The 2014 NBA Finals is unfolding just as Sean Elliott thought it would.
Well, sort of.
“Going into this series, the way we played against Portland and (Oklahoma City), I really thought we had a great chance to win this series in five,” the Spurs TV analyst said on The Morning Show. “I thought we’d win the first two at home, then split in Miami and come back (to San Antonio up) 3-1 (with) a chance to win it here in Game 5.”
“It’s (almost) panned out that way. I just didn’t think that Miami would beat us in Game 2 and that we’d collapse the way we did down the stretch in the last five minutes. Other than that, we’ve played pretty well.”
The Spurs have certainly left little doubt in their wins. Since surviving a seven-game series with Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs, San Antonio has won 10 games – by an average of 19.7 points. Virtually every win has been a blowout, the one exception being the series-clincher in the Western Conference Finals, when the Spurs beat the Thunder, 112-107, in overtime.
San Antonio has won four of its last five, the lone loss coming in Game 2 against Miami.
“Game 2 reminds me of the way we played the entire Dallas series,” Elliott said of the 98-96 loss. “There was a lot of individual basketball. There’s no way we can win playing (that) way. We (were) holding the ball too much. We (were) relying on (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili) for (almost) everything – and that’s not how we played all year long.”
“When I see these blowouts, it kind of reminds me of the way we played in the regular season when we continue to come at you in waves. The real key for our team – really the last two or three years – has been the reserve players.”
Especially Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, who combined for 44 points on 17-of-21 shooting (81 percent) in Game 3.
“When those guys get it going and the ball is moving side to side like we did in Game 1 and Game 3, we just absolutely shred (teams),” Elliott said. “When we do that, we’re really great.”
A win Thursday would give the Spurs the commanding 3-1 lead Elliott predicted they would have when the series began.
So much has been made of San Antonio’s meltdown against the Heat last year in Game 6. Ever since then, the Spurs have been on a mission – and now, that mission is two games from completion.
“They’re starving,” Elliott said. “They’re beyond hungry. They want to right the wrong that they felt they went through last year. They felt like they were the better team. They felt like (they) won that series but (that) they just didn’t pick up the rings at the end.”
“You got to give our guys a lot of credit,” Elliott continued. “Because as you know, to go that far from one year to the next and suffering that kind of disappointing loss, a lot of teams that weren’t or aren’t really tough enough wouldn’t be able to sustain the kind of effort our guys did this year. They would crack.”