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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Spurs Defeat Heat

The Spurs again dismantled the Heat, overwhelming them in a 104-87 victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to secure the franchise’s fifth championship. From Tim Duncan to Manu Ginobili to Tony Parker, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich subbed out his stars one by one so they could each get their own applause.

Playing crisp, beautiful team basketball that has defined the franchise, the Spurs clinched the title with contributions from all corners of their roster. Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich has described as the future of the franchise, continued his strong play over the final three games of the series by totaling 22 points and 10 points. Ginobili scored 19 points. Parker had 16, all in the fourth quarter. Backup point guard Patty Mills scored 17.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra made some changes to his lineup by starting veteran shooting guard Ray Allen over struggling point guard Mario Chalmers and activating forward Michael Beasley. The moves appeared to immediately pay off: With James running the point guard position, the Heat scored the game’s first eight points. The Spurs didn’t score until Duncan made two free throws with 8:21 remaining in the first quarter and the Heat surged to a 16-point lead.

James scored 17 points in the first quarter, but even then it was a sign he wasn’t getting enough help. The Spurs cut the lead to seven by the end of the quarter surged in front in the second quarter, mainly thanks to Leonard and Ginobili. Ginobili brought the crowd to its feet with a vicious dunk over Chris Bosh then followed with a step-back 3-pointer.

The Spurs then left it to backup point guard Patty Mills to take over the game in the third quarter. Mills made four 3-pointers in the quarter. During one stretch, he and Ginobili combined for three consecutive 3-pointers to hike the lead to 21 and put the Spurs in position for their fifth title.