Congratulations are in order for the 2013 NBA Champion Miami Heat. They won a thrilling Game 7 over the San Antonio Spurs 95-88. It was the second game in a row that could be labeled a classic, and it cemented this series as one of the best in recent memory. Here are my thoughts on Game 7.
1. Let That Man Live- 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and seven assists per game, with two triple-doubles in the NBA Finals. That is a stat line that any player in the League would be happy with, and fans would laud him for an epic series. The only player who can put up numbers like that and still come under heavy and ridiculous scrutiny is LeBron James. It is mind blowing.
I’ll be the first to admit, there were times during this series that he seemed confused, passive, and out of sorts by how the Spurs were defending him, but when the chips were all on the table toward the end of Game 6 and again for an entire Game 7, James rose to the occasion in a special way. He also showed the diversity in his game that makes him an all-time great, and the potential to continue to climb up the ranks of the great ones.
In the fourth quarter and overtime of Game 6, he took control of the game while attacking the basket with great ferocity. He also had two turnovers that could have cost the Heat the game, but he knocked down a big three that set up the game tying shot by Ray Allen, which will go down in NBA Finals lore. He also scored the go-ahead basket in overtime that helped send the series to Game 7.
In Game 7, he did everything that he could to silence his many critics and pundits. He finally took advantage of the Spurs playing off of him, knocking down five of ten threes. Let the record show, if he begins to shoot like that consistently, he will be completely unstoppable in the years to come. When it was time to drive to the basket, he did just that. When he didn’t finish, he got fouled, and finished a perfect 8-8 on free throws. He came out aggressive from the start and put on the type of performance that you expect from a star. He finished the game with 37 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists. It was a virtuoso performance that he needed to have on this stage.
It is at this point that I ask everyone to let this man live, and just watch how the rest of his career plays out. Stop comparing him to Jordan. Stop reminding us that he only has two rings, while MJ has six and Kobe has five. Stop talking about how he doesn’t have a killer instinct. At this point, it is just gratuitous hate. You are spending so much time knocking him down, that you are missing the prime of one of the best we have ever seen do it. Barring injury, he has plenty of time left in his career, and will have plenty of opportunities to knock down the barriers you all place for him. It is my hope that you all eventually appreciate what you are seeing in the moment, instead of waiting until he retires to acknowledge the greatness.
2. A Salute To The Others- Prior to the game, I posted on Facebook that I expected LeBron to show up and have a monster game. I also said that I didn’t know what to expect from Dwyane Wade. With that thought, I felt that the Heat needed a big game from at least two other contributors. Wade showed up in a huge way with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Like LeBron, he finally took advantage of the Spurs sagging off of him. The Heat also made a concerted effort to give him some room in isolations, which made it easier for him to get his shots off. He showed up like you would expect a guy with his resume to.
Then there is Shane Battier. Here is a guy that was virtually silent throughout the entire Finals. Yet in Game 7, he shot the lights out and played the role that Mike Miller did in last season’s close out game against Oklahoma City. He was the beneficiary of some good ball movement and found himself wide open early and often. He knocked down his first five threes en route to going 6-8 from the three point line. His performance, along with Mario Chalmers coming through with his typical timely shots in a big game were just what the Heat needed to get them over the top. LeBron will, and should get most of the headlines, but a tip of the cap is due to the role players for showing up big in Game 7.
3. The One That Got Away- There were many people that thought the Spurs would not be able to bounce back and put up a good showing after choking away Game 6. Early in the game, they let us know that would not be the case. They stayed in the game all the way through, and with a minute to go had a chance to tie it. That is when sports showed how cruel it can be to one of the greats.
Tim Duncan got the ball in the post with Shane Battier switched on him. He spun to the basket and shot a hook shot that he makes nine times out of 10. This happened to be the one time he would miss. To top it off, he came up short on the follow shot as well. It was shocking to him and everyone else watching. You could see the pain on his face, and you could also see the stunned looks on the face of Heat players after they called timeout. As someone who is not a Spurs fan, but always had an appreciation for Duncan, my stomach sank when he missed it. It was the story of the last two games wrapped into one moment.
Despite getting next to nothing in Game 7 from Tony Parker and Danny Green, the Spurs were right there. Thanks to excellent efforts by Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard (one of my favorite players to watch), along with some timely shots by the turnover-prone Manu Ginobili, the Spurs had a chance to win it. Yet when it came down to it, one of the most reliable players in the history of the game came up just short.
While all credit is due to the Heat for winning this series, the Spurs players and fans will think for years to come about how close they were. They will wonder how different the outcome would have been if Tony Parker was completely healthy. They will wonder why Ginobili played horrible, reckless basketball for most of the series. They will wonder why Coach Pop pulled Tim Duncan when they just needed one rebound to close out Game 6, and they’ll wonder how in the world Duncan came up short on that last shot. This series will be looked at as the one that got away. Sad, considering how well the Spurs played.
There you have my thoughts on Game 7. I must thank the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs for a great series, especially two classic games at its conclusion. These were two games that had everything any sports fan could want. They were full of drama, great individual play, and came down to the end. They were a thing of beauty and a joy for me to watch as a fan of the game.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my thoughts on these NBA Finals. I do not take it for granted that you take the time to read them. There are plenty of articles and blogs that come out daily, so the fact that you take the time to read mine is humbling, and most certainly appreciated. I look forward to doing this again for years to come.
As always, feel free to comment here or on Twitter, and let me know what you think.
I’m Jimmy L. Wilson, Jr., and I approve this message.