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Breaking down the Heat’s Game 6 comeback over Spurs

Jun 19, 2013, 1:18 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 6 Getty Images

MIAMI — For all intents and purposes, the game was over. Except that it wasn’t.

The Heat trailed Game 6 of the Finals by five with under 30 seconds to play, and fans in Miami began streaming for the exits. Arena staffers in yellow shirts lined the baselines and the court across from the team benches, holding a yellow rope that would be used to close off access to fans once the championship trophy presentation was underway for the Spurs.

But a furious Heat comeback, along with a collapse by the Spurs and some borderline coaching decisions canceled all that, and now we’re looking at a Game 7 on Thursday that will decide the championship once and for all.

Let’s take a look back at exactly how it happened over the final couple of minutes of regulation.

89-89, 1:27 — The three-pointer that Tony Parker hit over LeBron James — a step-back, high-arcing rainbow that caught nothing but the bottom of the net — that tied the game for his Spurs would have gone down as one of the all-time great shots had his team hung on for victory. Parker set it up beautifully with a hesitation dribble, and James wisely defended the drive, yet still managed to get out and contest.

91-89 Spurs, 0:58 — Parker continued to try to take over, first by stealing a pass in the lane from Mario Chalmers on the defensive end, then by using his wizardry to score inside. Parker drove, spun, and hit a shot from about 10 feet out that put his team up two, and sent the Miami faithful in the building into a state of stunned silence.

94-89 Spurs, 0:28 — LeBron James turned it over on consecutive Heat possessions, and Manu Ginobili made three of four free throws to give San Antonio the five-point lead. The second of these from James was particularly egregious, as he floated a high lob at the rim intended for Chris Bosh, except that Bosh didn’t bother to jump for it, and even if he had, it would have been an extremely difficult play to convert given the trajectory of the pass.

94-92 Spurs, 0:20 — This is when the Heat went into desperation mode, but the Spurs’ lineup choices ended up helping Miami’s chances. James launched a three that rimmed out, but with Tim Duncan on the bench in favor of Boris Diaw and the defense he could provide on LeBron (along with the fact that the plan late was to switch on all screens, which makes Duncan a liability), the Spurs were short on big bodies to secure the defensive rebounds that could have sealed the game. Dwyane Wade was able to get in there and keep the ball alive, and the sequence ended with James getting another crack at a three that he was able to get to go this time.

“It’s what we’ve done all year,” Duncan said afterward. “In a situation where we were going to switch a lot of things, and it’s just unfortunate the way it happened. We got a stop, and we got a bad bounce, and right out to Ray Allen for a three. Just situational. But there’s no questions there. It’s the plays we’ve been making all season long.”

“Me personally, I trust Pop,” Parker added. “Whatever decision he makes.”

95-95, 0:05 — After the Heat fouled to stop the clock, Kawhi Leonard converted only one of his two free throws, leaving the door open for Miami’s fantastic finish. James missed an open look at a three, but once again with the Spurs having a shortage of big men on the floor with Duncan on the bench, Chris Bosh was able to secure the rebound, and kick it to Ray Allen for the incredible game-tying shot.

James was open and screaming for the ball once he saw his teammate get the rebound, but he was obviously fine with the play’s end result.

“If it’s not me taking the shot, I have no problem with Ray taking that shot, man,” James said. “He’s got ice water in his veins. Ray can be 0‑for‑99 in a game and if he get an open look late in the game, it’s going down. That’s just the confidence he has in himself. It’s the preparation that he prepares for every game. It’s the confidence that we have in him. We’ve seen it before.”

  1. runthepicketfence - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Kawhi Leonard looked like a scared 3rd grader when he stepped to the line last night. He makes both of those and this series is over. Good work Leonard – you’re a professional basketball player and you can’t make a wide open 15 footer with no one guarding you. I’ll never understand poor free throw shooting in the NBA.

    • Kurt Helin - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      Leonard shot 82.5 percent on free throws this season.

      • DonRSD - Jun 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        62.5% in the playoffs :)

  2. pmx8411 - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    I’ll break it down cause i watched the game twice lol…..Spurs got hot at the end of third, LBJ lost his headband around 9:01 in the 4th and he made a run, WADE came back in for Miller and the Spurs made a run and then Ray Allen happened and OT and off we go to GAME 7….AWESOME!!!!!

  3. azarkhan - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Kahwi Leonard is a 21 year old kid playing in his first NBA Finals and he was again outstanding last night, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. I cannot blame him for missing a pressure-packed free throw in the final seconds of what was a physically and emotionally exhausting game.

  4. dolphindubs - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:15 PM


    I CAN! He earns a paycheck just like every other player in the league, so he needs to be held just as accountable. What? If a 24 year old surgeon botches a surgery, are we just supposed to let him off the hook because of lack of experience and youth? Nope. He should suffer the same consequence as a 56-year-old surgeon with tons of experience.

    Leonard choked on that free throw plain and simple. Choked!

    • savvybynature - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      Did you just compare a basketball game to surgery?

      You sir, are an idiot.

  5. dolphindubs - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    82.5%. Thats pretty darn good. Which means he’s a pretty darn good free throw shooter. So why did he miss? CHOKE!

    Look at what I’ve become… picking on a kid for missing a free throw. All these anti-Heat, anti-LeBron comments must be getting to me. Damn you haters! Damn you to hell!!!

    • magicfanintn - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      Uhh, free throws aren’t automatic. That’s why they make the player shoot them instead of just giving points for fouls.

  6. cwilson6843 - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Hey he missed. It happens i won’t say anything about it. Cuz my boy LeBron is not the greatest free throw shooter either. But either way great win for Miami and tons of momentum heading into game 7 after winning a grinded out all the way to the finish game. Lets hope its carries over to game 7. If mia win or lose I’ll be satisfied that none of these teams layed down or ever quit. Forget all the hater comments blaming the refs for this win. In these situations the player makes his own fate. Just ask MJ after his clutch shot when he clearly shoved the defender 10 feet back. Hats off to both of these teams. Truly amazing

  7. DonRSD - Jun 19, 2013 at 3:26 PM


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