Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals had the earmarks of a comeback game for the Heat. The reigning champions were down 3-1, back to the wall. We all knew LeBron wasn’t going to play dead and give the fight up, just like that.
Chris Bosh, brimming with quiet confidence, promised a victory in Game 5.
“We’re not going down, we’re going to win this game tonight,” Bosh said. “We’re going to come, prepare like we need to do. Plain and simple, we’re going to win this game.” – Heat’s Chris Bosh: ‘We’re going to win’ Game 5 vs. Spurs, The Point Forward
It was clear at this point that the Spurs had vastly outplayed the Heat, and strategic adjustments would have to be made. What exactly did Spoelstra have left in his coaching bag of tricks, a desperate ace in the hole that he could go to at dark hours like these? Going ultra small in an attempt to revive that trademark, frenzied Miami defense? Shedding their identity to pack the paint instead? Playing Beasley and hoping he would make a difference?
It seemed like a miracle was needed to belay that trophy from reaching the silver and black – a win in enemy territory, on the brink of elimination.
King James made it clear he wasn’t going anywhere. Resting only an incredible 14 seconds, he notched 17 points, six rebounds and an emphatic block on Patty Mills in transition.
Coupled with a sputtering San Antonio team, Miami led 29-22 after the first quarter.
What began as an inspiring performance by the cornered beast though, became an all-out massacre. The Spurs machine gathered momentum in the second quarter behind Manu doing Manu things, Kawhi’s brilliant defensive instincts. Things only got worse as Patty played out of his mind and torched the Heat repeatedly in the third quarter.
But of course, you knew it was quite over when this Splitter block happened.
In earlier times, the roles might have been reversed; Wade has always been a sly and opportunistic shot blocker.
And the rest, like they say, was history.
Two great storylines in the making, and one survived. The Spurs redeemed themselves from the agonising torment of last year’s Finals, rose from the proverbial ashes and became the NBA champions, triumphant and glorious. The painful loss only made this victory that much sweeter, and they all knew it.
The Heat on the other hand, lost their chance at a threepeat. Huge decisions are imminent, as the team is weighed down with questions right now. An aging veteran cast who seem to lack the agility needed to execute their stifling defense, the departure of savvy veteran Shane Battier for sportscasting pastures, and more importantly, the gaping chasm an aging Wade is creating in the team. New blood must be harnessed while LeBron reigns in Miami.
What lies ahead, is most definitely the unknown. It’s not about who the Cavs pick, or what Philly does with their ten thousand second round picks, or even whether Melo joins the Heat. For now, it’s time to soak in the aftermath of an exciting postseason, and the riveting basketball these teams have displayed. Thank you for all the great moments, and rest assured, NBA Nation will be back for more.