In Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals from American Airlines Arena in Miami, we were reminded that the battle between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat is a marathon, not a sprint. While Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich would have liked the series to be a sprint in his team’s favor, the Heat’s Erik Spoelstra had other plans in mind.
For the first 24 minutes, it was a back-and-forth, edge-of-your-seat hardwood thriller. A Miami punch, then a San Antonio counter-punch. A Mario Chalmers three from the wing, a Tim Duncan bucket at the rim. Finally, the Spurs took control in the closing minutes of the first half with a 17-4 run, giving them a 50-44 advantage at the break. Duncan led all scorers at halftime with 25 points.
We want more! We want more!
At the start of the second half, things got interesting. As San Antonio began to pull away in the third period, many believed the game was becoming lopsided. Kawhi Leonard helped push the Spurs’ lead to double digits late in the third quarter. It was going to take a remarkable effort from the Heat’s “Big Three” in the final 12 minutes as they faced a 10-point deficit and a season-ending defeat on their home floor.
That effort is exactly what they got.
LeBron James continuously banged away in the low post against Leonard, Tony Parker and Duncan, Miami was in the midst of a rally, and a furious one at that.
San Antonio defenders were giving James open jump shots, but he refused to give in. Using all of his 6’8″ and 260-pound frame, James made basket after basket – including a couple slams – to help Miami gain a two-point edge late in the contest.
Following a San Antonio timeout, it was crunch time. It was a battleground in South Beach. Whatever Popovich said to his Spurs team in the huddle, it worked. As Miami stretched the lead to three, Parker followed with a huge trey-ball and then got a driving layup to go for a San Antonio momentum swing. The pressure was now squarely on the Heat.
A few turnovers in the final minute by the Heat made it look like the game was over and Miami’s season was in the dumps. Fans began to exit the building as the Spurs held a 94-89 advantage. Suddenly, a James and Ray Allen both hit impossibly clutch threes to tie things up with 5.2 seconds remaining, sending Game 6 to overtime.
We want more!
LeBron and the Heat continued onward, pulling out the 103-100 victory and sending the 2013 NBA Finals to Game 7 on Thursday in South Florida. It was what most observers expected from a Heat squad facing elimination and a Spurs team looking to win its fifth NBA championship.
On Thursday night, we get more.