Miami’s 95-88 win over San Antonio in game seven ended one of the most memorable finals series in history. Each game had a talking point, all the games had a highlight and it was one of those series where someone had to lose. Unfortunately, it was the San Antonio Spurs, who will think back to game six when they had one hand on the NBA title until LeBron James and Ray Allen hit dagger three-pointers to take the game into overtime.
And a dagger is what has gone through the hearts of every Spurs player and coach right now. They will not be sleeping for a few days that you can bet on.
What can you say about the Heat though? Backs against the wall and they come out of it with cigars in their mouths and “CHAMPIONS” written on their caps. There is no denying that they earned this one, trailing 3-2 and looking like throwing in the towel, it was LeBron who took it upon himself to carry the Heat past the finish line in game six. Then in the winner take all showdown, James went into beast mode, he left it all out there on the court at both ends and led the Heat to this win.
James’ performance in this game will be spoken about for years to come. 37 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, it was a performance that is already being touted as “Michael Jordan-esque”, and left us all with no doubts that he is simply the best player in the world today. A man that can do it all, score, rebound, defend and can come up big in the fourth quarter. For those who doubted the last point, the last 30 seconds of this game proves you wrong – it doesn’t get any bigger than game seven – and that dagger jumper with 27 seconds left, just before Tim Duncan missed the baby hook ended it all. With that, the Heat showed the Spurs how to defend a two-basket cushion with 25 seconds left, with patient defence.
More so for LeBron, he vanquished some old demons from his Cleveland days. His first NBA Finals experience was one to forget as the Spurs, with Duncan, Parker and Ginobili sweeped a young and inexperienced Cavs side, led by James 4-0. An older, wiser, and more mature LeBron gained revenge.
While Dwyane Wade provided valuable support with 23 points and 10 rebounds, people are also talking about Shane Battier, and why not. 18 points and going 6/8 from three-point range, he has this habit of coming up big when the Heat need it, especially as Chris Bosh looked lost all night and Ray Allen was left scoreless, a stat that very rarely happens. Mario Chalmers, a player who lives for big games proved his worth with 14 points and hit some big shots down the stretch when it was needed.
The biggest factor though came through their defence. While Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili were paving the way, offensively. They suffocated Danny Green and Tony Parker, leaving them a combined 4/24 from the field, forcing them into tough shots and making Green, who loves to catch and shoot put the ball on the floor, where he struggled.
The Spurs will think back to game six and will replay the final 30 seconds in their minds constantly. Coach Gregg Popovich, noted as the best coach in the league for his clever tactics, made crucial errors in the final two games of this series, and both in the final minutes. He left Tim Duncan on the bench when the Spurs needed to go big to defend the three-point line that Miami would bombard them with, and did. This contest, he needed a point guard on the floor to call the play, he needed Parker on that floor, but instead he went big, and with Ginobili putting the ball on the floor, he drove baseline and kicked it out without looking. The result: the ball rested into the waiting hands of LeBron for the most important steal of his life.
Sure Parker hadn’t been playing well, but he was needed on that floor at that moment and Popovich did not use him. San Antonio fans must have been screaming at the television set at that moment.
Ginobili did the best he could, grabbing 18 points, but he looked tired and unable to run against the Heat’s transition game throughout. Maybe this was the last chance for the Spurs’ big three to claim another NBA crown. Parker has a good few years left in him but the question remains on the futures of two legends in Duncan and Ginobili. What will they do? Will they compete for another season? It’s a question that will be answered soon enough.
The best thing about this series though, after it ended was the respect gained from these finals that the two teams had for each other. All staying on court after the final buzzer went and congratulating each other before the Spurs went to the locker room, never to be seen since. It’s been a great season. The 2013/14 version have a tough act to follow already.