In San Antonio, the proximity to a fifth title will be the legacy of the 2013 NBA Finals.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the San Antonio Spurs are the fourth team in NBA History to blow a 2-1 and 3-2 series lead in the NBA Finals, joining the 1962 Lakers, 1969 Lakers and 1978 Sonics.
Naturally, a post-mortem analysis focuses on what went wrong against the Miami Heat
Benching Parker down the stretch
The losses in Game 6 and 7 shared the curious absence of Tony Parker in crunch-time offensive situations.
In Game 7, Parker remained on the bench coming out of a fourth-quarter timeout with the Spurs down by four and 27 seconds remaining. Again, Ginobili turned the ball over.
Would things have gone differently if Gregg Popovich left his best playmaker on the court?
That will remain the great unknown. But it is also worth mentioning Parker’s struggles. He was held scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting on his seven drives and did not create any points for his teammates on drive-and-kicks.
Danny Green hits a wall
Going into Game 6, Green was the likeliest candidate for Finals MVP if the Spurs captured the title. In five games, he’d set an NBA Finals record with 25 3-point field goals, while leading the team with 18 PPG.
That’s when it all fell apart for Green. He went from San Antonio’s most effective offensive weapon into a deep slump.
Green went 2-for-19 (10.5 percent) over the final two games, at one point missing 13 straight shots. Despite his woes, Green played a combined 78 minutes.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his 1-for-12 performance on Thursday made him just the second player in NBA Finals history to take at least 12 shots in a Game 7 and make one or fewer. The other was Dennis Johnson, who went 0-for-14 for the SuperSonics in 1978 against the Bullets.
Amidst all of the possible second-guessing of Spurs' decisions, it’s impossible to overlook the impact of LeBron James.
Consider that in the final two games of the series, James averaged 34.5 points, 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists. His 37 points on Thursday, matched Tom Heinsohn’s record for points in a Game 7 win.
LeBron James Outside the Paint
The Spurs’ defense is content to allow long and mid-range jumpers. That strategy largely succeeded against LeBron in the first six games. In Game 7, James capitalized.
James was 9-of-20 (45.0%) on field goals outside the paint in Game 7, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. James attempted 87% of his field goals in Game 7 from outside the paint (49% in Games 1-6), his highest rate since joining the Heat.