They won a thrilling game 7, with LeBron James scoring 37 points while grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists on his way to winning the MVP of the NBA Finals. Dwyane Wade appeared to become better and better offensively as these NBA Finals progressed. He was accused of being too timid, too hurt and too old to be an effective threat B to LeBron’s threat A. But, in the end, his offense became progressively better as analysts predicted his sore knees would ultimate prove his undoing.
However, the only thing that was undone was any notion that D. Wade was ready to be sent out to pasture. He would close out these NBA Finals with a silent but deadly 24 points and 11 rebounds. Shhhhh….he also shot over 45 percent from the field in three of the last four games. Don’t tell nobody but…he actually balled-out on the humble as he would eventually begin exploiting the Spurs’ defensive strategy, which was designed to prevent Wade and James from attacking the rim. Because of this strategy, Wade and James initially had trouble scoring from 15 feet and beyond as both would rather drive than settle for a jumper.
Defenders were giving the Heat’s talented twosome a disrespectful amount of space in daring them to shoot and make jump shots. Often times there wasn’t a player within six feet of Wade or LeBron when they shot from 15 feet and beyond. If you give any shooter (no matter how streaky) that much space he will eventually begin making them. Works in junior high school and in the NBA. With all due respect to Gregg Popovich, that was a horrible idea. To the chagrin of the Spurs’ bench, those shots would eventually begin falling with regularity. James would finish the game 5-10 from beyond the arc as well.
What can you say about Chris Bosh that hasn’t already been said? He had to have had the worse game 7 in the history of $100 million basketball players while going 0-5 from the field with zero points. Heat top executive Pat Riley will have to contemplate whether or not Bosh can be moved for a more traditional power forward or true center who actually enjoys banging with the big uglies in the paint instead of seeing it as something of a chore at best, a punishment at worse.
Like who? Perhaps an Al Jefferson-type of player. I’m no one’s idea of a general manager, but I would have no use for a power forward who knows how to shoot a jump shot yet has no post moves to speak of, and no grittiness either.
Shane Battier was having a notoriously bad NBA Finals shooting wise but stepped up big time in the deciding game. He would finish with 18 points on 6-8 shooting for downtown, more than compensating for Bosh’s no show.
Remember when people were gushing over Danny Green? Remember when they were saying he was the MVP of the Finals up until game 6? Well, Green suffered through his second straight wretched game in a row and appeared to buckle under the weight of his own success after breaking an NBA Finals record for three point makes previously held by Ray Allen of the Miami Heat. The record stands at 27 3-pointers down the hatch. But I’m certain Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs would have liked it if Green’s Finals record was around, ooooh maybe, 33 or so. He would finish game 7 shooting an abysmal 1 for 12 from the field. He is deficient in every basketball skill except standstill shooting.
For those who thought it was a forgone conclusion that shooting guards be able to shoot the basketball in a variety of ways I offer Green as the counter argument. After his hot shooting game 5 the Heat realized that he was a disaster waiting to happen off the dribble and forced him into a menagerie of clueless turnovers. Atrocious! His defensive instincts were non-existent as he continually helped off the corner and wing shooters while attempting to strong side penetration.
Tony Parker finally succumbed to the blistering on-ball pressure being applied by LeBron James. We know the man formerly known as Le Petit Point was cooling off Heat defenders with his ice cold shooting and clutch shot making ability in the first four games of the series, but Miami coach Erik Spoelstra rolled the dice by taking LeBron James off of small forward Kawhi Leonard and placing him on Parker. What appeared to be a gamble turned into one of the smartest chess moves of the series. TP was averaging 21 points per game on 47 percent shooting in the 2013 NBA playoffs. Parker would score 10 points while shooting 25 percent from the field in the trophy clinching game 7.
Manu Ginobili, who appeared to be en route to yet another disappointing Finals box score, played very well through three quarters of play. In fact, he didn’t register his first turnover until after the 10 minute mark in the fourth quarter. This was a great sign for the Spurs’ fan faithful after witnessing Manu single-handedly throw away game 6 with a career-high eight turnovers.
However, the “old” looking Ginobili would return as he would register four turnovers in the period, many of which he appeared to just throw to no one in particular.
Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich’s late game substitutions in game 6 and his inflexible defensive game plan against LeBron and D. Wade will haunt him for the foreseeable future.
Someone asked me “Does Ginobili even know how to throw a basic chest pass?” I seriously couldn’t answer the question seeing as though I never saw him throw one. Using antiquated And-1 mixtape moves during a critical playoff series must be all the rage in Argentina, but Manu and his moves were rendered largely ineffective due in part to the length and tenacity of the Miami Heat perimeter defenders, and his absolute refusal to just make the simple play. He had 12 combined turnovers in the last two games of the series.
Kawhi Leonard will be an NBA superstar next year if only he becomes a bit more of a narcissist, a bit more of an A-hole. He would finish with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Judging from his playoff body of work, he might already be one of the top 4 best rebounding small forwards in the league. He averaged 9 rebounds throughout these Finals.
The ghosts of squandered game 6 opportunities would come back to haunt the Spurs late in game 7 as Tim Duncan’s running hook shot bounced off the rim, his tip follow up would not find a home in the basket as either. The elder statesman was the best big man in this year’s NBA playoffs and the most consistent Spur as well. The Miami Heat had more in the tank and outlasted a very game San Antonio Spurs team that simply ran out of gas.
Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance journalist based in the Bronx, NY. He has written for EURweb.com almost from the beginning and started out as a writer for Lee Bailey’s RadioScope in 1998. He currently covers entertainment, sports, current events and politics. His byline has appeared in such publications as Bleacher Report, Allhiphop.com, Hiphopdx.com, Right On, the Philadelphia Sun, and Black Beat among others. You can follow him on twitter at NikosMightyDad.