Congratulations to RPadholic and longtime Miami Heat season ticket holder 1ceman for his team’s 2012-2013 NBA Championship. While the level of play wasn’t as high as it was in game six, the drama and excitement were fantastic. There were many times when it looked like the Heat were going to run away with the game, but the Spurs kept fighting back and it was hotly contested up until the final minute. Here are some random thoughts on the final game of this NBA season, accompanied by some original photos from 1ceman.
It’s Good to Be King: LeBron James was fantastic last night. His jumper — particularly from three-point range — was deadly, he snagged some key rebounds, and he was the amazingly efficient player we marveled at for most of the season. While some will still question where he ranks among the all-time greats, few will question him being in the conversation. (This is the part where RPadholic bsukenyan writes a passionate argument about how the LeBron vs. Jordan argument is silly.)
Robin Returns: Dwyane Wade was surprisingly efficient and grabbed some monster rebounds too. Going into the game, people suggested that coach Spoelstra bench Wade so that James would have more space to work with and the Heat offense would flow better. Looking through the retroscope, that suggestion seems ridiculous.
Battier Killed It: To me, Battier was the difference maker. He saved his best game for last, going 6-for-8 from three-point range. After being mediocre or worse in the previous six games, Battier repeatedly stabbed daggers into the Spurs’ hearts. (I’m speaking metaphorically. Actual stabbings with actual daggers would have resulted in an arrest.)
Have You Seen These Boys?: For the second straight game, Danny Green and Gary Neal were awful. The pair shot a combined 3-for-19, going 2-for-9 on three-pointers. Given Tony Parker’s bad hamstring, the Spurs desperately needed a great performance from at least one of these players. Instead, they both delivered stinkers.
Scapegoats: The Twitterverse was all over Manu Ginobili in the fourth quarter, but the balding Argentinean had a very solid game until making some bad decisions at the very end. His final numbers were 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting, five assists, and three boards. Parker wasn’t very good, shooting 3-for-12 and dishing out four assists — poor numbers for a player some consider the best point guard in the league. In his defense, he has a bad wheel. Still, I wonder why he often gets a pass from sports journalists. Perhaps it’s his adorably squeaky voice…but that shouldn’t cancel out the negatives of him being French and sleeping with people’s wives. Oui? Non?
Leonard Part 6: It was fun watching Kawhi Leonard become a star on national television. The 21-year old appears to have a bright future. His defense and rebounding were great throughout the series, and his offense became a bigger and bigger part of the Spurs’ attack. I liked how coach Popovich had him bring up the ball every now and again in the first half. Part of it was out of necessity due to Parker’s bad leg, but part of it was a clever way to mix up looks. Instead of Parker and Ginobili bringing up the ball, it was surprising to see Leonard occasionally lead the attack. The Spurs should have a future all-star in Leonard. To borrow a phrase from Ghostbusters, he’s got the tools and he’s got the tallent. (This is the part where you say, “It’s Miller time!”)
Happy Gregg Popovich: Pop is generally regarded as a curmudgeon (though I personally think he’s deceptively hilarious) and a fierce competitor, so it was strange seeing him flash a genuine smile after his team lost the game. He looked happy to be part of a great series and warmly congratulated the Heat. I almost spit out my Coke Zero when I saw him give Dwyane Wade a kiss on the cheek.
The Future: It’s going to be interesting to watch how both teams do next year. The Eastern Conference was pretty terrible this year, but the Indiana Pacers are getting scary and Derek Rose will be back with the Chicago Bulls. Both teams gave the Heat hell in the playoffs. The Pacers were without
Hermione Danny Granger; he could return in a key role or be traded for a complementary player that fits better. It’s amazing that the Bulls were able to push the Heat, given Rose’s absence and other injuries. If the Bulls could challenge the Heat with effort, moxie, and great coaching, imagine what they’ll be able to do with Rose in the mix? While James will still be at the height of his powers, Wade’s banged up body will be another year older, Bosh’s RuPaul act is getting better (not a good thing), Battier should be done (dude tortured himself guarding power forwards most of the season), and Chalmers…will hopefully get hit by a car (in a non-lethal way).
The Spurs were old going into the playoffs. For most of the season, Ginobili looked like a player that should retire. The good news is that Leonard appears ready to take Manu’s place among the Spurs’ “big three” and Parker should be great once his leg heals up. Duncan has been written off before, but always seems to put together a season that makes his critics look silly. The bad news is that a healthy Oklahoma City Thunder team should beat them and there are a number of teams that should get better through free agency. Dwight Howard going to the Los Angeles Clippers or Houston Rockets would change the landscape of the Western Conference dramatically.
Your Take: Now it’s your turn! Kindly share your thoughts on game seven of the NBA Finals, as well as where the Heat and Spurs go from here.