On the 177th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo, another battle raged in the heart of San Antonio. In a city where shouts of “Remember the Alamo!” echo across the cobblestone compound of the Spanish mission, mostly by tourists and school children, a different mantra echoes in the not-so-distant memories of merely a summer ago: Remember the Finals.
In a matchup filled with bad blood and irony on this anniversary of the victory of the Mexican Army over the Texans, El Heat came to San Antonio for the first time since the 2013 Finals to take on Los Spurs.
After being mere seconds away from a fifth championship in the franchise’s history and having been trounced in Miami earlier in the season, the Spurs looked to finally fulfill some of the lost poetic justice in this underdog story gone wrong, and boy did they not disappoint.
San Antonio started fast and never looked back. The fluidity of “The System” and the intensity of the defense play was enough to carve out a 15 point lead after the first quarter. Coach Popovich’s game plan of pounding the rock and running on both misses and makes by Miami allowed San Antonio to grab control of the game and never give it up.
Miami showed some fight throughout the game, pushing and pulling their way back within 8 points by the end of the third, but a fourth quarter at home in front of an electric crowd overflowing with 9 months worth of revenge belonged only to the Spurs.
After going into the fourth with only an 8 point lead and waning momentum, the Spurs fired back out of the gate, leaving any notion of a comeback in the dust. San Antonio increased their lead by 16, ultimately winning by 24, while holding Miami to a season low 13 fourth quarter points.
Though this was a win worthy of credit being given to the entire team, Kawhi Leonard stepped back into the spotlight to prove that he is the one true LeBron-stopper.
Leonard’s increase in offensive production and efficiency fizzled Thursday night with LeBron guarding him, but it was on the defensive end where he shined. After putting up 61 points a week ago, the newly-masked James struggled mightily against the length and annoyance that Leonard brings on the defensive end. LeBron ended with 19 points on an unprecedented 6 for 18 shooting for the usually uber-efficient MVP.
James, though “not making any excuses,” blamed the debut Latin Night sleeved jerseys for his difficult shooting night, but we all know it was Kawhi that troubled the King the most. James ended with 5 turnovers on the night, the majority of which came at the monstrous hands of Kawhi Leonard.
Everything is coming together for the Spurs. Cylinders are firing, buttons are clicking, but most of all, the Spurs are peaking.
The Spurs now boast a 5-game winning streak and are only a half game for the top spot in the West. But most important of all, the Spurs finally have their revenge.