Greatest Game 7 Moments in Heat and Spurs History
Game 7 is upon us, as two franchises who have experienced a ton of success in the past 15 years vie for one more title to add to the list.
Of course, this won't be the first time that either team has faced a Game 7, although it will be the first time that the MIami Heat have been involved in an NBA Finals winner-take-all contest.
However, you could say that they have the most recent experience in a single-game series, as they played in a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers in the last two seasons.
The San Antonio Spurs haven't found themselves playing a win-or-go-home game since the 2008 Western Conference Semifinals against the New Orleans Hornets, which they won pretty convincingly.
Going even further back, we get to see the likes of George Gervin, Tim Hardaway, Robert Horry and Alonzo Mourning coming up big for either team.
So let's take an amazing trip down memory lane and knock out the seven best Game 7 moments among these two teams.
Honorable Mention Worst Moment
History hasn't been very kind to the rivalry that the Miami Heat and New York Knicks shared in the late 1990s, and it's really a shame considering some of the magnificent series that the two played against each other.
These two teams really had everything going for them to be rivals; Pat Riley coaching against his former pupil, Jeff Van Gundy; Alonzo Mourning taking on Patrick Ewing, and Tim Hardaway taking on a combination of John Starks, Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell.
Starting in 1997, the Knicks and Heat would meet at various moments throughout the playoffs in the East for the next four years, and play in two seven-game series.
Perhaps the most memorable of the two is the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals, when the Heat needed a single shot to fall in order to take the win and move on to the conference finals.
With the Knicks up 83-82, shots from Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, and of course Clarence Weatherspoon didn't fall, and Sprewell ended up with the ball and was falling out of bounds.
The Heat felt that Spreewell never asked for the timeout, but was rewarded it anyway. Without that, he would have fallen out of bounds and the Heat would have had one final chance.
Unfortunately for them, things didn't swing their way, and they were left out of yet another chance to move deep into the playoffs.
7. Shaq's Near-Throwback
A team doesn't necessarily have to win a game in order for a player's game to be considered memorable, although it definitely helps.
Miami and the Detroit Pistons were vying for the chance to take on the Spurs in the 2005 NBA Finals in a do-or-die Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
In the middle of the low-scoring, hard-hitting defensive era that was the early 2000s, interior defense from Shaquille O'Neal and Ben Wallace headlined the entire series.
At 32, Shaq was visibly slower, chunkier and less explosive around the rim, but that didn't keep him from attempting to take the Heat onto his back in Game 7, even after Miami lost 91-66 in Game 6.
He padded 27 points with nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks, plus he made three of his six free throws.
Damon Jones missed huge free throws with seconds left in the game, sending Miami into foul mode. Chauncey Billups hit his freebies, and a stellar game from Shaq was lost, as was the season.
6. They Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
LeBron James has played smart over the past two seasons. Rather than make the final game of series the most closely contested of the seven, he does the hard work in Game 6 and the Heat coast to big wins in closeout games.
If you'll recall, the most memorable performance of last season's playoffs was LeBron's 45-point, one-on-five explosion during Game 6 against the Boston Celtics. He absolutely shut down Boston Garden, and took every hint of wind from Boston's sails.
His cannon knocked a big hole in the side of their ship, but it seemed as if the Celtics knew what was coming in the final game of the series.
It was close throughout the first three quarters, but LeBron knocked in 11 points in the fourth and the Celtics were outscored by 13 in the final period.
The outcome never really seemed in doubt as James coasted to a 31-point, 12-rebound night, sending his team to the NBA Finals for the second season in a row.
5. LeBron Closes out Again
Call it deja vu all over again, as the Heat coasted to a win over the Indiana Pacers in their seven-game series this season.
Much like the game against Boston, this one was never really in doubt. Only, instead of pulling away in the fourth quarter, LeBron and the Heat pulled away with a 33-16 second quarter.
Indiana was playing catchup for the rest of the game, only they remained without a consistent scorer, giving the Heat a 99-76 win.
In the process, LeBron piled on 32 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.
4. The Iceman Cometh
George Gervin's San Antonio Spurs made it to the conference finals three different times, but were never able to break free and move into the finals.
One of the most memorable occasions in which they failed came in 1979, with his Spurs playing in back-to-back seven-game series.
The Iceman took on the first Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers and came away with the win over his former ABA counterpart Julius Erving. Gervin scored 33 to Erving's 34, but the Spurs won and moved on.
A hard-fought series against the Washington Bullets yielded yet another Game 7, in which Gervin carried an even bigger load.
Gervin scored 42 points, and the Spurs were ahead by six points going into the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, Bobby Dandridge hit a 12-footer with eight seconds (part of his 37 points) left to give the Bullets the win, and the series.
3. 41 Isn't Enough
When talking about the severely understated rivalry between Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki, three playoff games pop up as the best tit-for-tat nights between the two.
First came in 2001 during the second round as Dirk's 42 dwarfed Duncan's 32, but San Antonio pulled away and won by nearly 20 points.
Next was in 2003, when Duncan scored 40 to Dirk's 38 in the first game of the Western Conference Finals. San Antonio lost that game, but won the series and went on to win the NBA Championship.
The third, and perhaps most memorable, was Game 7 in the second round of the 2006 playoffs.
Dirk walked away with 37 points and 15 rebounds, Duncan countered with 41 points, 15 rebounds (six offensive), six assists and three blocks.
Just two points from the bench doomed the Spurs, however, as the Mavs won the game in overtime, and went on to the conference finals, eventually making it to the NBA Finals.
2. Tim Hardaway's Best Ever?
26 seconds into this recap of the 1997 Game 7 between the Heat and Knicks, Tim Hardaway crosses over Chris Childs. If that doesn't force you to sit through the next seven minutes, then nothing will.
That's really what the final game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals was: Hardaway at his very best.
Well, I suppose Patrick Ewing did have 37 points and 17 rebounds, but that was almost a footnote in a game where the Heat jumped out to a 17-point lead at halftime and never looked back.
Sure, they gave up a bit of a run in the fourth quarter as the Knicks tried to scare them a bit, but it was never a real threat.
It's probably a pretty good bet to say that if not the best, this was at least one of Hardaway's five best games of his career.
38 points was his most ever in a playoff game (and just seven off his most in any game), and for good measure he dropped in seven assists, three rebounds and five steals.
In the process he made six of his 10 three-pointers, looking very much like Stephen Curry as he dribbled up the court, pulled up and dropped them in with a defender in his face.
From start to finish, his performance was jaw-dropping.
1. Manu Ginobili's '05 Closeout
After an atrocious Game 6 made us wonder where the good times have gone with Manu Ginobili, it seems like a good time to look back into the past and remember his peak.
Back in 2005, the Spurs were matched up against the reigning NBA Champion Detroit Pistons, and going into a Game 7 in San Antonio.
With the score tied 57-57 going into the fourth quarter (holy defense, Batmanu!), it was down to 12 minutes to decide the 2005 champs.
Tim Duncan had just scored 12 of San Antonio's 19 third-quarter points to tie the game following a one-point halftime deficit, and he started off with a tie-breaking jumper in the fourth.
Aside from another two from Duncan, and a three-pointer from Bruce Bowen, Ginobili and Robert Horry did the rest of the work.
Ginobili scored nine of San Antonio's final 12 points, driving to the rim mercilessly to earn free throws, and knocking down a huge three-pointer along the way.
With his hair blowing triumphantly in the wind, Manu took the Spurs to victory in 2005, even if Duncan did end up winning the Finals MVP Award.