Rewind: 2013 NBA Finals—Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs


In over 50 years of the NBA, there has been plenty of incredible matchups and storylines. Despite this history, it is difficult to argue against the 2013 NBA finals as one of the all-around best series’ ever played. This battle between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs was filled with legends of the league as well as then-rising superstars that are still competing at a high level today. With help from remarkably clutch shots and pressure-packed games, the 2013 NBA Finals will go in the record books as arguably the greatest of all time. 

On paper, this series was a bullfight before the first tip-off. The Spurs were no strangers to the finals, having had tremendous success in the previous decade with the likes of veterans Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and Tim Duncan; Head Coach Gregg Popovich was also a world-renowned coach as he led his squad to yet another finals appearance. With the help of role players such as lockdown defender Kawhi Leonard, lethal shooter Danny Green, and big men Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter, the Spurs had the perfect recipe to add to their treasured trophy case. 

On the other hand, the Miami Heat were considered the favorites. The league’s best player LeBron James and his all-star supporting cast of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh made Miami an unstoppable force in any game that they played. Having won the finals in the previous season, the “Big Three” was looking to repeat as world champions. Rounding out the rest of the Heat rotation was long-time NBA all-star and deadly shooter Ray Allen, along with consistent rebounding threat Udonis Haslem. Bench players such as Norris Cole and Shane Battier also gave Miami solid minutes each game and contributed mightily to its success. The matchup of experience versus talent was set; both organizations looked to stand alone as the best team in the league.  

Headed into the series, a particular question loomed over the Spurs: how were they going to contain LeBron James? The best bet for San Antonio was to put youngster Kawhi Leonard on the reigning MVP, sparking extreme doubt for any hopes of shutting down LeBron. However, the Spurs’ strategy was successful in game one, holding James to 18 points and beating the Heat 92-88, thanks to an extremely clutch shot by Tony Parker in the final ten seconds to ice the game. Considering that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had been scoring 25-30 points a game in plenty of examples that season, the ability to hold the “Big Three” to less than 50 points combined was major for San Antonio. In game two, Miami did not need an explosion from its superstars, as point guard Mario Chalmers led all scorers with 19 points. A steady game from James and Wade and a double-double from Bosh proved to be enough for the Heat to win 103-84, tying up the series as the scene shifted to San Antonio.

As the superstars were putting up consistent numbers every game, it was crucial for both teams to be given production from the role players. In game three, the Spurs did just that. Danny Green made seven total three-pointers and finished with 27 points along with Gary Neal, usually a bench player, who scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds. This allowed San Antonio to cruise to an astounding 113-77 victory. Down 2-1, LeBron James and his squad responded well. Both LeBron and Dwyane Wade collectively boasted 66 points and 20 rebounds in game 4, securing a 109-93 win for the Heat to tie the series at two games apiece. Two nights later, San Antonio was able to defend home court in its last home game of the season. Tony Parker, Danny Green, and Manu Ginobli all had at least twenty points in a series-defining triumph by a score of 114-104. 

Headed back to Miami, the Heat were on the brink of elimination. High-strung and hopeful, the team fought incredibly hard in a back-and-forth game six. LeBron James matched a thirty-point outing from Tim Duncan with a thirty-two point triple-double of his own. Despite this storied performance, Miami was facing defeat in the final minute of the game. With help from multiple missed free throws by the Spurs, the Heat cut the deficit to 3 points with under fifteen seconds remaining. After a missed three-pointer by Lebron James, Chris Bosh seized a monumental offensive rebound and found Ray Allen in the corner. With less than 5 seconds to shoot, Allen had no choice but to heave an off-balanced shot from just behind the three-point line. Allen nailed the shot, tying the game and sending it to overtime. This shot by Ray Allen saved Miami’s season and is arguably the most clutch shot in NBA finals history. Gaining full momentum from Allen’s heroics, the Heat snatched the lead in overtime and never looked back, winning game 6 in remarkable fashion.

Just one night removed from pulling off an unbelievable comeback, the NBA season came down to a single game. Trying to recover their wits from the shocking loss, the Spurs jumped out to an early lead. Rallying behind Tim Duncan, San Antonio went into halftime up by 8. Regardless, league MVP LeBron James was too much to handle. On the heels of a thirty-seven point performance by James, Miami captured the second-half lead and held on to win its second consecutive league championship. 

The high-octane nature of this series highlighted by unforgettable plays and legendary moments truly showcased the beauty of basketball. Although both teams struggled, the series did not disappoint in any way. The 2013 NBA finals—without a doubt—will go in the history books as one of the greatest, most competitive matchups of all time.