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NBA Gets Big Drama from Heat, Spurs

Charles E. Sutton | 6/23/2013, 4:44 p.m.
Courtesy of NBA via Instagram

If you're a basketball fan, you had to love this year's NBA Finals. Then again, if you're a Spurs fan maybe you didn't like it so much. But if you're reasonably objective, you have to admit this Miami-San Antonio championship series is one of the best we've seen in a long time.

You have to love a Game 7, and that's exactly what hoop fans all around the globe were treated to — an appropriate ending to a series in which neither team could win consecutive games in the first six contests.

You had LeBron James, arguably the best player in the league, performing brilliantly in Game 6, coming off some lackluster play earlier in the series. You were graced by some big-time minutes from Tim Duncan, the three-time Finals MVP in possibly his last championship appearance as his Hall of Fame career winds down.

You had sensational plays from two of the league's best international players, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Parker's dribbling on one knee and circus shot after evading James to close the Spurs' victory in the opener will go down in history as one of the most spectacular plays in a championship series. Ginobili's outstanding performance in Game 5, when he was placed into the starting lineup after producing nothing in the series prior to then, will also live on for a long time to come.

This seven-game series gave us a vintage, last-second jumper by Ray Allen, the greatest three-point shooter of all time, along with the unexpected emergence and record-setting three-point marksmanship of Danny Green.

Then there was Game 6, one of the best Finals’ games in decades. The only way it could have been better is if it were Game 7. To see the Spurs blow such a game when the champagne had been placed on ice was nearly as good as it gets from a purely dramatic standpoint.

It must be noted, though, that while we witnessed a great series, neither squad will be remembered as one of the all-time best. Quite frankly, both teams are flawed.

Miami does have James, currently in the prime of his career, after capturing his fourth MVP award in five years and guiding the Heat to a 27-game winning streak in the regular season, the second-longest of all-time.

But there have been many other teams that have won 66 games in the regular season, as the Heat did, and it's not as though Miami simply rolled through the playoffs. Going into Game 7, it had a 15-7 record in the postseason and facing its second straight seven-game series. While it won its second consecutive championship — typically the signature of a superior team — it never had a series lead in the first six game of the Finals.

And the Spurs, which actually had a better postseason record than the Heat entering Game 7 at 15-5, should have exited Miami with a mark of 16-4 and their fifth — and best — championship following Game 6. But they failed to close the game out, experiencing one of the all-time collapses in Finals history. Fortunately, it created the need for a Game 7, which, as it turned out, was one for the ages.

We can only hope that next year's Finals will provide nearly as much drama.