The San Antonio Spurs are NBA champions once more.
For the fifth time in franchise history, the Spurs hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy Sunday night. San Antonio overcame a horrendous start to defeat the Miami Heat, 104-87, in game five of the NBA Finals.
After struggling in the first two games of the series, Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard turned things around and played phenomenally the rest of the series. Leonard sealed the series with 22 points and nine rebounds in the series-clinching game, earning the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
“Right now it’s surreal to me,” Leonard said. “They all pushed me. The fans pushed me, Coach Pop pushed me, the fans pushed me.”
After losing to the Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals, the Spurs used the heartbreaking series to fuel them throughout the season. San Antonio won 62 games in the regular season and captured the top seed in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the Finals.
But the playoff road wasn’t easy. The Dallas Mavericks took the Spurs to seven games in the first round but San Antonio prevailed. The young Portland
Trailblazers didn’t give San Antonio much of a challenge as the Spurs were able to win that series in five games.
The final team standing in the way of a return trip to the finals was the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team which kept San Antonio out of the finals in 2012. The two teams battled, trading blowout victories in the first five contests.
But Game 6 proved to be the ultimate challenge. The Thunder took San Antonio into overtime, but the Spurs emerged victorious yet again.
In the finals, the Spurs got revenge in five games. San Antonio blew out the Heat in three of its five victories and won the series in San Antonio.
The Spurs will raise their fifth NBA championship banner when the 2014-2015 season begins in October.