NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs beat Miami Heat to win fifth title
Kawhi Leonard wins Finals MVP after dominant Spurs win series 4-1
Monday 16 June 2014
The San Antonio Spurs won the fifth title in their history after beating the Miami Heat 104-87 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Although last year's Finals between these two sides was one of the best battles in recent years - Miami eventually winning an epic series 4-3 - the Spurs were utterly dominant this time, beating Miami by at least 15 points four times.
This marks the fifth time San Antonio have lifted the Larry O'Brien trophy since the organisation drafter future Hall of Fame power forward Tim Duncan with the No overall pick in 1997. Head coach Gregg Popovich has been in charge for all five of those wins, while the other two members of their 'Big Three', Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, won their fourth title last night.
But it was a new star on the Spurs team who won the Finals MVP. After poor performances in the opening two games of the series, Kawhi Leonard exploded to make this Finals his own.
In the three wins since Miami's solitary win of the series, Leonard has averaged 23 points and 9 rebounds, all while defending LeBron James, who remains the world's best player. Kawhi Leonard became the youngest Finals MVP since Magic Johnson in 1980
Aged just 22, Leonard, who scored 22 points, also becomes the youngest man to win Finals MVP since Magic Johnson did so at the same age in 1980.
The aforementioned James has again been brilliant for Miami, but has not found support from his team-mates like in he did in Miami's two title winning years.
James again played well in this defeat, scoring 31 points and adding 10 rebounds, but Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade could added 24 between them, from a combined 26 shots, while no other Heat player got into double figures as the Spurs dominated.
However, the Heat started brilliantly last night opening with a 22-6 run. Parker and sharpshooter Danny Green initially struggled before Ginobili entered from the bench to allow the Spurs to battle back in the first period.
The visiting Heat were still seven in front when the period ended, but they followed that up with their worst quarter in this year's play-offs, scoring just 11 points and giving up 25 to go in at the break down by seven.
The Spurs extended their lead in the third quarter, and the game was over by mid-way of the fourth. A disappointed LeBron James now has a decision to make about his future
"I'm not skilled enough to explain properly how we feel. Not only me, but I'm sure Tony (Parker) and Tim (Duncan) and Pop (Gregg Popovich) feel the same way," said Ginobili who had 19 points.
"Last year was a tough one for all of us. We felt like we had the trophy, that we were touching it, and it slipped away. We all felt guilty. We got to this spot, and we didn't let it go."
James now faces a decision over his future, with the option to stay at the Heat for one more year or hit the market. Since 'The Decision' that brought him to Miami, James and the Heat have made the Finals in all four years, winning two of those.
"We lost one (Finals), we won two and we lost another one. (We'll) take 50 percent in four years in championships any day. Obviously, we want to win all of them, but that's just the nature of the game.
"Not proud of the way we played (in this series)."
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