Gregg Popovich: Heat got overconfident in NBA Finals

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In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, an air-conditioning failure – not the Spurs – beat LeBron James and the Heat.

That perception gained traction when LeBron dominated Miami’s Game 2 win.

Unfortunately, the Heat might have bought into that storyline a little too much themselves.

At least that’s what Gregg Popovich, whose Spurs won three straight to win the series in five, believes.

Popovich, via Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News:

“When they won Game 2,” he said, “they probably didn’t handle that win real well. They were probably thinking that we got lucky in Game 1, with the air conditioning issue, and they thought they were just going to do it again. As two-time defending champs, it was natural. This had become their place in the world.”

In context, Popovich’s observation does not come across as malicious. He’s describing the mental challenge of attempting to repeat, something he knows well. His Spurs have won five titles, none of them back-to-back.

Last season, according to Harvey, the Spurs hung a picture of their Game 6 loss to the Heat in the 2013 Finals in the their practice facility. That made motivation for 2014 easier.

This year, there’s no easy way to summon that type of passion. The Spurs are content, happy – just as the two-time defending champion Heat were in June.

There’s no clear antidote to this human problem, and San Antonio has its work cut out for itself. But the fact that Popovich is aware of the issue and already trying to combat it provides hope the Spurs will become as motivates as possible.