“If you said September 29 when we started our trip going to China if we could decide this season with a Game 7 in our building, every single one of us take it,” coach Erik Spoelstra said (via USAtoday.com) in advance of Thursday game. “You know, they’re the [best] two words in team sports: Game 7.”
Thankfully, when he woke up this morning with the smell of champagne in his senses and the South Beach sun shining on his face, two other words came out sounding much better: world champs.
Pat Riley warned that the league better catch the Big 3 in their first year because there would be trouble once the Miami Heat got things going, and the architect couldn’t have been more right.
Miami managed to stumble their way to the 2011 NBA Finals through trial and error, and had their hearts broken by the Dallas Mavericks, only to come back a year later and slaughter the Oklahoma City Thunder. But with their erratic play in these playoffs, most people expected them to be one-and-done like a college basketball star, which would’ve been a tragic for a team that made multiple guarantees.
“Not one, not two, not three …”
The pundits said that Miami couldn’t pull out four wins with the Big 3 moonlighting as LeBron James and company. The San Antonio Spurs were too smart for that. And the critics were almost right — especially with Dwyane Wade dipping in and out superstar consciousness.
However, once Wade’s back hit the wall, he showed that he could still co-star in the league’s best team.
“They played Hall of Fame basketball tonight,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich about Wade and James from the postgame podium. “That’s some of the best basketball they both played at the same time throughout the entire playoffs.”
While James took his time getting started, Wade brought everything the team needed like he was determined not to let them look like a bust. He came out grabbing rebounds like the only one with energy, his jump shot was on and he even tried to put Tim Duncan in the rim on a dunk attempt. Then Mario Chalmers, James and Shane Battier decided to play — and play big.
James took what the Spurs gave him and was red-hot from 15-feet to the 3-point line. Add that to Battier having a Mike Miller game, and the Heat had finally won back-to-back games and back-to-back championships.
Now it’s official: the 27-game win streak actually means something.
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Richard Nurse is a Miami Heat columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr.