Dwyane Wade celebrates the big win with girlfriend Gabrielle Union on his lap and a cigar
Over what proved to be seven games, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs battled and battled.
Momentum swung wildly back and forth, and ultimately, one of the most exciting things in sports was required to separate the teams and determine the ultimate champion: Game 7.
The winner-take-all contest didn't disappoint, and at the end of Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Lebron James and the Heat made enough plays to outlast Tim Duncan and the Spurs.
James finished with 37 points, 12 rebounds and five 3-pointers, and the Heat emerged with a 95-88 victory over San Antonio Thursday night.
Dwyane Wade added a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. When asked
what it took to win the title, Wade's answer was simple.
"Everything," he said. "It took everything we had as a team."
Both teams started off very sloppy Thursday night, as it seemed like they
were paralyzed by the excitement in the air. Passes were off-target; poor shots
were attempted; and the ball-handling was shaky.
The Spurs took an early lead, but two 3-pointers from Miami's Shane Battier
quickly erased the deficit. With both teams shooting less than 40 percent, the
Heat ended the quarter with a two-point lead.
Battier started the second quarter still hot from beyond the arc, as he
quickly knocked down his third 3-pointer of the night, pushing the Heat lead to
After getting six quick points from James, it seemed as though the Heat were
ready to break the game open. But Miami got into foul trouble, and through 14
free throws, the Spurs were able to tie the game with the second quarter winding
Wade had the answer however, knocking down a mid-range jumper at the end of
the half to put the Heat up 46-44.
Wade sparked Miami in the first half by scoring 14 points and grabbing six
rebounds. James added 15 points.
Duncan led the way in the first half for San Antonio, scoring 13 points,
grabbing five rebounds and snagging four steals. Kawhi Leonard attacked the
glass well, scooping 10 rebounds.
The Spurs only shot 35 percent from the floor in the first half but outscored
the Heat in the paint 24-14.
Early in the second half, James drained back-to-back 3-pointers, and it
seemed as though the Heat would finally start breaking away. But the Spurs
continued to stay with Miami.
Manu Ginobili scored a layup with five seconds remaining in the third quarter
to put the Spurs up by two, but once again the Heat had an answer as Mario
Chalmers banked in a long 3-pointer as time expired in the third quarter with
the Heat leading, 72-71.
The fourth quarter started out rocky for the Spurs, as they had four
turnovers. The Heat continued to capitalize with big shots by Wade and James.
And with Battier's sixth 3 of the game, it looked as though the game would be
out of reach for the Spurs.
Duncan answered back however, drawing the foul, and making the tough bank
shot, cutting Miami's lead to three.
After trading buckets between Wade and Leonard, Duncan missed a tip-in that
would have tied the game. Instead, the Spurs gave the ball back to Miami with 39
The following possession, LeBron came off a screen and drained an open
jumper, putting the Heat up by four with 27 seconds left.
After James' clutch jumper, Ginobili made a poor pass, which resulted in the
Spurs having to foul Miami until the clock expired.
In the losing effort, Duncan finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while
Leonard added 19 points and 16 rebounds.
By prevailing, the Heat successfully defended their championship and secured
their third title in franchise history.
It's also James' second title, further cementing his place in history.
"I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason I put a lot of work into
it," said James, who was named the finals MVP. "And to come out and to be able
to come out here, and the results happen on the floor ... it's the ultimate.
"I'm lost for words," he later added.
By Mitch Kunzler
For the Deseret News
The San Antonio Spurs have won 4 NBA Championship Titles in their franchise history. They have won titles in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007. All years that end with an odd number. They are also undefeated in the Finals. The Miami Heat have won 2 Titles in 2006 and 2012. Both years end with an even number. They lost in 2011 to the Dallas Mavericks but returned the next year to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder. Will the odds and even streak continue tonight?
The most impressive statistic coming into Thursday's Game 7 has to be the fact that the Spurs are 4-0 this postseason after suffering a loss.
In those four wins, San Antonio has won easily, by an average of 18.5 points per game. But Tuesday's Game 6 loss was unlike any of the other losses the Spurs have been dealt in these playoffs.
San Antonio led by five points with under 30 seconds left to play, a game the Spurs win 99 out of 100 times. An overtime loss at this stage is gut-wrenching without a doubt, but the Spurs' most recent defeat falls under the category of demoralizing
Plus, the Spurs will be putting their stat up against some overwhelming history. You have to go all the way back to 1978 to find the last time a team won Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the road
Will Tony Parker
and company become the first squad in 35 years to win a championship-clinching Game 7 in hostile territory, or will the Heat join the list of teams over the past four decades who have secured the crown on their
A win in Game 7 would give the Heat back-to-back NBA titles, providing them with their own special place in NBA history as one of only a handful of teams to win consecutive championships.
Individually, LeBron James
, Dwyane Wade
and Chris Bosh
would all add another ring to their Hall of Fame resumes. Wade would become a three-time champion and James would be just four titles shy of Michael Jordan
LeBron would also join another very short and impressive list with a win. NBA betting is becoming more popular each year. This is known as one of the sports where a smart bettor who practiced proper money management can make some really huge profits. Once a bettor begins to study and understand NBA Odds, he or she can gain a better understanding of how the bookies set their numbers. The bookies set a lot of these NBA Odds with the public in mind. They know the public is going to bet the Lakers and Bulls (and other well known teams) every week or so there are some great situations to get good numbers by going against teams like that.
Place your bets on tonight's game on the only Sportsbook that gives you more ways to win and $100 Free Play for new members. JOIN PRIME WAGERS
Manu Ginobili had 24 points and 10 assists in a surprise start to spark the San Antonio Spurs to a 114-104 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, pushing the Spurs one victory away from their fifth championship.
Danny Green scored 24 points and broke Ray Allen's finals record for 3s in a series with 25. Tony Parker had 26 points for San Antonio.
LeBron James scored 25 points on 8-for-22 shooting for the Heat and Dwyane Wade had 25 points and 10 assists. But the Heat missed 21 of their first 29 shots to fall behind by 17 points in the second quarter of another uninspired performance.
Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Miami.
Whirling through the defense like the Manu of old, Ginobili shrugged off a postseason full of disappointment to deliver a performance that the Spurs have never needed more desperately. He hit 8 of 14 shots and had his highest points total since June 4, 2012.
Tim Duncan had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Green was 6 for 10 from 3-point range, and Parker gutted through 36 minutes on that tender right hamstring. Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and eight rebounds, and the San Antonio shot 60 percent to overcome 19 turnovers.
Allen scored 21 points and Chris Bosh had 16 points and six rebounds for the Heat, who were stunned by a vintage Ginobili performance early and never really recovered.
Miami missed 21 of its first 29 shots and Green hit three straight 3s in the middle of the second quarter to tie Allen's record of 22. The Spurs led 47-30 on Duncan's two free throws before the Heat finally showed some fight.
A 12-0 run got them back within striking distance at 47-42 and the Heat surged out of the halftime gates to cut San Antonio's lead to 61-59 in the first 1:17 of the third.
San Antonio pushed right back, getting a jumper from Parker, a 3-pointer from Green that broke Allen's record and a lefty layup from Ginobili to get a little breathing room.
Ginobili closed the third with a twisting, off-balance, left-handed runner and a right-handed drive to the bucket to bring cheers of ''Manu! Manu!'' from the delirious crowd.
Nowhere to be found in the first four games, and for most of these playoffs, Ginobili had his fingerprints all over the opening of Game 5. He hit a step-back jumper, had two pretty assists on a backdoor cut from Green and a thunderous dunk from Duncan and knocked down two free throws for an early 9-4 lead.
Ginobili's 3-pointer from the wing made it 15-10, bringing the nervous crowd to its feet. The awakening was a welcome sign for the Spurs, who desperately missed their playmaking daredevil.
The Heat reclaimed momentum in Game 4 thanks to a shuffle of the starting lineup by coach Erik Spoelstra, who moved sharp-shooter Mike Miller into the starting lineup in Udonis Haslem's place, giving Miami a smaller lineup that spaced the floor better and gave James and Wade room to operate.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made a move to match that on Sunday night, putting the struggling Ginobili in for center Tiago Splitter. Ginobili was averaging 7.5 points in the first four games and shooting 34 percent. In the final year of his deal, the soon-to-be 36-year-old was asked about retirement on Saturday.
The crowd roared for Ginobili when he was introduced last, with one banner reading ''We still Gino-believe!''
Wade had endured a similarly quiet start to these finals before erupting for 32 points and six steals in Miami's Game 4 victory that evened the series. That carried over to the opening quarter of Game 5, when Wade's assertive play helped Miami withstand Ginobili's initial haymaker.
Wade's trademark euro-step on the break and two free throws kept the game tight and James hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 17 with under 5 minutes to play in the period.
The two teams entered Game 5 riding a pendulum of momentum that was swinging wildly back and forth over the previous three games. A classic, air-tight Game 1 victory by the Spurs gave way to three blowouts - Miami by 19 in Game 1, San Antonio by 36 in Game 3 and the Heat by 16 in Game 4.
The volatility made it difficult for either team to feel like it had a grip on expectations heading into the pivotal Game 5, but the Heat did appear to finally assert themselves with a dominant performance from their three All-Stars on Thursday night.
James, Wade and Bosh broke out of a series-long malaise to combine for 85 points, 30 rebounds and 10 steals, finally finding a way to get to the rim against the paint-clogging Spurs defense.
But for a team as talented and experienced as they are, these Heat have shown a maddening inconsistency over the last month. The team that won 27 straight during the regular season came into the game having going 11 straight games without winning two in a row.
There was so much more riding on this game for the Spurs than the Heat, who reclaimed homecourt advantage with their decisive victory in Game 4. Under the current 2-3-2 format that was adopted in 1985, no visiting team has won both Games 6 and 7 on the road in the finals.
And the Spurs played with more urgency from the start.
Now the Heat's backs are against the wall one more time. And it was Ginobili who put them there.