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LeBron James on Spurs: ‘That’s how team basketball should be played’

LeBron-FinalsAfter the Miami Heat lost Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Chris Bosh said the San Antonio Spurs were the best basketball team he has ever played against. When a reporter asked LeBron James about Bosh’s assessment, he was quick to agree.

“I would agree,” LeBron said. “They were a much better team. That’s how team basketball should be played. It’s selfless. Guys move, cut, pass … if you’ve got a shot you take it, but it’s all for the team. It’s never about the individual. That’s the brand of basketball. That’s how team basketball should be played.”

Games 3, 4 and 5 were the exact same story almost from the opening tip to the final whistle. The Spurs put on a clinic in ball movement and got everyone involved. The Heat simply had no answers defensively. On offense, Miami relied solely on LeBron while guys like Dwyane Wade sat back and enjoyed the show.

LeBron played extremely well throughout the Finals. He averaged 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 57% from the floor. You could argue that James was the best player on the floor throughout the series, but it didn’t matter. The Spurs got significant contributions from almost everyone — not just their best player.

“Obviously I didn’t do enough,” LeBron said.

Despite the fact that LeBron pretty much had to do it alone, he said he was not disappointed in his teammates.

“(I’m) not disappointed in any of my teammates,” he said. “Just wish we could have come through.”

All LeBron has to do is watch that video compilation of Dwyane Wade’s lazy defense during the NBA Finals and his opinion will probably change. With the exception of James, the Heat just didn’t seem to want it. Once they realized how effective the Spurs were in moving the ball, it’s almost like they cashed it in mentally.

Spurs needed to lose last year in order to get revenge on Heat

Manu Ginobili Tim Duncan Tony Parker

**This post is sponsored by Chrysler**

Does any elixir taste sweeter than a dose of revenge? Probably not if you ask the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs finally got revenge on the Miami Heat a year after blowing Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Spurs were up 94-89 with 22 seconds left last year and lost. They could have gone up by 6 with 28 second left, but Manu Ginobili went 1-for-2 on free throws. They could have been up 96-92 with 19 seconds left, but Kawhi Leonard only made 1-of-2 free throws. Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer that tied the game instead of bringing the Heat to down one point. You know how the rest goes — Miami went on to win in overtime and then took Game 7 to clinch it.

Tony Parker called the way the Spurs lost last year’s game “cruel.”

San Antonio had its fifth NBA championship on its hands and let it slip away. They had to feel miserable for an entire summer and wait a full year before getting revenge, but they did it. And I firmly believe the way the Spurs lost last year — having their hearts ripped out — drove them to work harder than ever this season. They were much more motivated than they would have been under normal circumstances.

“What happened last year definitely helped us,” Tim Duncan said after Game 5 Sunday. “[The loss] helped our drive and (helped us) stay focused for an extended period of time. It very easily could have hit us in different ways and we could have reacted in different ways. But we reacted the right way. We got great leadership from the top in (Gregg Popovich), who came back absolutely fired up and ready to go. To push us this hard, this far and to come out with a championship is amazing.”

Ginobili, who in many ways was the goat of the Finals last year for San Antonio, said the Finals loss made them stronger. He said he felt guilty that he let his teammates down last season.

“Last year was a tough one for all of us,” Ginobili said after Game 5. “We felt like we had the trophy, that we were touching it, and it slipped away. It was a tough summer. We all felt guilty.

“We all felt that we let (our) teammates down. But we worked hard. Every game in the regular season we were trying to get better, to have the same opportunity again. We got to this spot, and we didn’t let it go.

“As you could see, every game we were up 15, 20, we kept it. No mistakes. Great mentality, and we kept playing until the last minute.”

Popovich called last year’s loss “devastating.”

“Last year’s loss was devastating,” said Popovich in his postgame presser. “I’ve said many times, a day didn’t go by where I didn’t think about Game 6. “So I think just in general, for the group to have the fortitude that they showed to get back to this spot, I think speaks volumes about how they’re constituted and what kind of fiber they have.”

Tony Parker, like Duncan, felt this year’s title was the sweetest for them to win because of what they had to endure to get there.

“It’s the sweetest one because it’s just unbelievable to win seven years ago and to be so close last year, it was very cruel,” said Parker. “It makes it even better the fact that we had to go through that and we had to go through a tough loss in Game 6 and Game 7, and to be able to come back. It just makes the journey even more worth it.”

It was a long, tough road for the Spurs, and I think we can attribute their machine-like focus and performance throughout the postseason to their determination to get revenge. Even before the Finals began, Duncan said he was happy to get the Heat because he wanted revenge.

You could just tell from the start of the Finals that the Spurs had that champion’s mentality. If they didn’t lose in such heartbreaking fashion last year, they would not have had the same determination and focus this year.

Manu Ginobili: Spurs made fun of me after Caron Butler blocked my dunk

What a difference a few weeks make.

Manu GinobiliSome of you may recall a play during Game 5 of the Western Conference finals two and a half weeks ago when Manu Ginobili was rejected hard by Caron Butler on a drive and dunk attempt late in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The missed bucket didn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things since the Spurs won 117-89, but it sure received a lot of attention in the Spurs’ locker room.

Fast forward to Sunday when Ginobili made one of the plays of the game in Game 5 by dunking hard on Chris Bosh in the second quarter as part of an 8-0 individual run. After the Spurs took the lead in that quarter, they didn’t relinquish it.

Manu says the dunk was redemption for what happened against Butler and OKC.

“The last time I tried (a dunk like that) I got blocked by Caron Butler against OKC badly,” Ginobili said about his dunk on Chris Bosh in Game 5, as transcribed by Eye on Basketball. “And I was made fun of by my teammates in a rough way. They actually made me promise that I wasn’t going to try that again, and I said I won’t try that again.”

If Ginobili promised he wouldn’t try a dunk like that again, what made him do it?

“But in the heat of the battle with the adrenaline pumping and the situation really, I don’t know what happened. I went hard and once I was in the air, I felt like I had a shot, and I tried. I think it helped me, and it helped the team too to get pumped up.”

Tony Parker also talked about the significance of the dunk.

“That was a big dunk,” said Parker after the game. “Manu was just in that mode.”

Man, can you imagine the things they were saying to Manu after he got rejected on that play? They must have ridden him hard for it! At least he didn’t listen to his teammates and went right to the hole like his instincts told him to. He still has it.

Manu Ginobili talks about evolution of Spurs’ offense

Manu GinobiliWhat’s so impressive about the San Antonio Spurs is how they’ve had such a prolonged period of excellence with the same core group of players.

The Spurs won their fifth NBA championship Sunday. Gregg Popovich has been the coach for all five, and Tim Duncan was one of the star players for all five. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili joined the team a few years later and have won four apiece.

Obviously the NBA has evolved over the past 15 years and the game has changed a lot. The Spurs went from being considered one of the most boring teams in the league to being by far one of the most enjoyable teams to watch. They have a fast-paced offense based on incredible ball movement.

“We’ve shifted the way we played so much in the last 10 years,” said Ginobili in response to a question from Grant Hill on NBA TV after the game. “When I got here, it was basically every single possession, put it in the post. Because it was what gave us the most.

“Then for a couple of years — I think ’05-’07 — it was mainly pick and roll from Tony (Parker) and for me. And from there we created and posted up (Tim Duncan). But in the last two, three years, it was about ball movement and trying to get everybody involved. The fact that we added pieces like Danny Green and Patty Mills to shoot the way they shot. Kawhi Leonard was just incredible this series. Last year, too.

“We had some pieces that made us shift because it’s what gave us the most. Attacking those seams and kicking it and making threes, it was fun to watch and fun to play in.”

Whereas many coaches sometimes become outdated in their methods, Gregg Popovich has not only evolved and kept up with the game, but he’s been at the forefront of a new offensive movement. After the show we saw the Spurs put on in the Finals, do you think

“It was an incredible, incredible playoff run.”

Five titles. Three decades. Enough said.

Spurs are the best team in the NBA and straight up showing it

Kawhi Leonard LeBron James

The San Antonio Spurs finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA, and they have shown throughout the playoffs — and especially in the NBA Finals — that they are the best team in the league.

San Antonio has shocked most fans, pundits and onlookers by not just winning two straight games in Miami, but by blowing out the Heat in Games 3 and 4 on the road. They’ve used a combination of precise execution, incredible ball movement, and relentless effort on both ends of the floor to blast the Heat. They are so good they’ve managed to make Miami look like an old, second-rate squad. And this is the defending champion Heat we’re talking about — a team full of All-Stars and the greatest player on the planet!

The way the Spurs are playing right now makes me think about putting them in the conversation for best championship teams I’ve seen. They went 62-20 during the regular season, which doesn’t stack up next to the ’96 Bulls, the 2000 Lakers, or the 2008 Celtics based on record, but it’s a pretty showing when you consider how deep and talented the Western Conference was. They absolutely annihilated a very good Portland team in the second round of the playoffs, and they overall handled the Thunder with ease in the Western Conference finals. A very good, underrated Mavericks team matched up with them well and took them to seven games, which is probably a testament more to how good Dallas was more than anything else.

What the Spurs have done has been remarkable to watch. I thought they were going to beat the Heat because they were the deeper team and playing better than anyone going into the Finals, but I never thought I’d see what we’re seeing. Call the Finals boring because the Spurs have made the games non-competitive, but I’ve enjoyed watching the clinic they’re putting on.

Watching the Spurs play is like watching a state champion varsity team take on a JV squad. They just run circles around their opponents. They whip the ball around on offense and constantly keep the flow moving. They always manage to find the open man. They penetrate when they have to. It’s like they’re running simple layup lines and executing as if nobody were guarding them. I said after Game 2 that the Spurs would have to practically not miss shots in order to win in Miami, and that’s what they’ve done. For the Finals, they’ve shot 54.2 percent, which is the second-highest percentage through four games all time (according to Elias Sports Bureau). They’ve just caught fire NBA Jam-style.

And then on the defensive end, man, does anyone not defend on that team? You don’t see laziness, you don’t see guys leaving their man, and you don’t see anyone left open. You see help defense where it’s needed and guys all up in the face of their opponents.

This series has really turned into so much about what the Spurs are doing right rather than what Miami is doing wrong. If you’re watching these games, you know Miami is simply overmatched and doesn’t have the overall depth and talent to compete with San Antonio.

LeBron James is playing very well this series. He really is. He won Game 2 for the Heat, he had them in Game 1 until he suffered his cramps, and he’s been the only guy showing up these last two games. It’s his teammates — especially Dwyane Wade, whose body looks toast — stinking up the joint. They’ve gotten nothing from Mario Chalmers or anyone at the point, they’ve gotten very little from the bench, and they need Chris Bosh to go off.

If you want to criticize anything about the Heat, you better leave LeBron out of it. If this were a baseball series, Miami would have been nearly shut out by San Antonio’s pitching the last two games. LeBron is the guy going 3-for-4 with a couple of doubles, while the rest of the team has taken the collar. He’s doing all he can do, but he’s just not getting enough help.

As strange as it sounds based on how much I’ve praised the Spurs, I actually think the Heat can turn it around in Game 5. I still think the Spurs will win the series, but don’t think it’s just going to end in five. Miami will put up a fight. They’ll make some adjustments, they’ll play more inspired, maybe Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard will get into some foul trouble early and late (wink-wink), and the Heat will have a chance in Game 5. But San Antonio will win the series and prove to everyone what an awesome team they are.

If you’re analyzing this series and season and view this as anything other than proof of how good the Spurs are, you’re really missing out on what’s going on.

Air conditioner broken in San Antonio impacts Game 1

Lance Stephenson AT&T Center

The air conditioning inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio stopped working early in the second quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, and it had an impact on the game.

Not only were fans constantly fanning themselves to keep cool, but players were tiring out quicker than they normally would.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh both asked out of the game five minutes into the third quarter, which is much earlier than usual. They could be seen holding ice bags on their necks to cool down while on the bench.

“I’m going to need some cold water now. They’re trying to smoke us out of here,” James was heard saying via ESPN Wired.

“It’s like playing in my old high school gym,” Miami forward Chris Bosh told ABC’s Doris Burke during an interview. “There’s no air movement.”

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst tweeted late in the third quarter that the temperature inside the building at the time was 89 degress. Yeah, that’s pretty hot.

The Spurs later explained that an electrical outage was responsible for the air conditioning problem and that they were working to fix the issue.

Photo via Andrew Luck’s Head

Referees allowed Spurs to have six men on the court (Video)

The Dallas Mavericks forced Game 7 by defeating the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. A No. 8 seed pushing a No. 1 seed to seven games is impressive enough without having to defend six men for a crucial play.

With 1.3 seconds left and Dallas leading 113-111, the Spurs inbounded a ball with five men on the court. Those five men did not include Boris Diaw, who was inbounding the ball. He was the sixth man. Somehow, the referees failed to notice.

Spurs-six-men

Monta Ellis was able to tip the full court heave away, leaving just 0.4 seconds on the clock. Kawhi Leonard scampered off to the bench after Ellis ran around yelling while holding six fingers up, and the Spurs were unable to get a shot off on their second inbound attempt. Fortunately for the officials and the NBA, the oversight did not prove to be costly.

Screenshot via Pro Basketball Talk