NBA Finals Game 4: Masterpiece Theatre
San Antonio 107, Miami 86
Spurs lead series 3-1
Game 3 of these NBA Finals will go down in the record books, but Game 4 was the Spurs’ masterpiece.
Simply put, it was the culmination of this team’s journey, their quest for basketball perfection and immortality. It was team basketball in its truest sense on both ends of the court.
To try and parse it down into simpler parts would be missing the point. One of my favorite quotes goes: ‘Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.’ Trying to write about last night’s game has the faint whiff of dancing about architecture (though there exists plenty of dancing in my celebratory watching of this Spurs team).
When people talk about this Spurs’ team, they often use phrases like “machine” and “precision” and “clockwork”. It gets the attributes of great triumphs of engineering and science. But that is only half the equation. The other half is passion, creativity, trust, synergy, a bunch of disparate pieces working together to create something that is more beautiful than any one piece. Passion plus precision is art. The line between beauty and science can be a thin one, and the Spurs walk freely on both sides. They are form and function.
In hindsight, it feels like Miami never had a chance. They look tired, flat, lethargic. They are carrying the burden of 4 years of miles, 4 years of Finals, 4 years of the weight of expectations no other team has faced. They seem to be running out of gas, and the Spurs feel like they are just revving up. They come in waves, and they have an answer for every Miami move.
And they have Kawhi. Holy hell, Kawhi Leonard. For two straight games, Kawhi has not only been the best Spur, he has been the absolute best player on the floor. On both ends of the court. By a rather wide margin. Kawhi Leonard is 22 years old. My oldest nephew is 19. With the Spurs’ front office, coaching, and roster management, there is no reason to believe that Leonard can’t be the next evolutionary step for this team, the torch bearer passed down from Robinson to Duncan, extending this team’s run of excellence another decade plus. The two best players in the league right now play his position and have perennial success being the focal point of team building. Kawhi can be that good, given the team and management.
Still, there is one win left to be had in this season. The Spurs, in practical terms, were this close last year. No Spurs’ fan should feel safe until that final buzzer sounds. There is no harder feat than winning the last game of the season. Miami is a proud team, and we should expect nothing less than fight to the end. But the Spurs are on a mission, one that started a year ago. They are unimpressed with what they have done. They will enter Game 5 looking to top their finest work. The true drive of both scientific and artistic genius is to keep moving, keep working, keep discovering, keep creating. We can admire the work for the rest of our lives, but the artist/scientist is only what he is because he refuses to be satisfied with his work and continues to look forward, knowing that he can always be better.
Game 5 is the Spurs’ next chance to be better. Perhaps they will end the night as the best; if only for a season, if only for a moment.
Go Spurs Go.
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