If you tuned out Game 6 of the NBA Finals early like some of the Miami Heat’s fans did by leaving the stadium early thinking the San Antonio Spurs secured another title than shame on you. You missed not only one of the best comebacks and games in NBA Finals history, but the history of the NBA with a sure-fire classic between the Heat and Spurs that came down to the wire in a thrilling 103-100 Heat overtime victory.
The Spurs, who were only seconds away from their 5th title in five chances in the Tim Duncan and Greg Popovich era looked every bit like they were about to capture the title despite losing a once 13-point lead in the final minutes of the 4th. As they recaptured the lead by five with 28 seconds left in regulation starting on a steal and layup by Tony Parker at the 58 second mark of regulation before two more Miami turnovers and three free throws by Manu Ginobili gave the Spurs a 94-89 lead.
The Spurs were so close that LeBron James said he and his teammates noticed the officials already starting to bring the yellow tape and championship board out for the Spurs trophy presentation. James and the Heat had other ideas though, as he hit a three to cut their deficit to two and Kawhi Leonard only making one of two free throws for the Spurs put their lead at 95-92 with 19.4 seconds left to give Miami one last shot at tying it and keeping their season alive.
That set up a wide-open three that James missed before Chris Bosh got the rebound and passed it out to Ray Allen for a wide-open look of his own from long range that he nailed in the right corner to tie the game at 95 all with 5.2 left in regulation. The refs reviewed it to make sure it was a three, but as soon as it left Allen’s hands everyone knew it was good and clearly a three that would eventually send the game into overtime.
James may have missed the three to tie it, but he was a huge reason why the Heat ended up winning the game with his fourth career NBA Finals triple-double on 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. As he hit a go ahead basket to give the Heat a 101-100 lead in overtime they would never relinquish. This came after James had gone only 3-of-12 from the field after three quarters and Miami trailed by 10. He finished 11-of-26 though with his triple-double and huge fourth quarter, as well as overtime showing how much he matured from the last time the Heat were coming back home from Texas in an elimination game and 3-2 deficit in the NBA Finals at home in 2011.
That Heat team that was the first year of their Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh for Miami was nowhere near as mentally tough as this one. Especially James, who disappeared in so many fourth quarters in that series and especially Game 6 where the Dallas Mavericks blew out Miami so badly to capture the title on Miami’s home court. James was so clutch in the fourth of this game that you would never even think that he was only a quarter away from hearing all the normal ridicules again for failing to get things done and seeing another opponent celebrate a Finals victory on his home court.
Now James and the Heat forced the two greatest words in sports, “Game 7.” A winner take-all game with the series all even at three apiece that will take place on Thursday evening and with such a great game and series it has already been it’s only right it go to a seventh game to decide all the marbles and who is crowned the world champions. Now hopefully Thursday’s game can live up to be at least half as good as the Game 6 thriller was.