Only one year has passed, and the moment feels like a Déjà vu. LeBron James proving all those who spoke about his big-game and late-game abilities wrong, putting on an incredible performance to cement his place among the NBA’s greatest players in history, while leading the Miami Heat to their second consecutive NBA title, making it look like the beginning of a dynasty.
The San Antonio Spurs, on the other hand, looked broken. Maybe it’ll pass in a few days, but it’s more than likely, despite their past success, that Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Pakrer will each feel haunted by their mistakes in game 7 for a very long time.
The Silence Before the Storm
There’s something special about national anthem introductions to games. They always seem like the final moment a player has to be alone, with his own thoughts, that tend to get a lot more interesting when there’s more on the line. Whatever the Miami Heat’s players were telling themselves before game 7, it worked.
Erasing Chris Bosh
The San Antonio Spurs couldn’t have asked for a better game than what Tim Duncan gave them in six and seven. He completely dominated Chris Bosh on both ends of the floor, ending up with 24 points and 12 rebounds in game 7, while Chris Bosh didn’t score a single point throughout the game, probably feeling a huge load coming off his chest when he saw his terrible performance didn’t hurt his team’s title hunt.
Redemption for Heat Fans?
Say what you will about Miami Heat fans, but they did their job in game 7. It might have made a White Stripes song impossible to listen to in the future, but if it played a small part in the Heat winning their second consecutive NBA title, they deserve some credit.
The Importance of the Bird-man
Chris Andersen finished with only 3 points and 4 rebounds, but energy, hustle and defense are hard to measure and show in the box score. For a second straight game, Miami played better with Andersen on the floor, who made life very difficult for Tim Duncan and anyone else he was guarding, being the first to spread on the floor the moment a ball was live and up for grabs. Guys who get 10-day contracts in January rarely end up being meaningful parts of championship teams.
Not Manu’s Night Again
Numbers lie, because they say Ginobili finished with 18 points and 5 assists, but his mistakes, with three turnovers in the fourth quarter, couldn’t have come at a worse time, as Gregg Popovich had no choice but to continue and play him while Tony Parker was too fatigued to contribute. Ginobili admitted game 6 was still in his head, and maybe influenced his decision making in the clutch in game 7 as well.
Right Here, Right Now
This is his era, no matter what people say. LeBron James took what the Spurs gave him, continuing his fantastic fourth quarter from game 6 with a 37 points, 12 rebounds performance, hitting big jumper after big jumper over Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan, not to mention hitting five three-pointers and going 8-of-8 from the line. Clutch, MVP, Champion, everything at once, and no longer any shred of doubt.
Super Nintendo Chalmers
How big was Mario Chalmers’ three pointer, beating the buzzer at the end of the third quarter? Huge. From 69-71 entering the fourth quarter, the Heat had a one point lead going in after a wild three from a player who finished with only 1-of-7 from beyond the arc, but did score 14 points, and his movement between amazing to abysmal happens in seconds, but turned out to be a positive factor once again in a big game.
Where Did He Come From?
Shane Battier opened his postgame press conference with The reports of my demise were premature… Battier was pretty much marked off the rotation for a big part of the conference final and the NBA finals themselves, but suddenly came back to life and confidence in game 6. He was even bigger (a Mike Miller moment as someone called it) in game 7, hitting six three pointers, providing the outside help each time LeBron James felt it got a little bit crowded in the paint.
No Points, But a Special Moment Nonetheless
Dwyane Wade didn’t care Tim Duncan was waiting in the paint. He forgot about his knees and went up for the dunk, and got blocked. LeBron James picked up the offensive rebound and got fouled, sinking another two points. Dwyane Wade finished with 23 points, most of them on mid range jumpers that were given to him all night. The Heat’s offense finally realized the way to play, what to take and what to pass on in game 7, but Wade, with his attitude and intensity on both ends of the floor, led them forward just as much as James’ three point shooting.
Everything went against Chris Bosh in game 7, including the officials calls, pinning at least two fouls on him that weren’t there. This reaction came after helping Tim Duncan cut the lead down to three with an and-1 basket, which had no actual contact from Bosh on the way, but didn’t stop the referees from calling the foul.
Tim Duncan at His Lowest
With the Miami Heat leading 90-88, Duncan made a move into the paint with Shane Battier guarding him, shooting a little half hook that he usually sinks. He missed, and Battier managed to deny Duncan the offensive rebound. This led to LeBron James hitting the biggest shot of his career, and the Spurs to finally realize it was over. Duncan was the best of the Spurs’ players during the game, but took the lost the hardest, blaming himself for the missed opportunity.
King of Miami
Wouldn’t you know it, but Dwyane Wade is now a three-time NBA champion, just like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and one of the two players remaining from the team’s first NBA title in 2006. If his legacy and place among the game’s greatest needed something more for approval, a third title ring helps.
We couldn’t have done it without your help. Ginobili isn’t the Mr. Nice Guy some Spurs players seem like, and there was some bad blood and tension between him and James/Wade during the series, which Wade referred to after the game.
The Architect & The Video Analyst
Erik Spoelstra is no longer the head coach who is riding the coattails of supreme players. Pat Riley knew what he was doing when he made him the Heat’s head coach, keeping him around after losing in the 2011 NBA Finals, getting two title rings as a payment for his faith.
The Happiest Day of His Life
We’ve seen this before – LeBron James holding an NBA trophy with a finals MVP as well, completing an amazing, exhausting two year run, winning two titles, two MVPs, two regular season MVPs, not to mention the gold medal in the London Olympics. Hard to say anything against him now, even if the hate inside you for the man burns white hot.