A classic NBA Finals Game 7 was within five points either way for more than 44 of 48 minutes Thursday, but Dwyane Wade and LeBron James knocked down the jumpers the Spurs had given them all series to seal a 95-88 win and second straight NBA championship.
Shane Battier’s scramble to box out Tim Duncan with 46 seconds left was just enough for a potential game-winning tip to rim out, and James’s final jumper with 27 seconds left and follow-up steal from Manu Ginobili four seconds later sealed the win.
James and Wade both had double-doubles and shot over 50 percent from the floor despite having to shoot over the Spurs who crowded the net. James had 37 points and 12 rebounds to claim his second straight Finals MVP, while Wade had 23 points, 10 rebounds and two big rejections to deliver Miami their third NBA title.
In addition to his box out in the closing minute, Battier hit six of eight three-pointers, usually off of drives from Wade or James that drew Spurs defenders into the paint.
However, the Spurs duo of future-Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan and second-year-developing-superstar Kawhi Leonard were almost their equal, as both registered double doubles as well to keep the game within five points either way for more than 44 of 48 minutes.
Duncan has 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Leonard added 19 points and 16 rebounds.
However, the Heat adjusted their defense to shut down the outside threat of Danny Green, who set an NBA Finals series record for three-pointers made through Game 5, but went one for 12 from the floor Thursday to finish two of 19 in the last two games.
Until the Heat stretched the lead the final 23 seconds, the game had been within five points either way for 44 minutes and three seconds, with the only short exceptions being the following:
Leonard drove to give the Spurs a 11-4 lead with 7:41 to go in the first quarter, and it took the Heat 83 seconds to get it back within five on LeBron James two free throws to make it 11-6.
James hit a three-pointer with 5:37 to go in the half to make it 33-27, and it took the Spurs 28 seconds to get it back within five on a Gary Neal bank shot three-pointer as the horn sounded to make it 33-30.
With 7:13 to play Wade hit an 18-footer to make it 71-65, and the Heat had the six point lead for 96 of 173 seconds until Ginobili hit a three-pointer with 4:20 to cut it back to 85-82.
Battier hit a three-pointer to make it 88-82 with 3:18 to play, but it took Tim Duncan just seven seconds to score at the other end to make it 88-84.
Finally, James hit two free throws with 23 seconds left to play to make it 94-88, and the Heat held on for the final 23 seconds for a 95-88 win.