikinis. Otherwise, LeBron James easily could have been fooled into believing that he was back in Cleveland, playing for the Cavs on Thursday.
Ah, yes, the Cleveland days, when James had to strap four other players wearing the same jersey onto his back and attempt to will them to a title.
The Spurs stopped James from doing so back in 2007, and after a 107-86 win in Game 4, they’re up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series as they try to prevent James’ Heat from three-peating.
“I’m pleased that they’ve performed as well as they did while we were in Miami, but that’s as far as it goes,’’ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Game 5 is Sunday, so that’s two full days off of James undoubtedly being singled out for Miami’s failures, despite the four-time MVP finishing with 28 of the Heat’s 86 points and a team-high eight rebounds while getting very little help along the way.
Like Game 3, the Spurs wrote a how-to novel on every aspect of the game, from their surgical passing, to their defense, to their ability to demoralize two of Miami’s Big Three in every way possible.
“They played great, and I can honestly say that I don’t think any of us expected this type of performance,’’ Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They moved the ball great. We just have to figure it out. We’ve got 48 hours and I’ve got to do a better job for my team. This was probably the biggest surprise of the series.’’
He better come up with something quickly.
San Antonio outscored Miami 26-17 in that first quarter and kept their foot on their throats throughout.
At one point in the second half, James had 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting, while the rest of his team had a total of 29. That included a 1-for-10 start from Dwyane Wade, who eventually finished with 10 points and continued to come up very short under the spotlight.
And the Spurs? It was the usual suspects, led by emerging star forward Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
The small light at the end of the tunnel for Miami?
What started as whispers at the All-Star Game has now grown some legs, with ESPN reporting on Wednesday that Miami is considering the possibility of adding Carmelo Anthony.
James, Wade and Chris Bosh can each opt out of their deals, while Anthony can do the same in New York. So it comes down to simple unselfish economics.
Or basically the worst possible nightmare for Bulls general manager Gar Forman.
The easiest way for the Heat to split the pie and still be able to add depth would be for all four players to sign for $12 million for the 2014-15 season and agree to raises of about $500,000 for the following three years.
But that’s also asking each player to walk away from about $60 million on the open market for the price of a dynasty on South Beach.
First things first, and that means the Heat facing the reality that no team in Finals history has come back from 3-1.
“All we can do is worry about Game 5, Sunday first,’’ James said. “I do know the numbers, it’s never been done before, but we still feel we’re a confident bunch.’’