The King is still alive–barely! LeBron James and the Miami Heat forced a Game 7 in the NBA Finals with a stirring 103-100 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night to retain, at least momentarily, their tenuous reign as league champions. The series finale will be played tonight (Thursday) in Miami.
While their comeback from a 75-65 deficit to begin the fourth quarter revealed admirable heart and resilience, the Heat proved beyond a logical argument that they are anything but a push-button team. What they are is a collective that feeds off the superior ability of James, who willed them into overtime and ultimately to victory. James’ intensity and determination in the fourth on both ends of the court, during which he scored 16 of his 32 points, was the impetus for the Heat outscoring the Spurs 30-20 in the period.
“This was by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” said James. “To be a part of something like this is something you’ll never be able to re-create once you’re done playing the game.”
There were a multitude of late plays that can be attributed as crucial to the Heat’s win. Notably, two by the Spurs’ sparkling 21-year-old forward Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, who had an exceptional 22-point, 11-rebound performance, missed one of two free throws with 19 seconds remaining that would have put the Spurs up by four. He subsequently failed to box out Heat forward Chris Bosh–a mistake that led to Bosh corralling a James misfire and kicking it out to Ray Allen for a game-tying 3-pointer with a little under six seconds remaining in regulation.
However, Heat forward Manu Ginobili, after a superlative 24-point contribution in the Spurs’ 114-104 win in Game 5 on Sunday–which came on the heels of ineffective outings in the previous four games–committed eight careless turnovers, and his team was minus-21 when he was on the floor.