Game 7 left no room for questions, unlike its predecessor. LeBron James completed one of the most impressive two years stretches ever for a basketball player by winning the NBA title and Finals MVP to go along with his regular season MVP, while erasing any doubts about hit ability to perform at the highest level when a game matters the most.
The shot everyone’s talking about was his big jumper over Kawhi Leonard with 27 seconds left on the clock, giving the Heat a 92-88 lead, and pretty much knocking an arrow into the heart of Spurs players, who believed they had a chance of coming back up to that point.
He followed that up by picking up a terrible pass from Manu Ginobili and going to the line, making it 8-for-8 for him from the line on a game 7 performance that couldn’t have gone better: 37 points, 12 rebounds and hitting five three pointers, while doing everything right with the game on the line in one of the best finals series we’ve seen in a very long time.
There was also the defense on Tony Parker. In the final two games, James spent a lot of time guarding Parker, who withered away as the series progressed, with his game winning shot in Game 1 suddenly looking like something that happened in another season. Parker shot only 9-of-35 from the field since that change, and wasn’t even on the court, too exhausted from the weight of the season and the competition he was facing.
The Heat were the fitter, more athletic team, but it wasn’t why they won. They won because they are the more talented team, finally playing like one. They made their shots was something Spurs players repeated during the post-game pressers, but it was true. The Spurs decided to give him, Wade and the others their shots, and James couldn’t stop hitting them when it mattered. Only five players scored points for Miami, but four of them – James, Wade, Battier and Chalmers, combined for 92 points, more than the entire San Antonio Spurs team.
Game 6 put Ray Allen in the spotlight, while gave James another inconclusive finish – coming up big during the fourth quarter, but turning the ball over four times during the final minutes (including overtime), and missing 2-of-3 big three pointers. But people forgot he made one of them, and hit the shot that gave, finally, the Heat the lead in overtime. It was more of the same form him in game 7, rarely breaking to the basket because the Spurs were forcing him to either shoot or pass. Shane Battier, on a 6-of-8 unique day from beyond the arc, made sure they paid for their decisions.
This was a shooting team built around two superstars and an All-Star, and while Chris Bosh faded into being almost useless for one game (0 points), Dwyane Wade reminded everyone he was still here with big shots over both Danny Green and Leonard, scoring 23 points, and some big plays on defense, which included doing just about enough to stop Tim Duncan from hitting shots he usually has an easier time with.
Only Shane Battier stepped up to the plate, but that was enough. Mike Miller couldn’t get anything to fall, and Ray Allen wasted his ‘money’ moment in the previous game. But everyone did enough in some great defensive stops to make sure that a collective team effort on offense wasn’t needed. Individual brilliance from James & Wade, while Battier and Chalmers, each in their own way, made the most of what was given to them.
A dynasty in the making? Hard to say. Three finals, two titles is the right way to kick it off, but it’s usually about three-peats, something that’s happened only four other times in NBA history, or at more than two titles stretching over a number of years. Something like the Spurs did between 1999-2007, and haven’t been able to recapture since.
The Heat have a certain window of opportunity that will last for at least one more season to live up to that comparison with this squad, and if LeBron James keeps getting better and better while Wade and Bosh can sustain their current level without facing another big drop in their ability, there’s no reason it shouldn’t happen.