The NBA Finals - It's A Heat Repeat

THE NBA FINALS REPORT- IT'S A HEAT REPEAT AS KING JAMES AND FRIENDS SLIP PAST THE SPURS 95-88 IN GAME 7 (BUT, OH, HOW THINGS COULD HAVE BEEN SO DIFFERENT!)

By Jim Hurley:

The NBA record book will state how the Miami Heat last night became the sixth consecutive Game 7 home team to win in the NBA Finals while dating back the past 29 years (see our chart below).

It'll also show how LeBron James- he of the 37 points, 12 rebounds and great defense (mainly on San Antonio point guard Tony Parker) in Game 7- just wrapped up back-to-back Finals MVPs and thus he joins the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon who've nabbed at least back-to-back Finals MVPs (they only started to reward one back in 1969).

What the NBA record book won't show is how a Tim Duncan layup (and attempted put-back to boot) with only 49 seconds to go with the Spurs down only a deuce could have changed NBA history or how once again San Antonio closed out a Finals game without a point late- this time the Western Conference champions didn't scratch in the game's last 2:02 after failing to score the last 2:42 in overtime back in Tuesday's Game 6.

In the end, Miami's absolute survival-of-the-fittest 95-88 win/cover against the 5 ½-point underdog Spurs proved that you don't exactly have to be perfect to win an NBA championship and- as the keen James told the ESPN crew starring Magic Johnson afterwards- sometimes you need a little luck to win a title too.

No doubt that James was harkening back to that Game 6 miracle when Miami won 103-100 in overtime even though it was once down by five points with 28 seconds to go and that front-running Heat crowd was charging out the doors as if the American Airlines Arena (or the "Triple A" as the locals call it) was on fire!

So, the Heat has its repeat and next goes for a three-peat- but there's a whole lot to review/digest first regarding Game 7 and we'll get to it in a moment but first here's that aforementioned list of NBA Finals home teams that have won in a Game 7 since 1984:

YEAR WINNER LOSER
2013 MIAMI HEAT San Antonio Spurs
2010 LOS ANGELES LAKERS Boston Celtics
2005 SAN ANTONIO SPURS Detroit Pistons
1994 HOUSTON ROCKETS New York Knicks
1988 LOS ANGELES LAKERS Detroit Pistons
1984 BOSTON CELTICS Los Angeles Lakers

THE NBA FINALS- MIAMI 95, SAN ANTONIO 88- Heat wins series 4-3

Okay, so maybe most folks/experts believed the Spurs were a dead-in-the-water item even before Game 7 tipped off considering what happened there late in Game 6 but San Antonio did play hard last night but it didn't always play smart nor did it exactly have "legs" as evidenced by a wobbly 16-point first quarter and 17-point fourth quarter.

On the flip side, James- who did attempt a game-high 23 field-goal tries- didn't try to force the action early and thus had plenty in the tank late when many players on both teams were gassed big-time in the final quarter. The best things you could say about James here is Game 7 is that he didn't panic, he stroked many of his mid-range jumpers and he really looked good shooting his three-balls as "The King" netted half of his 10 triple tries.

Toss into the mix the fact that- rather quietly- James canned all eight of his free throws and only committed two turnovers in 45 minutes of game action. No doubt James was the slam-dunk MVP here but in a game in which Dwayne Wade stepped up (at times) en route to a 23-point, 10-rebound performance it was X-factor Shane Battier who really plunged the dagger into Spurs' hearts with his 6-of-8 shooting performance from beyond the arc en route to a starry 18-point game.

Here's two questions that we would have liked answered at the end of this game (and note San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich was more pleasant with the media after the Game 7 loss but still didn't answer a whole lot of juicy questions):

Number one, why did San Antonio allow so much "cushion" for both James and Battier to shoot here- especially after both showed they had hot hands- and why didn't San Ant do more to free up Parker who was shadowed much of the night by the taller/stronger James?

Okay, so maybe you can't have teams screening James all over the floor but the crisp ball movement that existed for San Antonio through much of the first five games in this series was missing and Parker (3-of-12 FG shooting for 10 points in 37 minutes plus one more strange/brief benching late in Game 7) didn't have much energy but on a night when Duncan goes for a born-again stat line of 24 points with 12 rebounds and second-year stud Kawhi Leonard cranks out 19 points and 16 points you would have to call that a "winnable" game.

More Manu Ginobili turnovers hurt the cause- yes, he looked old at times in Game 7 but even the 36-year Argentine managed a solid 18 points and 5 assists- and Danny Green disappeared here while nailing just 1-of-12 FGs including a mere one made triple but than again we told you throughout this best-of-seven series that the Spurs basically needed double-digit treys every game if they were gonna win and Game 7 produced an ultra-sluggish 6-of-19 shooting night from beyond the arc (that's a 31.6 percent accuracy rate).

Simply put, the Spurs needed someone outside of the core to spark 'em and nobody did- while Battier was a bacon-saver for Miami and the simple math will tell you that if he missed half of his eight treys this game could have had a different winner with the bounce of the ball here or there for the Spurs.
It was Game 6 that doomed San Antonio- but Duncan's missed "bunny" that nailed the coffin shut and great teams always make you pay for those mistakes/errors:

Now, here's Miami knowing full well that it won a title with a very much imperfect team- heck, Game 6 hero Chris Bosh didn't even score in Game 7!- and one that wore down throughout the past two rounds of playoff action.

At times Wade looked shot and Bosh looked slow. At times PG Mario Chalmers was a "human turnover" with a rotten shooting touch to boot and there were reserves who were kept on the bench for full games at a time here in these Finals ... go ask Chris "The Birdman" Andersen and Udonis Haslem.

Oh, things could have been real different in this year's NBA Playoffs/NBA Finals but all the record book cares about is that next line in the book ...

The 2013 champions are the Miami Heat. Hardly perfect. A little lucky too.

But kings of the NBA hill this morning, this afternoon, this evening and all summer long.

Here's our last look in chart form on just how this 7-game NBA Finals series between the Spurs-Heat went down (note the home team in CAPS):

DATE

WINNER

SPREAD

LOSER

SCORE

6-6

San Antonio

+ 5

MIAMI

92-88

6-9

MIAMI

- 6.5

San Antonio

103-84

6-11

SAN ANTONIO

- 2

Miami

113-77

6-13

Miami

- 1

SAN ANTONIO

109-93

6-16

SAN ANTONIO

PK

Miami

114-104

6-18

MIAMI

- 7

San Antonio

103-100 (ot)

6-20

MIAMI

- 5.5

San Antonio

95-88

The NBA Finals- and thus the whole 2012-13 NBA season- is officially in the books but that doesn't mean Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will stop the winning! There's plenty of Major-League Baseball daily winners coming your way when you check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Plus, the Football Season isn't that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August- can't wait!

NOTE: There's NBA Draft and MLB News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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