To cap one of the best NBA Finals in league history, the Miami Heat needed every bucket they could muster against a San Antonio Spurs team that didn't have enough in the tank to take a Game 7 on the road.
Down the stretch, the Spurs got key baskets from nearly everyone on the court, as they reached to the bottom of the barrel for every last bit of tenacity, desire and grit they had. But a less than 100% Tony Parker couldn't do much more than push the ball and drop it off.
Manu Ginobili had a better game than Game 6, but not as good as his excellent Game 5, and he mixed excellent work with the ball in transition and great defensive plays with the bad turnovers that marked his entire postseason.
Kawhi Leonard had another incredible game and showed, time and again, just how large a part of this team's success he's going to be in the future. In a number of sequences when the Spurs were hurting for offensive production, the 2nd year player took over possessions, posted up, drove the lane, and hit from the outside. His defense and rebounding were again stellar as he played on the national stage without shrinking from a single moment.
Tim Duncan played so well, but in a key possession with the Spurs down by two, he wasn't able to take advantage of Shane Battier guarding him; just missing a driving layup and not able to get his hand cleanly on his tip-in attempt. After the Heat controlled the rebound, and very little time remaining in the game, a visibly upset Duncan uncharacteristically slammed his hand to the hardwood as Miami brought the ball up the court. It was so difficult to watch such a fantastic player unable to make the play he'd made countless times before, and live out the realization that he'd missed his opportunity -- as the entire world watched.
That's the way this season ended, with the Miami Heat rising to the occasion, and a generous Gregg Popovich congratulating one Heat player after another with hugs, smiles and many a pat on the shoulder. It was difficult to watch the team lose, but as soon as the game ended his reaction was an example of how the Spurs organization behaves with class and dignity. Let's do the same ourselves with any fans we encounter -- whether here on the website, or in person.
It's been a great season, £ers. Enjoy the summer, as we cover the draft, and summer league, and we'll get ready to do it all over again in the 2013-14 season. Come what may.