MIAMI — The San Antonio Spurs have three more chances to grab the championship trophy that slipped away last year. The way they’re dominating the Miami Heat, they might need just one.
Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and the Spurs routed the Heat again, winning 107-86 on Thursday night to open a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. The Spurs can win their fifth NBA championship with a victory at home in Game 5 on Sunday and avenge their seven-game loss to Miami last year. And if the Heat are going to deny them again, it will take the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history.
“I’m pleased that they performed as well as they did while we’ve been in Miami, and that’s about as far as it goes,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Now we’ve got to go back home and play as well or better.”
LeBron James tried to keep the Heat in it with 28 points and eight rebounds, but Dwyane Wade was just 1 of 10 through three quarters and finished with 10 points. No team has overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals, and the way they were outclassed twice on their home floor makes it hard to imagine the two-time champions being the first.
“This was probably the biggest surprise of the series,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Tony Parker added 19 points, and Tim Duncan had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who shot 57 percent from the field. The Spurs lost twice in Miami to end last year’s finals, their only defeat in the championship round.
They won their two games in South Florida this time by a combined 40 points. If this was the last home game of the season in Miami, it looked and sounded nothing like the ones to end the last two years, which featured confetti falling and trophies raised. This one had the unfamiliar sound of boos late in the first half and a chant of “Go Spurs Go!” with under 3 minutes left from the San Antonio fans who remained long after many of Miami’s had bolted.
If the Heat force a Game 6, it would be in Miami Tuesday.