Friday, June 21, 2013

Game 7 - A Repeat Champion

The 2013 NBA Finals will always be remembered for its superior play, Game 6, Danny Green's three-point record, LeBron James's resiliency, Dwyane Wade's and Time Duncan's resurgence, and a Miami Heat championship.

The Spurs raced out to a 7-point lead, but the two teams played the entire game within a few points of each other. When Tony Parker sat down, Miami came back and ended with a two-point lead after the first. Parker's sitting would foreshadow future events.

The first quarter was sluggish and both teams felt the magnitude of the game. Fromt hat point onward, James could not be stopped. Neither could Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, or Wade. James ended with 37 points, 12 rebounds, and the Finals MVP. James's jump shot was on point. After struggling the first three games of the series, he had a legendary final four contests.

Coming off of his astounding Game 6 performance, Duncan added 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 steals. One of those steals came early in the game and resulted in an awkward coast-to-coast jam for Duncan. But he missed a layup and subsequent tip with less than a minute to go to tie the game. It was realistically the last chance the Spurs had to capture the crown. Before that, Duncan threw away a possession after grabbing an offensive rebound.

Manu Ginobili, who ended with 18 points, was hot and cold. He hit a key three late, but committed two boneheaded turnovers in the fourth. With the game on the line, Head Coach Gregg Popovich chose to take out Tony Parker, who had struggled all game long. The result was a failed Ginobili drive that resulted in a third fourth quarter turnover.

Kawhi Leonard's 19 points and 16 rebounds announced his arrival as a budding star. He nailed an important three late in the fourth. But he missed another one. Leonard's series was better than anything he could have imagined. And yet, a missed free throw late in Game 6 and that missed three late in Game 7 will linger throughout the off season.

Shane Battier, who had shot terribly all series ling, went 6 for 8 from three and scored 18 points. Wade added 23 and Mario Chalmers put in 14. Those points were needed because Chris Bosh and Ray Allen scored zero points in the game. In fact, the Heat had two starters, Bosh and Mike Miller, score zero in the game.

The Heat won 95-88, but the game was closer than the margin of victory. Miami won their second straight title 4-3. The Heat were the favorites to win all season long. Their second half was the stuff of legend. At one point, Miami won 27 games in a row, the second longest streak in NBA history.

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