- Series Hub: Spurs-Heat
24 — Not sure who I’m going to miss more this summer, Julia Dale or Jesse Williams (who needs to stay out of Dwyane Wade‘s closet. #NBAStyle). Excellent work you two, but onto the game now … finally!
23 — So much for the Spurs’ Game 6 hangover. Just as I suspected, they’ve got the adrenaline pumping, starting with Tim Duncan, who converted his first coast-to-coast, one-man break with a dunk since he was at Wake Forest. I love Game 7s, love the drama, energy and the competitive fire it brings out of great players. Spurs up 11-4, by the way, bringing it to the Heat without so much as a care about Game 6. Better step it up Heat, because the Spurs plan on leaving the building with Larry O’Brien.
22 — These officials (whose names shall not be written here, don’t want to jinx it) are allowing a staggering amount of physical contact on both sides early on here. I have to admit that I love it. I’d rather they blow fewer whistles in a game like this. They’ve probably missed a few fouls (like this one) but you have to give up something to get a game like this called the right way. They are setting a tone right now and making sure both sides realize that they are going to have to decide this thing and not rely on selling calls to gain an advantage. This is how it should be done.
21 — As TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal would say, “Birdman … Birdman!” Chris Andersen making his presence felt with pure energy on both ends. Two big 3-pointers from Shane Battier help spark the Heat’s 8-0 run late in the first quarter. First 12 minutes a bit sloppy on both sides but so what, “both teams played hard my man.” #RasheedWallace
20 — Battier’s revenge! Knocks down his third 3-pointer of the night and making his case for extended minutes tonight. You had to figure he was going to resurface at some point after going underground earlier in this series.
19 — Spurs battle right back with a mini-run of their own, fueled by the turnovers they are causing as the Heat rush toward the basket time after time and get balls stripped or tapped out from behind. This is the pace Spurs coach Gregg Popovich talks about all the time. The “old and crusty” Spurs look like the much more effective team in transition right now, just as they have to me for much of this series.
18 — Six quick points for LeBron with the small-ball lineup of Mario Chalmers, Birdman, Mike Miller and Ray Allen. First bucket was a coast-to-coast drive and the foul, one of those moves only LeBron makes. And then the Spurs dare him to shoot a long jumper and he dribbles it out and steps back and drops a 3-pointer over Danny Green to stretch the Heat lead to six, 33-27. This is the same group that went on that 33-5 tear in Game 2, the group that went wild with Wade and Chris Bosh on the bench.
17 — I don’t care what Kawhi Leonard‘s driver’s license or birth certificate says, he’s a man beyond his years. He’s got 10 rebounds already and is going at LeBron on both ends. His work in this series has been a revelation, even for the folks who watch the Spurs on the regular. Surely, no one expected this young cat to play like this on this stage. A young star has been born folks.
16 — Wade matches his Game 6 output before halftime, scoring 14 points in 18 minutes by going back to Flash mode. Heat lead 46-44 at the break on Wade’s third pull-up wing jumper. The Spurs are sagging off of both Wade and James, daring them to beat them with anything but plays at the rim. They’ve picked their spots to attack and when to step back and knocked down shots. They scored 20 of the Heat’s final 21 points of the half, a sloppy but beautifully chaotic first half that has featured all of the energy we could have asked for from both sides in a Game 7. Wade is shutting up his critics by gutting it out and playing like the future Hall of Famer he is on the biggest stage.
15 — The Game 7 crucible is costing us some aesthetics in this game, but honestly that’s what I expected. Lakers and Celtics did this same thing in 2010, when the action was scattered all night and the Lakers needed a late-game rescue from of all people my main man Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace). I’m wondering what non-megastar in this game is waiting in the wings to play hero tonight?
14 — Leonard is seriously in danger of stealing The Finals MVP award for the Spurs if they find a way to win this game. as good he was in the first half he’s been even better since then, attacking offensively and scoring in a variety of ways. He gets basically whatever he wants with those umbrellas for hands. He does it all without ever so much as single change in expression … he might be a suitable heir to the no-nonsense throne Duncan has occupied for years in San Antonio.
13 — Party is over for DDG. He’s 0-for-7 and appears to have lost all confidence in the past six quarters of this series. Never saw a guy shoot the lights out the way he did in the first five games of this series. Never seen that spark disappear as quickly as it has for a guy who made it look so easy for so long.
12 — Right on queue, DDG snaps his 0-for-8 streak and drains the corner 3-pointer for a 57-56 lead with 5:08 to play in the third. Good thing Pop coaches the Spurs and not me, because I’d have taken DDG out long before that shot.
11 —Another 3-pointer for LeBron, that’s four tonight. Phil Jackson told me on Episode 122 of the Hang Time Podcast that this is exactly the way you have to defend LeBron. But he just measured up another one and nailed it for a 62-57 lead. Not sure if this plan is going to work if he shoots 5-for-7 on his next seven attempts from deep.
10 — Spurs come right back with a run of their own. Boris Diaw makes you wonder what might have been if he was in just decent (not necessarily superior) shape. Could you keep him out there on LeBron for an extended stretch and let Leonard eat someone else alive on the offensive end? Great game either way and anyone who assumed we wouldn’t get an epic Game 7 out of these two outfits (and all of the competitive warriors on both rosters) better sit back and enjoy the rest of the last and best game of the season.
9 — Manu with the cold-blooded driving layup with 5.2 seconds to play in the third gives the Spurs a 71-69 lead. And Chalmers answers with a running 3-point heave at the buzzer that kisses off the glass and goes in for a 72-71 Heat lead with what should be the 12 best minutes of the season left to play. Drop the mic Game 7. #InstantClassic!
8 — Battier is 5-for-5, nails another corner 3 on the sweet pass from LeBron. Shades of Artest 2010, folks.
7 — Ginobili giveth and then he taketh away with his driving layup sandwiched between two costly turnovers. If looks could kill, Pop would be in the Dade County lock up already. Meanwhile the Spurs keep daring Wade and LeBron to beat them with jumpers and you guessed it, they keep beating them with jumpers. The Spurs won’t abandon the plan and it could end up costing them this game and title No. 5.
6 — Manu giveth … again!
5 — Battier with another 3 on a feed from LeBron and the 88-82 lead. He’s playing redemption’s song for the awful stretch of basketball he played earlier in this series. He’s kept Miller and Allen on the bench for the duration here. But Duncan comes right back with a layup and foul (a horrible call on Bosh for his fifth), sinks the free throw and makes it an 88-85 game with just over three minutes left in a game that should make you forget about the instant classic that was Game 6.
4 — Leonard has yet another answer for you LeBron with the wing 3-pointer. This kid has played the game of his life on the global stage. Unreal effort.
3– If you can’t tie the game with the greatest power forward to play the game being guarded by a completely overmatched Battier at the rim, then maybe it’s just not your night. The Spurs couldn’t have asked for a better set up and Timmy just missed the bunny.
2 — Just 39 seconds and two points separating the Heat from a repeat title. And LeBron gives us another swished jumper for his 34th and 35th points of the night. A four-point lead in this game and this series means nothing with 28 seconds left. Remember Game 6? But it helps when you make the steal on the Spurs’ next play, get fouled and sink both free throws for the 94-88 lead with 23 seconds to play. Get the confetti ready Miami, it’s party time.
1 — Not one, Not two … LeBron and Wade silence their critics with masterful performances. Two titles in three years together and to do it in dramatic fashion this time. The stars come out in Game 7 and the Heat’s biggest stars showed up. Battier was spectacular and the Spurs will be haunted by the final 28 seconds of Games 6 and 7, when their execution failed them. Great game, great series and a deserved champion has been crowned. Props to the Spurs and Heat for treating us to a series for the ages and finishing the 2012-13 season in style. LeBron’s second straight title and second straight Finals MVP is well deserved.