Led by a no-frills coach, the San Antonio Spurs have long stated the regular season means little to them.
Yet even normally stoic San Antonio couldn’t hide its emotion on the court, and the satisfaction afterward, of toppling the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
Tim Duncan had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and the Spurs never trailed against the Heat, weathering a sluggish third quarter for an intense 111-87 victory Thursday.
“I’m sure this has some special meaning, to say something different would be silly,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said, “but we expect them to come out hard and play.”
In their first home game against Miami since losing a heart-wrenching, seven-game NBA Finals, the Spurs handed the Heat their worst loss of the season.
The rematch brought out a raucous sold-out crowd and sparked high emotions from both teams. Players dived recklessly for loose balls and yelled at officials, while Popovich often screamed at his own players.
“We needed a game like this,” Manu Ginobili said. “We’ve been talking (about it) all season long. Our record was probably 1-10, 1-8 or something like that against the top four teams in the league. So we needed a big one, and today we played well. It’s one of those wins that really gets you going.” Associated Press
The Spurs were putting the smackdown on the Heat last night, but box score doesn’t show any huge stat differentials. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did not play well enough to keep them close and it got out of hand. Chris Bosh was the difference maker in the first half by shooting six of seven from the field.
Props must be given to the Spurs who made it look really simple. Every year, it feels weird to say that Duncan and the boys will be back for another strong playoff run, but they make it happen somehow, someway. It reminds me of a nondescript guy walking to a poker table without showing any emotion except for a smug grin when he walks away with all of the winnings, and no one even recalls how it happened. The West is more treacherous this season but I’m not counting them out again. – AL
Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.