The 2007 San Antonio Spurs Build On Their Quiet Legend
The San Antonio Spurs had established themselves as the most consistent franchise in the NBA. They had won titles in 1999, 2003 and 2005 behind power forward Tim Duncan. The previous year the Spurs had the best record in the NBA, but lost a Game 7 heartbreaker at home to the Dallas Mavericks. The 2007 San Antonio Spurs came back for more, and got over the top for the franchise’s fourth title.
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Duncan had another vintage season, averaging 20 points/11 rebounds. Tony Parker, then 24-years-old, was running the show at the point and averaged 19 points/6 assists. Manu Ginobili kicked in 17 ppg and shot 40 percent from three-point range. With head coach Greg Popovich overseeing it all, the Spurs won 58 games and were the #3 seed in the West when the 2007 NBA playoffs began.
The Denver Nuggets were the opponent in the first round, with a talented 22-year-old scorer named Carmelo Anthony, along with Allan Iverson, no longer the MVP of his 2001 days, but still productive at age 31. Denver had another nice blend of youth and experience up front with Nene Hilario and Marcus Camby.
And that youth/experience blend came into San Antonio and pulled a Game 1 upset. Iverson went off for 31 points, Melo dropped 30 and the Nuggets outrebounded the Spurs 44-35, en route to a six-point win. The San Antonio defense came out much stronger in Game 2, forcing the two Denver stars into 17-for-46 shooting and the Spurs tied the series 97-88.
The three-ball delivered the Spurs road victories in Games 3 & 4. They hit nine in Game 3, five by Michael Finley and won 96-91. The Spurs drilled eight from behind the arc in the fourth game to put a chokehold on the series 96-89. They came home and locked down defensively, forcing Melo and Iverson into a 14-for-42 night. Finley scored 26 points and San Antonio pulled away in the fourth quarter to a 93-78 clinching win.
Then the Spurs, and the rest of the West got a big break. Dallas was the top seed, behind an MVP year from Dirk Nowitzki, but were shockingly ousted by the 8-seed Golden State Warriors.
Between this upset, and the fact the Western Conference was clearly the superior of the two sides of the NBA, it made San Antonio’s second-round battle with the 61-win Phoenix Suns feel like a series that would ultimately settle the championship. The Suns were the 2-seed and had a two-time MVP in Steve Nash running the show, along with Amar’e Stoudamire and Shawn Marion at the forwards.
Duncan came out to the desert and dominated in Game 1, with a 33/16 night. Parker scored 32 points, and Stoudemire shot poorly. The Spurs took homecourt advantage with a 111-106 win.
Phoenix came back strong for Game 2, with Stoudemire going for 27 points and Nash dishing 16 assists. Duncan kept his focus, with a 29/11 night, but the rest of the team played poorly. Phoenix won 101-81 and the series was tied.
Duncan continued to meet the big moment, with a dominating performance in Game 3. He scored 33 points and his 19 rebounds keyed a decisive rebounding edge for the Spurs, as they won 108-101. But again, the Suns responded. San Antonio led Game 4 by eight points going into the fourth quarter, but Phoenix played desperate, both on the boards and in rallying. They won 104-98 and this win put homecourt back in their hands.
But Phoenix’s win game at a heavy cost. A fight resulted in suspensions that went both ways, but it was the Suns who took the worst of it, losing Stoudamire for Game 5. Phoenix tried to rally behind their home crowd. They started the fifth game strong and led by six going into the fourth quarter. But Ginobili came off the bench to score 26 points, Duncan finished with 21/12 and the Spurs survived 88-85.
It’s not too much to say that the suspension might have decided the 2007 NBA championship. San Antonio had homecourt back, and they made it stand up in Game 6. Stoudamire played possessed, with 38 points, but the Big Three of the Spurs were all ready.
Duncan had 24/13, Parker had 30 and Ginobili topped them all, with 33 points and 11 rebounds. The 114-106 win clinched the series and San Antonio would never be challenged like this again.
Utah was a nice team in the conference finals, but they were there because the Dallas upset had gutted the top half of the bracket. The Jazz had Deron Williams at the point and Carlos Boozer down low, but not nearly enough to stop San Antonio.
The Spurs’ Big Three combined for 71 points and the team shot 54 percent in a 108-100 win to start the series. Another strong shooting night and a big second quarter overcame strong nights from Williams and Boozer in a 105-96 win that ensured the Spurs would hold serve at home.
San Antonio seemed to take Game 3 off, going soft defensively, as Utah shot 53 percent and coasted to a 109-83 win. The Spurs all but won the series in the fourth quarter of Game 4. They turned a tight game into a 91-79 win, thanks to an 11-rebound game by Argentinian import Fabricio Oberto, and 22 points from Ginobili.
The 2007 NBA Finals saw the arrival of LeBron James on the national stage, as the then 22-year-old had led the Cleveland Cavaliers to an upset victory over the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron was still too young though, and his outside shot still unpolished. His supporting cast was woefully inadequate, and San Antonio had too many weapons.
Parker torched the Cavs backcourt in Game 1 at home, scoring 27 points and setting the tone for the series. Duncan kicked in a 24/13 night, while LeBron shot 4-for-16. The Spurs won 85-76. Parker came right back in Game 2 and shot 13-for-20 while dropping 30 points. Duncan and Ginobili combined for 48, the Spurs were up 25 at the half and won 103-92.
The series went back to Cleveland and this time two different San Antonio perimeter players took their turns having fun. Brent Barry hit three treys, Bruce Bowen hit four more, and the Cavs struggled behind the arc, shooting 3-for-19. It was the difference in a close, but ugly, 75-72 win for San Antonio.
LeBron let it fly in Game 4, taking thirty shots from the floor. But he only made ten, and no one could stop Parker. The Spurs’ guard hit 10-for-14 and scored 24 points. The game went to the wire and San Antonio’s 83-82 win closed out a sweep and another championship.
Parker was the 2007 NBA Finals MVP, and the Spurs had added to their legend as the quiet dynasty, winning a fourth NBA title in nine years.