The 2013 NBA Finals was a basketball black hole that captivated every ounce of energy I had. It didn’t let me see anything else. All I saw was LeBron’s block on Tiago Splitter, Danny Green’s shooting barrage in Game 3, Ray Allen’s three-pointer in Game 6, and LeBron’s jump shot in Game 7. These great moments made it the greatest NBA Finals I have seen in some time. Legacies were furthered. Moments were instilled.
This was the Spurs first “mega” Finals, a chance for Parker, Duncan and Ginobili to play in front of an audience that wouldn’t roll their eyes out of boredom. They had an opponent who brought the ratings. They just had to bring their “A” game. Both teams did just that and it translated into a seven-game slugfest before the best player in the world dragged his team to victory. The audience bought into the hype. Game 6 was an ABC viewership record for a non-clinching game with 20.636 million, according to Nielsen. As it should’ve, the roller coaster ride of emotions this year coalesced with the two best teams meeting up in the Finals.
Before Game 1, most wanted to see if LeBron could get revenge after losing to the Spurs in 2007 with Cleveland. The Spurs were supposed to come out rusty, pundits citing the long layoff as a legitimate reason for a slow start. The storyline quickly moved to basketball after a marvelous Game 1 in Miami.
By the end, the narrative centered on Tony Parker’s ridiculous bank shot with the shot clock expiring. Parker was the star, completely dominating Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers, bullying them in the lane and utilizing his trademark floater. His ability to get into the lane made the ball movement of the Spurs look effortless and the pick-n-roll game with Duncan look vintage. The forgotten play of this game was Duncan’s buzzer-beater at the end of the first half, which dented the Heat’s lead to three and deafened some of their momentum.
Some interesting stats from that game were the zero points that Dwyane Wade scored in the fourth quarter and the four turnovers that the Spurs had, tying a Finals record.
In Game 2, the Heat had 13 fast-break points and caused 16 turnovers, 12 more than they did in Game 1. The extra possessions allowed the Heat to slash-n-kick, scoring 46 points in the paint while shooting 52.6 percent from three-point range. Duncan admitted the Heat played better and were able to finish quarters better than the Spurs. That was the key as the Heat went on a 14-3 run at the end of the third to go up 10 going. To cap things off, James blocked Splitter as he rumbled through the lane, trying to throw down a one-handed dunk. The Heat would go on to win this one by 19.
So that was the real Heat, right? The rest of the series would be a coronation? Some analysts believed it. Boy, were they wrong. Back home, the Spurs came out shooting and didn’t stop until the scoreboard showed they’d won by 36 points. Traffic couldn’t even stop them. It was James’ worst game of the Finals. He scored only 15 points. Gary Neal and Danny Green combined to go 13-for-19 from three-point range. Yet the biggest play of this game might have come when Parker aggravated his right hamstring in the first half, limiting him for the rest of the Finals.