SAN ANTONIO — One day the San Antonio Spurs will finally receive the credit they so richly deserve. The Spurs’ big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have won 457 games together — fifth best all-time as a trio. Sixteen consecutive years the Spurs have had a winning road record, the best in league history. Fourteen consecutive years the Spurs have won 50 or more games.
Since 1997-98 they have had the best record in major professional sports: 888-376. (The NFL Patriots are second with 183-81. In basketball, the LA Lakers are second best with 822-442).
They have also won four NBA titles without a loss in the Finals. Only the Chicago Bulls are better at 6-0. The Spurs took a giant step towards getting closer to Chicago by beating Miami 114-104 in game five Sunday to take a 3-2 lead in the 2013 NBA Finals.
Manu Ginobili, getting his first start of the season, scored 24 points and had 10 assists, Tony Parker added 26 to lead all scorers, and Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds. The great trio combined to score 67 points. Danny Green scored 24 points also and set a new NBA Finals record with 25 made three-point shots.
The Spurs shot 60 percent from the field, making 42 of 70 shots to regain the lead in this hotly contested series. The winner of game five in the NBA Finals when the series was 2-2, since the Finals went to a 2-3-2 road-home format, have won seven of 10 NBA Championships. Miami was in this position two years ago, down 3-2 to Dallas, and lost game six.
The Spurs are the best in the NBA since 2002-03 when leading a series and facing a closeout game. The Spurs have won 14 of 16, a win percentage of 87.5. The rest of the NBA is just 61 of 75. Miami’s talented big three of James, Wade and Bosh combined for 66 points. The Spurs found a way to shut down everyone else.
Since San Antonio won game one in Miami 92-88, the Spurs and Heat have taken turns blowing the other team out in the next game: game two, Heat 103-84; game three, Spurs by 36, 113-77; game four, Heat 109-93; and Sunday, game five, Spurs 114-104.
The Spurs threw a couple of new wrinkles at the Heat in game five, like starting Ginobili, having him on the floor with Duncan and Parker. The Heat had no answer for it. And Spurs coach Gregg Popovich put the bigger Boris Diaw on LeBron James at times, and he held James to 1-8 shooting. The Spurs have pushed the tempo against the Heat.
The last time a defending champion lost in the NBA Finals was in 2005 when the Spurs beat Detroit. Will it happen again? James is now 2-7 vs. the Spurs in the NBA Finals with Cleveland and Miami. The Heat are trying to win back-to-back championships; the Spurs are after number five. Stay tuned — game six is next.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.