Behind 37 big points from LeBron James, the Miami Heat won back-to-back NBA championships with a Game 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.
Heat outlast Spurs 95-88 to capture NBA Championship
For three quarters, the San Antonio Spurs matched every blow given to them by the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. But Miami ratcheted up the defense in the fourth quarter and successfully defended their title with a 95-88 victory.
The biggest factor that the box score won’t tell you is that San Antonio looked flat out uncomfortable throughout the entire game. They hurried shots, were forced into some bad turnovers, and didn’t have a strong offensive rhythm. San Antonio played like they were on fast forward and out of control for much of the game as they were continually harassed by the crowd. The Spurs actually caught a sizable break in that they trailed by only one heading into the final quarter.
LeBron James was the star of the game and of the series. After starting slowly in the series, the forward finished strong and capped his postseason performance with 37 points and 12 rebounds. For his effort, James was named as the Finals MVP after the game.
James was so dominant, in fact, that the Heat won despite some horrible games from some key players. Center Chris Bosh and guards Mike Miller and Ray Allen came out and laid a collective egg on the court. The three went a combined 0-14 from the field and were all scoreless. Few could have predicted a Miami win if that were known heading into the contest.
In the decisive fourth quarter, it was arguably the Heat’s defense that won the game and ultimately, the series. Miami forced San Antonio into six turnovers, blocked a shot, and took a charge. More importantly, they smothered the Spurs when shooting the ball, holding the road team to 6-18 from the field. San Antonio scored only 17 points in the quarter and could never get much going offensively.
But the Spurs didn’t just have trouble in the last period – their shooting woes lasted the entire game. San Antonio saved one of their worst playoff performances for the most important game as the team shot only 38% from the field. That was capped by a woeful performance by the Spurs’ Danny Green.
Green, who once looked like a Finals MVP candidate, pulled his second straight disappearing act. The guard averaged 18 points a game over the first five contests, but fell off the face of the earth in the last two. In Game 6, Green scored only three points on 1-7 shooting. He was just as bad in the decisive final game on Thursday, going 1-12 from the field for a total of five points. The Heat became more aware of Green and it showed over those last two games where he couldn’t find much breathing room. The coach he had been riding in for most of the series turned into a pumpkin pretty quickly at the end.
One player who won’t get a lot of credit but that played well was the Heat’s Chris Andersen. The Birdman played solid defense on Tim Duncan, forcing him into some bad misses, and made some great plays. The final box score will show he scored only three points and hauled in four rebounds, but Andersen brought solid energy off the bench.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with another strong game – 24 points and 12 rebounds. But the guy I’m leaving this series with a great impression of is Kawhi Leonard. Leonard was one of the most consistent performers for both teams and had 19 points and 16 boards. For the series, he averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds – both numbers significantly up from his season totals. In Leonard, San Antonio has an excellent building block for the future.
But that’s of little consolation for Spurs’ fans, who were denied a fifth title. San Antonio will head into the offseason with the realization that they nearly had the series won in Game 6 but couldn’t close the deal. Meanwhile, Miami will begin their quest for a third consecutive title.
And with James leading at the helm, it’s hard to pick against them.