COMMENTARY| As someone that has been a supporter of the San Antonio Spurs since the 1990’s, you could probably imagine the disappointment felt when the Spurs lost to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals. The reality of having to see the Spurs lose for the first time out of their five trips to the NBA Finals was a reality that took months for me to accept. In a way, it was the equivalent of someone seeing one of their favorite comic book heroes get defeated for the first time.
Since the defeat, time has moved on and the San Antonio Spurs organization obviously have moved forward as well. After finishing the season with an NBA best 62-20 record in the regular season, the Spurs found themselves tested in two hard fought playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder. Following victories in both series, the Spurs now find themselves in position to claim a fifth NBA title. More importantly, the chance of winning a fifth title will come against the team that narrowly dashed the Spurs 2013 championship hopes, the Miami Heat.
There’s a clear reason why the Spurs organization along with their fans would have a sour taste leftover from last season. In last year’s NBA Finals series, the San Antonio Spurs appeared to all but have the series won. In game six in Miami, the Spurs were up 94-88 with only 28 seconds left in the game. A good portion of dejected Heat fans left the arena, and the trophy presentation was all but a done deal. However, several missed free throws along poor rebounding from the Spurs in the game’s last seconds, gave the Heat a chance to extend the series to a seventh game. Ultimately, a clutch three pointer by Miami shooting guard Ray Allen sent the game into overtime, which the Heat would win. Game six would and be the catalyst for Miami to claim their second straight NBA title in game seven.
Nearly a year has passed, and we now find ourselves on the cusp of game one of the 2014 NBA Finals. Looking a things now, it appears as if fate has given the Spurs another shot at redemption. Following the Spurs series ending victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, Spurs veteran power forward Tim Duncan stated; “We’re happy it’s the Heat.” I feel that Duncan and the rest of the Spurs organization understand that this may be their final shot at winning a title with the current players they have, and they seem poised to do just that.
Although the Spurs maintain much of their core roster from last season, several of their role players were playing in their first ever NBA Finals in 2013. Many of those players have developed even more since last season. Backup point guard Patty Mills rarely played in the finals last season, but should play a key role in this upcoming NBA Finals. Mills has been great the entire season, and he has shown that he can provide an instant spark offensively off the bench. Forwards Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard have also been great during the playoffs. Both have always been great defenders, but they have both improved offensively as well during the playoffs. Leonard was recently selected to the 2nd All-NBA Defensive Team.
Although I have confidence that the Spurs will get it done this time around, the Miami Heat are the two-time defending champions for a reason. The Heat are seeking their third straight title, which hasn’t been done since the Los Angeles Lakers done it in 2000-2002. However, the fan in me believes that the Spurs will not squander this second chance that they’ve earned. This is a much more improved team from last season, and they have all the tools to redeem themselves from last year’s disappointment.