The San Antonio Spurs' postseason run has been full of excitement, and now, with just one game remaining in the 2013 NBA Finals, more excitement is on the horizon.
Both the Spurs and the Miami Heat have executed beautifully, and their final showdown in Game 7 Thursday night in Miami has the makings to be an instant classic following Miami's scintillating 103-101 overtime win in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
But while the final, upcoming highlight will be the defining moment of San Antonio's season, the Spurs' journey to the championship bout has seen its fair share of excitement, with individual moments that will forever be etched into the minds of Spurs fans and NBA fans alike.
First Round: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers
For those who don't remember—and believe me, it's easy to forget—the Spurs' opening playoff series came against the Los Angeles Lakers, though the L.A. squad that took the court hardly resembled the Lakers of the regular season.
Plagued by injury, the shorthanded team from Tinseltown went down without a fight. Their regular-season campaign was sub-par considering all of their preseason hype, though it hardly compared to their utter defeat suffered against San Antonio.
Without Kobe Bryant to orchestrate L.A.'s attack, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan stifled any opportunity for an upset as the Spurs rolled to a sweep.
Considering the overall lack of competition from Los Angeles' part, San Antonio's effort can simply be defined by its victory in Game 3. In their 120-89 beatdown of L.A., the Spurs were able to hand their shorthanded opponents their worst home loss in franchise history.
The entire game can be summarized in one play.
In the opening minutes, a pass from Danny Green, whose rise to fame did not include tremendous distributing abilities, was caught in mid-air by Duncan, who effortlessly redirected it into the basket.
Alley-oops are routine in just about every other basketball city, but catching a glimpse of one in San Antonio is rare. Known as a team predicated on the fundamentals, such displays of athleticism are often substituted for layups.
Not that night.
Though the basket only counted for two points, its rarity made a statement. Even in the most uncommon of circumstances, the Spurs were able to execute, eventually leading to one of the most one-sided series in franchise history.
Second Round: San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors
Beating the Golden State Warriors proved to be more difficult than their previous opponent, but San Antonio fared well, nonetheless. Along with the increased level of competition came an increased atmosphere of excitement.
And boy, was it exciting.
The opening game didn't have much promise at first. San Antonio fell behind early at the hands of Stephen Curry and his tremendous shooting ability, but with three minutes to go, the Spurs countered Golden State's attack, gaining momentum and cutting into the deficit one shot at a time. A Green three-point shot capped the near-20 point comeback as San Antonio sent the game into overtime.
However, neither team pulled away in the first overtime or the second.
The third extra period followed a similar beat until the final seconds when a three-pointer from Manu Ginobili sent San Antonio into a frenzy, along with a 1-0 series lead.
The shot itself was remarkable, but even more so was the Spurs' ability to complete a near-impossible comeback. The rest of the series unfolded in a similar fashion, with Golden State seemingly pulling away, only to watch the Spurs steal the final few games from under the Warriors' noses.
It's interesting to ponder what might have been the alternate ending had Ginobili's series-defining three-pointer fallen short in Game 1.
Western Conference Finals: San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
In the days leading up to the Western Conference Finals, most around the NBA expected the series to be a close, hard-fought battle between two evenly matched teams.
The Spurs quickly quelled that notion.
San Antonio blew out the Grizzlies in the opening game and never looked back. Though the final few contests weren't decided until the final quarter, the Spurs secured the series sweep, earning them an appearance in the NBA Finals.
As he had done throughout the entire postseason, Tony Parker carried San Antonio to the Game 4 victory that secured the Spurs' fate as the top team in the Western Conference.
To put it simply, the league's best point guard was nothing short of brilliant in the final game against Memphis where he notched 37 points on 15-for-21 shooting in the win as Parker silenced the final slew of critics.
In a performance that will go down as a highlight of his illustrious career, Parker continued to bring success to San Antonio, winning a bid to the Finals as a reward.
NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs
Parker's dominance continued in the NBA Finals following a masterful Game 1 performance. He struggled initially and was anything but spectacular up until the final quarter.
There, Parker again proved his status as a top player in the league.
With 10 of his 21 points coming in the final 12 minutes of action, Parker led San Antonio to the Game 1 win. His final dagger, an off-balance, buzzer-beating jump shot under LeBron James, will likely go down as one of the most incredible shots in Finals history.
The win allowed San Antonio to steal home-court advantage from Miami, and although the Spurs' lost the home-court advantage, Parker's fourth-quarter performance allowed the Spurs to take a much-needed lead to start the series.
Perhaps greater than Parker's play, however, has been that of Green.
The former D-League standout shot 5-for-5 from long range in Game 2 and then topped that with a remarkable 27 points in Game 3.
In Game 5, Green connected on his 24th three-pointer of the Finals, moving him past Ray Allen in the NBA record books.
The best, however, is yet to come with Game 7. The Spurs have one last chance for a memorable moment in their 2013 postseason run. Given the excitement leading up to the long-awaited contest, it's safe to say that they won't disappoint.