In a game that looked more like a 12-round heavyweight fight than a regular season meeting, the San Antonio Spurs were able to bully the Miami Heat in a 111-87 blowout. There was no love lost and no shortage of intensity in the grudge match. And now San Antonio can copyright their “How to stop Lebron James” instructional video after their domination of the superstar.
Kawhi Leonard had the daunting task of guarding the man who had just scored 61 points a few games ago. Unfortunately for the Heat and coincidentally for the Spurs, James was not able to duplicate his super human feats but instead produced a measly 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Now let’s be honest, no one man can guard Lebron but what Leonard did was something most have had trouble with and that is to alter his attack. Leonard used his athleticism and length to discourage James from penetrating the paint and thus forcing him to shoot uncomfortable jumpers. Despite the vast improvement of his jump shot, James still does not encompass the confidence of a shooter and his 6-of-18 shooting is concrete evidence.
The Spurs’ collective defensive effort was the biggest difference from tonight’s game and their previous loss to the defending champions. Turnovers, specifically 21 of them, did not leave the Heat with much room to work with. But it was in the fourth quarter that San Antonio completely took the Heat out of the game physically and mentally. The scrappy play by Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili induced frustration on Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers, both being issued technicals.
Great defense lead to easy offense and even less resistance from the “Heatles.” Tim Duncan was on the receiving end of this deal, racking up 21 points and 11 rebounds. There were some offensive lapses in the third quarter, where the Spurs were only able to put together 20 points in the frame. They would bounce back and Tony Parker was able to weave his way in and out of the defense to finish with 17 points.