With a banged up Dwyane Wade and a non-existent Chris Bosh, LeBron James pulled off a historic performance in a game 7 of the NBA Finals, erasing all the Clutch and other ridiculous claims about his ability when it matters the most, leading the Miami Heat to a second consecutive NBA championship, on the way winning his second Finals MVP.
The San Antonio Spurs pushed the Heat to the limit, but eventually, tired legs, bodies and minds couldn’t finish. Tim Duncan knew that when he missed that late layup that could have tied the game, it was all over. The Miami Heat won 95-88, needing two Game 7’s on their last two series to finish one of the most impressive seasons, regular and playoffs, in NBA history.
LeBron James finished with 37 points, showing that even when you take away his ability to drive to the basket, relying mostly on three pointers and jumpers, he’s impossible to stop. James delivered the kind of performance you expect from the best player in the world, hitting five three pointers and finishing with 12-of-23 from the field, not to mention a perfect 8-of-8 from the line.
Dwyane Wade did the same in terms of taking what he had in front of him. It took the Heat some time to realize that unless they start taking the mid-range jumpers the Spurs were practically begging them to take, they’re not going to end this game smiling. Wade finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds in a fantastic performance on both ends of the floor to win his third NBA title.
Chris Andersen was everything Chris Bosh wasn’t during this night. Bosh finished with 0 points and five personal fouls, but made his usual great, unnoticeable plays on defense to change shots, which was enough at the end. Andersen will be talked about for a while about being a brilliant signing, adding energy, rebounding and some paint presence on both ends of the floor, not to mention some incredible hustle and defense on Tony Parker when necessary, as the Heat player their best with him and Shane Battier on the floor.
Battier wasn’t there for most of the postseason, but he made up for it in game 7. The Spurs weren’t given a chance to take too many three-pointers, but the Heat lived and died by them, hitting 12-of-32 in the game, but Battier himself finished with 6-of-8 from beyond the arc in his greatest playoff performance ever, scoring 18 points, bigger than he ever could.
Mario Chalmers had his usual up & down game, scoring 14 points, making brilliant plays and seconds later making one huge mistake. Manu Ginobili was the same, but it seemed like everything he did in crunch time was a mistake, a turnover or a bad shot. He scored 18 points and hit one big three in the fourth, but he also turned the ball over three times in six possessions, as the Spurs’ legs caved from under them, as fatigue took over, keeping Tony Parker off the floor in the most crucial time of all.
Kawhi Leonard (19 points, 16 rebounds) showed he’s a lot more than a role player, while Danny Green, playing ill, for a second straight game, couldn’t make a single positive play if someone was watching him. Tim Duncan, with another huge game (24 points, 12 rebounds), wasn’t going to be the one who decides this series.
Conclusion – The Miami Heat are on their way to be a dynasty, with LeBron James enriching his legacy with a game 7 for the ages. The San Antonio Spurs? While it’s going to be the usual stuff about them missing their last opportunity to win an NBA title with this group, that’s been said for the last five years. You never know.