Four phases in the 2012-2013 NBA season stand out more than anything else for LeBron James leading the Miami Heat to a second consecutive championship, on the way adding more MVPs, accolades and legacy foundations for himself.
One is his remarkable ability during the month of February, as the Heat began their 27-game winning streak. James had six consecutive games of scoring at least 30 points while shooting over 60% from the field, and became the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in March 1983 to take more than 200 shots in a calendar month and make at least 64% of them. He averaged 29.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists while shooting 64.1% from the field during that stretch.
February and March were about the Heat finally breaking out in the East after struggling, mostly on their road games, during the first half of the season. Miami won 27 consecutive games from February 3 until they were stopped by the Chicago Bulls on March 27.
On the way, they beat every possible rival they might face during the Eastern playoffs, not to mention the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road and the Lakers at home, both in double digits, as the question about who the best team in the NBA had only one answer.
Phase 3 was the series against the Pacers. The Heat had no problem closing out the season, with James and without him, winning 8 consecutive games, posting the franchise’s greatest ever ever regular season at 66-16. The continued with an easy, 4-0 sweep over the Milwaukee Bucks, and despite losing to the Chicago Bulls on the opener of the conference semifinals, the Heat replied with four straight wins, entering their series with the Indiana Pacers winning 16 of their last 17 games.
There everything started becoming difficult. James hit a game-winning layup in game 1 (103-102), and the Heat had to claw their way through Roy Hibbert and a very physical, confident and determined Indiana team in a 7 game series, with the Heat winning the last three games in double digits, including a 23-point win in game 7, with James scoring 32 points.
Phase 4? The finals, obviously. The San Antonio Spurs won the opening game, and it was a chase from that point. Games 2-5 were all won by double digits, as the Spurs went back to Miami with a 3-2 lead. James started out badly in the first three games, averaging 16.7 points, but his finish was the stuff NBA legends are made of, as Miami won three of the last four games, including the last two at home.
First there was the Ray Allen shot, one of the greatest in NBA finals history, setting up overtime and a 3-3 tie. In game 7, James finally shrug off all criticisms, showing his ability to win a basketball game just by shooting mid-range jumpers and three pointers, finishing with 37 points and 12 rebounds, winning his second Finals MVP, and looking more exhausted, yet more relaxed and content than ever before.