Now THAT was the Miami Heat that won 27 consecutive games.
It wasn’t the dominating team that so many people replace with the team that won 27 straight. They tend to forget that many of the wins during that streak came by way of the Heat getting pushed to the brink of disaster (whether it was their one-point win over the Orlando Magic or the 27-point comeback against Cleveland) and somehow miraculously pulling out a win.
The Heat last night, turning a 94-89 deficit with 28 seconds remaining into a game that would be sent into overtime, were everything like that team. Heart-stopping, sweat and tear-inducing basketball that ends up turning a sure Heat loss into one of the most improbable victories you’ll ever end up seeing.
Last night’s 103-100 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs was the 2012-’13 Miami Heat in a nutshell. Have the appearance of a team that almost doesn’t care in certain stretches, and then suddenly get it all together in the final minutes to steal a victory that should already be on ESPN Classic and have a Disney movie made about it.
It’s the freakishly-powerful, diesel engine that could? Sure.
Led by LeBron James and an onslaught of three-pointers, the Heat were able to erase a ten-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter and actually took an 84-82 lead with 6:03 left in the game. It came off a Ray Allen drive, and seemed to give all the momentum to the Heat.
Miami pushed the lead to three with 2:09 left, but back-to-back jumpers from Tony Parker incredibly gave the Spurs a two-point lead with 58 seconds remaining. Miami’s response was a turnover by LeBron and a foul by Allen on Manu Ginobili in the open court to prevent a fastbreak.
Ginobili would knock down both and then madness would ensue over the next 37.2 seconds. Another LeBron turnover and another Allen foul would give Manu a chance to extend the lead even further, but he was able to only hit 1-of-2 to push San Antonio’s lead to five with 28 seconds left.
James would badly miss a three-pointer on his first attempt on the ensuing possession, but a battle for the rebound would end up back in LeBron’s hands. He wouldn’t miss the three this time, as he cut the Spurs lead to two with 20 seconds left.
21-year-old Kawhi Leonard then stepped to the line to potentially put the game on ice with a pair of free throws. Instead, nerves may have gotten the best of the young star and he missed the first free throw after the ball hopped in and out of the rim. He would convert the second, however, to give the Spurs a three-point lead.
And then, chaos:
The entire city of Miami must repent their sins for speaking badly of Allen during his struggles against Chicago and Indiana in the two previous series. We should have refrained knowing there would come a time like this when Allen would hit a shot that would save Miami’s championship season.
Tony Parker missed a difficult floater on the other end and the game was sent into overtime; a five-minute period that would ultimately decide whether we were going to get another championship celebration on Miami’s floor by another team or the always-fun, always-nauseating Game 7.
Parker hit a free throw with 2:42 left to give the Spurs a three-point lead and it would be the last time they would score. The Heat would respond with an Allen runner that trickled in off the rim and a short jumper by LeBron to regain the lead.
That would be the last field-goal of the game, but huge defensive stands by the Heat would not allow the Spurs to get back the victory they were all but assured with 28 seconds left in regulation. Instead, Manu Ginobili turned the ball over and Danny Green had his game-tying three-point attempt blocked by Chris Bosh, the same guy who said before the game that Green wasn’t going to get open.
Green was 1-of-7 overall and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc last night. There’s that Law of Averages we were waiting to begin seeing.
Meanwhile, the Heat shot 11-of-19 from beyond the arc. In fact, it’s how they came back to make it a game. Facing a 75-65 deficit heading into the fourth, the Heat got three-pointers from Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller (on one shoe!) in the first 1:37 of the fourth to cut the deficit to four.
But the fourth quarter belonged to LeBron. After struggling mightily to score 13 points on 3-of-12 shooting in the first three quarters, LeBron played like LeBron in the fourth quarter and overtime, going off for 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting over the final 19 minutes.
He was aggressive at all facets of the game, represented by the 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds he dropped; the second triple-double of the Finals for James. One could only wonder where this player had been not just all game, but all series really.
James played a role in all of Miami’s first 11 points of the fourth, scoring eight points and assisting on both Mario and Mike’s three-pointers to start the quarter. Those are the types of plays and numbers we have come to expect from the world’s greatest basketball player.
Oh, and how we can forget: He did the majority of his damage without his headband, which fell off after his putback dunk on a Chalmers’ miss. It was odd, to say the least, because LeBron looks like Joel Anthony from faraway without his headband.
The game’s hero in Ray Allen finished with nine points on 3-of-8 shooting and 1-of-3 from beyond the arc. The game’s defensive hero in Chris Bosh finished with only 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting, but also had 11 rebounds and blocked San Antonio’s final two shots of the game.
Mario Chalmers played the role of aggressor early, finishing with a healthy 20 points and converting 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Shane Battier played only 12-and-a-half minutes, but was finally able to contribute with 3-of-4 shooting from the perimeter.
After hitting seemingly every shot throughout Games 2, 3, 4 and 5, the Spurs finally came down to earth converting 43 percent of their shots overall and only 28 percent of their 18 three-point attempts. Miami’s perimeter defense in Game 6 was easily the best it had played all series.
As stated before, Green was 1-of-5 from beyond the arc and finished with three points. He was arguably the Finals MVP heading into last night.
Tony Parker, despite hitting two huge shots at the end of the fourth, struggled with 6-of-12 shooting and only 18 points to show for it. Tim Duncan finished with a rejuvenated and youthful 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting, but scored only five points in the second half and scored his last point with 4:31 left in the third quarter.
But now the Miami Heat is champions after long last. See y’all next season!
Wait, THERE’S ANOTHER GAME? What do you think, Manu Ginobili?
“I have no clue how we’re going to be reenergized,” Ginobili responded, when reminded that San Antonio must pull itself together for Game 7 on Thursday night in Miami. “I’m devastated. But we have to. There’s no Game 8 afterwards.”
Energy and confidence is wearing thin within the Spurs.