Heat's James and Wade pause during a break in play against the Spurs during Game 7 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami

NBA Finals Game 7 Spurs vs. Heat: Miami earns repeat title in dramatic Game 7

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The Miami Heat are back-to-back NBA Champions, but the San Antonio Spurs made them earn every last bit of it.

It was a hard-fought if not always pretty Game 7, but LeBron James finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds to lead Miami to a 95-88 win.

LeBron was rightfully named NBA Finals MVP. He earned that with a good series where he stepped up and played his best when his team needed it in the fourth quarter of Game 6 and all of Game 7. LeBron joins Michael Jordan and Bill Russell as the only players to win back-to-back MVPs and NBA titles in the same years.

This has been the most entertaining NBA Finals in years and that was due in large part to a Spurs team that never wilted under Miami’s pressure. Tim Duncan had 24 points, 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard had 18 and the Spurs as a team showed why they were one of the best teams of their generation. But in the end Tony Parker had to sit as he was gassed and Manu Ginobili made turnovers. Even the great Duncan missed a clean look to tie it late.

Miami had great games from LeBron and Dwyane Wade — 23 points as he attacked on two bad knees — and then the surprise performance from Shane Battier who had 18 points with an NBA Finals record 6 three pointers. But it was the pressure of the Heat defense that ended up getting them this series, they forced enough key turnovers and made enough plays to win.

And with that they carve out a little bit of NBA history as back-to-back champions.

 

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Here is our live blog from Game 7:

END OF REGULATION The Miami Heat are back-to-back NBA Champions. They had to earn it in one of the best NBA Finals we have seen in a long time.

END OF REGULATION MIAMI WINS 95-88.

:16.3 Fourth Quarter: Ginobili misses long three, desperate three. Wade gets rebound, fouled, hits one. 95-88 Miami.

:23.5 Fourth Quarter: LeBron hits both, 94-88 Heat.

:23.5 Fourth Quarter: Tony Parker on the bench and Manu Ginobili drove baseline and then threw a bad pass that LeBron steals. Terrible play by Manu.

:28 Fourth Quarter: If Game 6 taught us anything, it is that this game is not over.

:28 Fourth Quarter: LeBron with pull-up 18-footer gives Heat 92-88 lead.

:46 Fourth Quarter: Tim Duncan had a chance to tie, had smaller Battier on him in the block, spun to the lane and missed, then missed the tip in. Oh, what a chance. Heat lead 90-88 with the ball and a chance to really make this hard on the spurs.

1:35 Fourth Quarter: Chalmers fouled by Green on a drive (bad reach in by Green), missed both freebies. 90-88 Heat.

2:00 Fourth Quarter: Leonard has ice water in his veins, hits three. 90-88 Heat.

2:34 Fourth Quarter: Wade scores inside. Duncan misses. 90-85 Heat.

3:06 Fourth Quarter: Shane Battier with 18 points on 6-7 from three. That is an NBA Finals Game 7 record for threes. He is the role player who steps up.

3:06 Fourth Quarter: Duncan with an and-1 that is Bosh’s fifth foul. 88-85 Heat.

3:17 Fourth Quarter: Shane Battier with a corner three on a LeBron kickout.Heat by 6.

4:09 Fourth Quarter: Ginobili three made it 85-82 and Green had a chance to tie on a Heat turnover.

4:58 Fourth Quarter: Chris Bosh 0-5 for the game, but he has played good defense on Duncan. Thing is, Duncan still scores because he is a machine with 12 counter moves in the post. 83-79 Heat.

5:37 Fourth Quarter: LeBron James with 31 points on 19 shots. Dwyane Wade has added 20 playing on two bad knees. Together 51 points on 38 shots.

5:37 Fourth Quarter: Ginobili throws the ball into the first row, fifth turnover of the quarter for the Spurs, that will kill them. LeBron bucket makes it 83-77 Heat.

6:38 Fourth Quarter: 81-77 Heat. Spurs refuse to go away, helped a lot by Ginobili with 15.

7:34 Fourth Quarter: Common foul from Spurs on key play — Spurs fouled LeBron in back court as he passed to Wade, who had a clear path for a fast break… except Wade had fallen and would not have been able to make a play. Good call by refs, Wade would not have scored on that play.

8:34 Fourth Quarter: I’m going to go through withdrawals tomorrow with this series over. It has been that good.

8:34 Fourth Quarter: Battier misses three. Battier misses three. Kawhi Leonard has 13 rebounds already. 77-75 Heat.

9:42 Fourth Quarter: Birdman takes an offensive charge, gets an offensive rebound. Miami looks quicker and like they have more energy right now. LeBron free throws make it 77-73 Heat.

10:28 Fourth Quarter: That didn’t take long, Duncan and Parker back in. 76-73 Heat

11:05 Fourth Quarter: Battier with another three, 5-5 from deep. 75-71 Heat.

11:55 Fourth Quarter: Spurs stick with their rotation, rest Parker and Duncan to start fourth, Wade and LeBron in the game.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: Both teams shot 50 percent in the third quarter. They loosened up.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: 72-71 Heat. Manu Gimobili made an impressive driving layup, the Heat had five seconds and Chalmers drove and took a long straight-away three that he banked in just before the buzzer. Wild end to the quarter. Chalmers loves his buzzer beaters in big games.

:27 Third Quarter: Shane Battier with his fourth three of the night ties it, 69-69.

1:33 Third Quarter: Ray Allen 0-4 from three tonight with three turnovers. Might be time for Heat to go away from him. 67-66 Heat.

2:18 Third Quarter: The shot clocks over the basket at one end are out, so they are turning off at both ends… wait, they fixed it. So all is right with the world. Sort of.

2:34 Third Quarter: This in some ways feels like the games the Spurs have won when they take the Heat’s best punch and keep finding ways. But will their legs hold out in the fourth is the question. If so they could win this.

2:34 Third Quarter: Duncan layup off pass from Diaw — Spurs once again withstand a little Heat run. 65-64 Spurs.

3:33 Third Quarter: Heat don’t want LeBron driving but he hits his second three in a row. Five threes from LeBron. Kawhi Leonard answers with an impressive and-1 62-60 Heat.

4:23 Third Quarter: LeBron drains his fourth three of the game on a pick-and-pop with Ray Allen. 59-57 Heat.

5:27 Third Quarter: Wade with a nice drive across the lane floater. Green answers with his first three all game. 57-56 Spurs. Green at 27 three for series.

6:48 Third Quarter: 54-54 at a timeout after Green got trapped. Rough game for Green, he has missed all his threes.

7:50 Third Quarter: Duncan with a bucket to tied it 54-54. Also, Duncan has four steals this game.

8:02 Third Quarter: Heat take lead on that pretty LeBron shot.

8:36 Third Quarter: Spurs turnover becomes pretty LeBron to Wade dunk in transition. 54-52 Heat.

9:55 Third Quarter: LeBron had time to build a campfire, make some smores, clean his hands, then set his feet and make a three. 51-48 Heat.

11:01 Third Quarter: Both teams looking a little more steady to start the second half, 46-46 tie.

HALFTIME: Here is the Heat shot chart by zone for the first half.

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HALFTIME: Here is the Spurs shot chart by zone for the first half.

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HALFTIME: This has been a slugfest of a first half, in particular compared to what was a pretty series up to then most of the time.

HALFTIME: Spurs took 26 shots in the paint in the first half, but hit just 45 percent of them. Heat, however, only 10 shots in the paint. They are knocking down jumpers now, but can they keep that up? Spurs would be willing to bet no.

HALFTIME: Heat shot 43.2 percent overall and 5-14 from three led by 15 from LeBron James and 14 from Dwyane Wade. They’d have a bigger lead but had 8 turnovers.

HALFTIME: Spurs shot 35 percent for first half, led by 13 points from Tim Duncan and 10 from Tony Parker. They are just 2-7 from three but got some good minutes from Manu Ginobili.

HALFTIME: 46-44 Heat as half ends with a Wade step back jumper.

1:25 Second Quarter: Ginobili draws questionable foul, hits both free throws, 42-40 Spurs back in lead.

1:43 Second Quarter: LeBron three, Leonard drive and foul. Next possession Duncan three. 40-40 tie.

2:53 Second Quarter: Heat have their 9th turnover of the game, this one courtesy Ray Allen. Heat have cracked 40 percent shooting barrier but turnovers helping keep Spurs close.

3:02 Second Quarter: Heat win scramble for loose ball on the floor, they seem to be winning a lot of 50/50 balls. 37-34 Heat.

4:15 Second Quarter: Spurs hanging around thanks to “look what I found” Gary Neal bank shot from three, and a couple Tim Duncan free throws. 35-32 Heat.

5:21 Second Quarter: LeBron James with a three makes it 33-27 Heat. Spurs have to hold on and not let a run happen.

6:29 Second Quarter: LeBron with a good an impressive and-1. So hard to foul him and stop his shooting motion. 30-27 Heat.

6:40 Second Quarter: Both teams shooting 36.7 percent, Heat hotter from three but turning ball over four more times. 27-27 tie.

7:46 Second Quarter: Duncan with the and-1 where he picked up the third foul on Bosh and sends him to the bench, Chris Andersen back in. 27-27 tie.

8:07 Second Quarter: Tony Parker post up? Tony Parker post up. 25-24 Heat.

9:12 Second Quarter: Heat get three offensive rebounds in once sequence, leads to a Chalmers drive and layup. 23-20 Heat.

9:55 Second Quarter: The in-arena music in Miami is like being in a dance club. In San Antonio it’s like 1988 Metal Fest.

9:55 Second Quarter: Shane Battier is shooting like he’s back at Cameron Indoor Arena, but the 7th Heat turnover leads the Spurs back. 21-20 Heat.

11:12 Second Quarter: Another Battier three. 21-16 Heat.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: Shane Battier with 6 points, he could be the role player star you know would come out of somewhere this quarter. Tim Duncan was really solid for the Spurs but not anyone else.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: 18-16 Heat after 1. Not a very pretty first quarter. Heat shooting 36.8 percent, Spurs 31.8 percent.

:33 First Quarter: Another Shane Battier open three and Heat have their first lead, 18-15.

:50 First Quarter: Spurs have Duncan and Parker sitting, this is a key stretch for the Heat. Battier three and Birdman putback next possession 15-15

1:02 First Quarter: Drake is in the house, they showed him on the scoreboard. He has a Heat championship ring from last year… no, I have no idea why.

2:12 First Quarter: Spurs start out shooting 35% with 3 early turnovers, Heat 30.8% and they have 4 turnovers. Guys are tight. Not a surprise, especially if you remember the wrestling match that was Lakers/Celtics Game 7 in 2010.

3:03 First Quarter: Birdman with a block 15-10 Spurs.

6:18 First Quarter: The Spurs out to fast starts (or the Heat off to slow starts) has been a pattern this series. When the Spurs are on they don’t wilt under the Heat’s runs later in the game that close the gap.

6:18 First Quarter: Ginobili has to sit with his second foul. Heat shooting 2-of-8 to start and the lack of outside shots is not pulling the Spurs defense out of the paint. 11-6 Spurs

7:22 First Quarter: Hangover from last game, what hangover? 11-4 Spurs lead. They bounced back, the question is will their legs get tired in the second half.

8:01 First Quarter: Duncan starts 2-2 shooting, but Spurs with 2 turnovers. Chalmers off to a rough start. Ginobili with a three 9-2 Spurs.

9:58 First Quarter: Tim Duncan with a steal then he leads the “fast” break and dunks. 6-2 Spurs.

10:48 First Quarter: Tony Parker scores the first bucket of the game, a backdoor cut where Mike Miller lost him. LeBron jumper on the other end. 2-2.

11:25 First Quarter: LeBron starts on Ginobili, which means Chalmers on Parker.

12:00 First Quarter: Best part of the being in the arena, I don’t have to see Jessie Williams social media thing they apparently keep doing before the games (according to people complaining on my twitter timeline).

12:00 First Quarter: Dwyane Wade could be key — if he is off tonight and the Spurs defense can ignore him outside 15 feet they will pack the paint and make things hard for LeBron. If they need to be honest on him, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and the rest things open up for the Heat offense.

12:00 First Quarter: Heat can’t go away from Julia Dale at this point.

12:00 First Quarter: Every Game 7 has a role player rise up as a star, that is going to be fascinating. Remember in 2010 it was then Ron Artest, now Metta World Peace, who won Game 7 for the Lakers against the Celtics. Both teams were tight that day — Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce included. That was more wrestling match than basketball game and the winning team shot just over 32 percent. We’ll see who is loose tonight.

12:00 First Quarter: If you haven’t seen it, we have the video of LeBron James talking to the media before the game up live here at PBT, check it out.

12:00 First Quarter: We should note that Danny Green of the Spurs said before the game that he has come down with some kind of bug and is feeling a little off. May not impact his play, but something to watch.

One game. For the NBA championship.

Welcome to the ProBasketballTalk live blog for Game 7. This has been the best, most entertaining NBA Finals series in a while so it is fitting that it  has gone 7 games — and it’s good for us as fans. I’m Kurt, your host and bartender for the evening. I will be keeping you updated on the score, the action, the vibe and all things Game 7. Plus there will be snide remarks and sarcasm. Just know that going in.

Now pull up a chair and have fun.

Report: Joakim Noah having “positive dialogue” with Bulls about future

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah dunks the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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And the spin keeps on happening.

First came the report that Joakim Noah was telling teammates he was out of Chicago. Followed by Noah’s agent — the person charged with keeping Noah’s options open — saying that was not true.

Now comes team management — the people who said they want to keep Noah with the Bulls — saying the sides are still talking, and they want him to stay. Via Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Veteran Bulls center Joakim Noah, his representatives and the Chicago front office continue to have a “positive dialogue” about a new contract amid a report that Noah has been telling teammates he’s ready to leave the franchise, a league source told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

Those close to Noah, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, are still hopeful that he will be able to work out an agreement to stay in Chicago long term.

I’m going to let you in on a real insider bit of knowledge on what team Noah will play for next season:

Whatever team pays him the most money.

I know, it’s crazy, but sometimes people make a decision about where to work based on pay. Right now, everything is posturing. Come July 1, money will go on the table, and then Noah will know just how badly the Bulls want to keep him vs. other teams wanting to bring him in. Once the money is out there, if things are roughly even, then minutes and role on the team, lifestyle, weather and all the rest come into play.

But Puffy had it right — it’s all about the Benjamins.

Coach Steve Kerr: Warriors on brink but ready to rally

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Steve Kerr gave his Golden State players a much-needed mental day off with time to rest their weary bodies, and he got back to work trying to figure out how to save the season against a powerful Thunder team that shows no signs of slowing down.

Back to the basics, back to doing the little things that got the Warriors this far.

After a record 73 wins in the regular season, the Warriors are on the brink as they go into Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night in Oakland trailing the Thunder 3-1 after a second straight lopsided loss in Oklahoma City.

No denying it’s a daunting task for the defending champs – especially given that MVP Stephen Curry is a far cry from being completely healthy.

“Well, it’s a sense of reality staring us in the face. We’re down 3-1,” Kerr said Wednesday. “Momentum can shift quickly in the playoffs. We’ve seen that the last couple years. Let’s take care of business at home, get some momentum back and we’ve got a chance.”

All season long, the Warriors have taken the best efforts from every opponent. The just haven’t shown the vulnerabilities that appeared the past two games in Oklahoma City, where Golden State lost back-to-back games for the first time during its record-setting season.

The flight home was hardly fun following Tuesday’s 118-94 defeat.

“It was not festive. It was quiet,” Kerr said.

The Warriors shot 41 percent and committed 21 turnovers that led to 18 Thunder points. Curry was 6 for 20 and missed eight of his 10 3-point attempts to score 19 points, sparking further talk that he’s far from full strength. The unanimous MVP has dealt with ankle, knee and elbow injuries this postseason alone.

Kerr isn’t about to put a percentage on his superstar’s health.

“I don’t do that. If he were struggling with anything, I would know,” Kerr said. “Nobody has said anything about Steph being 70 percent to me. Our training staff, relatives, friends, sources with knowledge of our team’s thinking, nobody has told me he’s 70 percent.”

Golden State will likely need a big night from Curry to get back in this.

Only nine teams in NBA history have rallied from being down 3-1 to win a postseason series, yet Kerr was quick to note, “I’m guessing most of them weren’t the defending champs.”

With the season on the line, first-year Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan expects the Warriors to bring their best while back in front of their home fans.

“Again, we have great respect for Golden State. We know how good of a team they are. You’ve got to get to a place after each game – what happened in the game, what do we need to get better, what do we do well, what are some changes or adjustments we need to make – and then you’ve got to move into the next one,” Donovan said.

“I just don’t believe that Game 5 is a continuation from Game 4. This is its own separate game and we’re going to have to go now on the road to play in a very difficult environment against a great team.”

The Thunder know full well how close they are but also that nothing will be given to them easily. They last reached the NBA Finals in 2012, losing in five games to the Miami Heat.

Oklahoma City stole Game 1 on the Warriors’ raucous home floor in Oracle Arena, where Golden State has lost just three times all season.

“Every game you have a sense of urgency, it’s the playoffs and you know what everybody’s playing for. We’ve just got to come out there and be who we are,” Kevin Durant said. “We can’t put too much pressure on ourselves. We have to go out, play the game, and play with passion and energy. And we know the whole crowd’s going to be against us and we have to stick together even more.”

The Thunder are playing with all the poise and passion on both ends, while the Warriors haven’t been able to hang around the past two games, in part because of uncharacteristic miscues.

“They’ve had a lot of frustration over the years. They’re healthy. They’re whole. They are determined, and they want what we have,” Kerr said. “We have a banner hanging up in here and we take great pride in that. It’s a hard thing to accomplish, and they’ve been close, but they haven’t done it, and they’re coming after us. They’re really getting after it and playing well and competing. We’ve got to stand up to that.”

Report: Bismack Biyombo could command $17 million per year in free agency

TORONTO, ON - MAY 15:  Bismack Biyombo #8 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates late in the second half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Miami Heat during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Last summer, Bismack Biyombo signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Raptors with a player option for the second year, following four unremarkable seasons in Charlotte. After his performance in the playoffs, it’s a no-brainer that he’ll opt out, and he’s in line for a huge payday. Perhaps bigger than most people expected, even with the rising salary cap.

An unnamed GM told the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney that Biyombo’s price tag this summer could be $17 million per year:

“For someone like (Biyombo), I think when you look at a guy like Tyson Chandler and what he got from Phoenix last summer (four years, $52 million), that’s where you start for a contract,” one Eastern Conference GM told Sporting News. “But you factor in the cap spike and it’s probably going to be high, I’d say, $16-17 million. It’ll be a heck of a $17 million-per-year gamble.”

Honestly, $17 million a year seems low given what next year’s market is shaping up to be. He’s arguably the third-best center available, after Al Horford (unlikely to leave Atlanta) and Hassan Whiteside (a lock for a max deal somewhere). With the amount of cap space teams around the league will have, and the top-heaviness of the free-agent class (there isn’t much beyond Horford, Kevin Durant and Mike Conley), it’s a good bet that somebody will overpay for Biyombo, especially after a playoff run that’s seen him average 20.5 rebounds per 100 possessions, per Basketball Reference. Whether he’s worth that money is a different discussion, but he’ll get it from somebody.

Steve Kerr on Stephen Curry: “it’s not an injury”

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In the age of social media and spin, the idea of a nuanced answer — where there is some truth to a statement, but it is not the only reason for something — gets drowned out.

For example, let’s take the case of Stephen Curry‘s below-par performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder (he was 6-of-20 shooting with six turnovers in Game 4 and is 5-of-21 from three in the last two games). A report came out Wednesday morning saying Curry was only 70 percent following his knee surgery, which first led to a lot of silly “excuses” comments on Twitter. This led to Steve Kerr denying the injury, via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s a radical idea: Curry’s struggles are a combination of things.

Yes, the improved, athletic, and lengthy Thunder defense is giving Curry problems. They are meeting him out high, often doubling off the pick-and-roll, and when that pick is set by Draymond Green Kevin Durant and his length is doing a great job of blowing that play up. Also, it is clear the physical exertion of guarding Russell Westbrook is wearing Curry down.

But also, he has lacked the explosiveness we saw lift him to a second consecutive MVP during the season. He’s had great quarters — the fourth and OT in Game 4 vs. Portland, and the second quarter of Game 2 vs. OKC — but he has not been the consistent force we are used to seeing.

Welcome to the playoffs, where if someone is a little bit off that gets exploited by the other team.

That is what is going on, the rest is just spin.