Role players are a key to San Antonio’s success
Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw have been exactly what San Antonio needed in its NBA Finals matchup against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, and might be the two biggest reasons the Spurs are one victory from their fifth league title.
The Associated Press
NBA Finals, Game 5, Miami @ San Antonio, 5 p.m., Ch. 4
SAN ANTONIO – Guard Tony Parker remains thankful for the role players who helped carry San Antonio to its last NBA title in 2007.
There was Robert Horry, Michael Finley and Fabricio Oberto. The Spurs had a “Big 3” then, the same one they have this year — Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
But three is seldom enough, and that has been shown again in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw have been exactly what San Antonio needed in this matchup against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, and might be the two biggest reasons the Spurs are one victory from their fifth league title. The Spurs lead these Finals 3-1 and will look to end Miami’s reign in Game 5 on Sunday in San Antonio.
“If you want to win championships, obviously you need a ‘Big 3,’ ” Parker said. “But you need your role players to play great, too.”
That is what the Spurs are getting in the Finals.
Parker is leading the team in scoring, Duncan is leading in rebounding and San Antonio is outscoring Miami by 62 points with Ginobili on the court — so the “Big 3” is doing its part.
But when the Spurs took control of the series by winning Games 3 and 4 in Miami, Leonard led the charge by averaging 24.5 points on 68 percent shooting. Diaw has a Finals-leading 23 assists.
The makeup of a player who best fits into coach Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio system has remained unchanged for the better part of two decades. He values team play over any individual accolade. He never says too much, particularly about himself. He stays in the moment, avoiding the urge to look ahead or behind.
Leonard and Diaw meet all those characteristics.
“San Antonio is playing great,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They’re moving the basketball. They’re exploiting where we’re normally good, so we have to do a better job.”