SAN ANTONIO (CBSMiami) – The San Antonio Spurs had been thinking about the heartbreaking end to last season’s NBA Finals for a year but have finally exercised those demons. The Spurs dominated the Miami Heat for the third straight game, defeating Miami 104-87 to win their 5th NBA Championship.
It was more about redemption then it was about revenge for the Spurs, who never made it about getting back at the Heat. San Antonio believed that they were good enough to beat Miami and win the NBA Finals and after working all season to earn the right to try, that’s exactly what they did.
“We remember what happened last year and how it felt in that locker room,” Tim Duncan told ESPN’s Doris Burke on the court following the game. “We used it and built on it and got back here and it’s amazing.
“It makes last year OK.”
Kawhi Leonard’s spectacular Finals continued on Sunday. He led the Spurs with 22 points and 10 rebounds and was named Finals MVP.
It’s a well-deserved honor for the 22-year old who led the Spurs in scoring the last three games of the series while slowing down LeBron James for much of the Finals.
The Heat got off to their best start in any game of the Finals on Sunday. They scored the first eight points of the game and took a 22-6 lead with just over five minutes left in the opening quarter, holding the Spurs to a 1-12 start from the field.
Six different players scored for Miami during the first quarter but for the most part it was all LeBron. He scored his first 17 points on 5-6 shooting including a pair of triples and all five of his free throws.
For the first time in the NBA Finals Miami had the lead following the first quarter, jumping out to a 29-22 lead.
The second quarter saw the Spurs regain the dominant form they had on display during the last two games, outscoring the Heat 25-11 to take a 47-40 lead into the half.
Miami made just four of its fifteen shots in the second quarter. James followed up his 17 point first quarter with just three points on 1-5 shooting in the second.
While LeBron did what he could to keep the Heat in the game, without at least one other person to share the offensive load with Miami just couldn’t keep up.
Dwyane Wade finished a frustrating NBA Finals with another sub-par performance. He scored just 11 points on 4-12 shooting and never looked as though he could step up and contribute offensively.
“I struggled a little bit,” said Wade following the game. “As I told you guys, I’m never going to point at anything physically. I felt fine.”
Both teams struggled out of the gate after halftime as neither made a field goal until over four minutes had passed. The Spurs eventually got going and were outscoring Miami 9-2 in the quarter by the halfway point.
It only got worse for the Heat as Patty Mills got red hot after he emerged off the bench with 7:01 left in the quarter. He shot 5-5 in the period including all four of his shots from downtown, scoring 14 of his Finals-high 17 points.
“He’s a special guy,” Spurs coach Greg Popovich said of Mills. “His energy has been important to us all year long. He’s a real significant reason why we got to the Finals.”
Late in the third quarter Miami brought Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley into the game hoping the fresh blood would provide a spark. Miami’s offense would pick up but their defense continued to struggle, not allowing the Heat to make up any ground on the Spurs.
San Antonio outscored Miami 30-18 in the quarter, 55-29 over the two middle quarters, and took a comfortable 77-58 lead into the final twelve minutes.
“They played exquisite basketball, this series and in particular these last three games and they are the better team,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “There’s no other way to say it. They played great basketball and we couldn’t respond to it”
The Heat reduced the deficit to 14 points just over two minutes into the fourth quarter but that was as close as they would get. Tony Parker carried the load for San Antonio down the stretch, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the final period.
Parker started the game 0-10 from the field but hit his next seven shots to keep the Heat at bay during the later stages of the second half.
Miami started the game shooting 85.5-percent when jumping out to their 16-point first quarter lead but shot just 35.4-percent the rest of the way.