LeBron James spent most of the night sitting with fans, Ray Allen didn’t re-enact his famous shot and the Larry O’Brien Trophy was nowhere to be found.
It was an NBA Finals rematch in name only, though once again, it was the Miami Heat coming out on top.
Dwyane Wade scored 25 points in 26 minutes, James Jones added 18 and the Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs, 121-96, in a preseason game Saturday night.
Wade made 10 of 14 shots, plus added seven assists and four rebounds for the Heat, who were without reigning league MVP James and Ray Allen for the matchup of last season’s NBA finalists.
”I don’t know how I look,” Wade said. ”I’m getting better every day. But I’m not where I want to be. When the season starts I won’t be where I want to be. But as the season goes on, I’ll get stronger and stronger and better.”
Chris Bosh finished with 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting for Miami. Bosh is shooting 61 percent in the preseason, averaging 17 points in six games.
Kawhi Leonard scored 17 for the Spurs, while Marco Belinelli added 15 and Manu Ginobili scored 13.
Michael Beasley scored 12 and Norris Cole added 10 for Miami, which led by as many as 32 and never trailed.
”Both teams are trying to prepare for the regular season,” Wade said. ”I’m sure it wasn’t a joy for them to come back to Miami in the preseason.”
The Heat were without James, who decided to rest, and Allen – whose 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 6 of the title series saved Miami and essentially ripped the trophy from San Antonio’s grasp. The Spurs hardly went with what could be called a regular-season rotation: Tony Parker logged no points, rebounds or assists in 18 minutes, and Tim Duncan scored nine points in 21 minutes.
”Haven’t thought about it at all,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich deadpanned, when asked if being back in Miami churned up painful memories. ”Are you serious? I think about it every day.”
That can’t be surprising.
Popovich confessed he recently dreamt of James and his MVP-level play during that seven-game series, and that it doesn’t take much for his thoughts to drift back to Allen’s 3-pointer or the missed opportunities – free throws that bounced off the rim, rebounds that weren’t corralled – that probably would have wrapped up a fifth title for the Spurs.
For 13 hours last month, Popovich relived all the pain of the last two finals games as part of his preparations for this season.
”We have a practice, we’ve done it every year I’ve been there, we take the coaches on a retreat in September and we watch film for four days,” Popovich said. ”And we begin with whatever team we ended with the year before, whether the first round or the finals or you won or you lost or whatever, and we go through that tape. So we took seven hours and went through Game 6, we took six hours and went through Game 7.”
At least this time, James did nothing that would keep Popovich up at night. He was in warmups and sitting on the baseline near the Heat bench, fans on either side of him.
But James does understand where Popovich is coming from. He long lamented what happened in his first finals experience against San Antonio – the one in 2007 when the Spurs swept Cleveland.
And that outcome wasn’t the down-to-the-wire, excruciating-type of loss the Spurs had to deal with.
”I’m right with him,” James said, when told of Popovich’s regular reflection upon last season’s series. ”I think about it a lot, man. One play here, one second there, it changes the whole format of the games. I think about it almost every day, too.”
The Heat played again without Rashard Lewis, who remains away from the team while tending to a personal matter. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team expects Lewis back in the coming days.