Heat deliver a night to remember

Heat win the title in Game 7 against Spurs

Miami Heat star LeBron James talks about his toughest playoffs, his second ring and calls the Heat "an amazing team".

The jump shot from LeBron James went into the net with 27.9 seconds left and, as soon as it did, he pumped his fist with a winner's look, a champion's look, as the noise you'd only heard once before shook AmericanAirlines Arena.

San Antonio's season was finally fading, and the Heat's star was rising, again, in this 95-88 win in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

They won with LeBron scoring 37 points. They won with Dwyane Wade answering questions with 23 points. They won with Shane Battier making six 3-point shots — as many shots as he'd made in the previous six Finals games.

They won against a San Antonio team full of deserving Hall of Famers, who kept matching the Heat shot for shot Thursday night, moment for moment, until LeBron's jumper gave a four-point cushion.

They won.

Those are the two words that matter. Erik Spoelstra said the two greatest words in sports were, "Game 7?" Winning Game 7 makes it all the sweeter, all the better, the entire night a memory to embrace.

Every time the Heat tried to pull away in the fourth quarter, they answered right back. A bounce here, a mistake there. That was the sliver of difference. That's how you want to win a championship, being asked to be great and delivering greatness.

At one point late in the third quarter, Wade and LeBron scored 38 of the Heat's previous 43 points. That's a good starting recipe for success. But Thursday it was the only recipe, and it put the season on the cliff.

They needed something from a supporting player? Here came a couple to help. Battier made six 3-point shots. He had made just six shots in the first six Finals games.

Then there was Chris "Birdman" Andersen. He was an energy pill again this night. Rebounds. Blocks. Defense on Tim Duncan. He even took a charge on Manu Ginobili in the fourth quarter.

Do or be done, that was the drama of this night, in so many more ways than just the scoreboard. In some way, the future of the Big Three was at stake based on this outcome. In many ways, the legacy of this Heat era was.

For so many teams, failure wouldn't be making three straight Finals and coming out with one championship. But nothing about this Heat team has been normal from the time they came together three years ago, including this run through the spring.

They played 23 playoff games, and they were a Shakespeare play from the start, what with all the rising and falling action and the central figure of LeBron right to the end.

How even was this Game 7. At one point in the first half, both teams made 11 of 30 shots and were tied at 27. The margin of difference at the quarter breaks were two points, two points and one point.

For much of the entire series, the games, emotions and game scores didn't just swing back and forth. They careened wildly, like a man swinging from a ballroom chandelier.

Then came these final two games. Ray Allen hit a miracle shot to win one. They pressed to the end in this final one.

This one was harder. More taxing. Part of that was Indiana and San Antonio pushed them to the maximum seven games while only Boston did a year ago. Part was the attempt to repeat always is more difficult.

Dwyane Wade said the regular season, "just flew by. But the playoffs have been like Groundhog Day. And we're here until the last possible day in the NBA, until the last possible game."

"We've appealed the NBA to extend this series to a best-of-11,'' ABC commentator Mike Breen said.

It was that close, that much basketball fun. It will go down a Finals to remember in South Florida, one to embrace forever.

Midnight, Game 7, was their finest hour.

 

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