MIAMI -- Security guards lined the court. Fans headed to the exits in droves. And in all likelihood, the visiting locker room was being prepared for a Spurs celebration. But down five with 28.2 seconds left in Game 6, the Miami Heat rallied to force overtime and squeeze out a 103-100 win, sending the NBA Finals to a Game 7 on Thursday.
This is why Miami got Ray Allen. There were several reasons Miami made signing Allen its top priority in the offseason, and this was one of them: Down three with seconds to go, Chris Bosh corralled a LeBron James miss and kicked it out to Allen, who, with Tony Parker draped all over him, knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game with 5.2 seconds left. It was a ridiculous shot by Allen, the kind of shot fans in Boston, Seattle and Milwaukee have seen him hit all too often. There probably aren't 10 players in the NBA who can make that shot in that moment. Luckily for Miami, Allen is one of them.
LeBron lives to play another day. Had the Heat lost, James' narrative wouldn't have been a good one. LeBron singlehandedly pushed Miami back into the game in the fourth quarter, erasing a 10-point Spurs lead with 16 fourth quarter points of his own, not to mention wearing Tony Parker down with physical defense. But in the final minute, James committed two costly turnovers that nearly ended the Heat's season. Had Kawhi Leonard made both free throws with 19 seconds left, it's likely the "Can LeBron win the big one?" stories would have been everywhere. Now, James gets another chance to win his second championship.
A throwback performance. Lost in the Spurs' loss will be the spectacular performance by Tim Duncan, who pumped in 32 points (on 13-of-21 shooting) and pulled down 17 rebounds. The Spurs have been open about how the offense has transitioned from Duncan as the focal point to Tony Parker over the last few years, but Duncan led the way in this one, making nine of his first 10 shots, controlling the paint and willing the Spurs to early leads. With Miami focused on taking away San Antonio's three-point shooting, Duncan had a field day, leading a 60-points-in-the-paint effort. Call him a power forward, call him a center, but Duncan is one of the best big men in NBA history, and this performance, at 37, was further proof of that greatness.
Ugh, Manu. Manu Ginobili was so bad, several media members wondered if the Spurs would have been better off playing Tracy McGrady. After a strong Game 5, Ginobili struggled again in Game 6, scoring nine points, committing a ghastly eight turnovers and finishing with a game-worst -21. Ginobili is a pillar of this franchise but he has been a liability for most of this series. Gregg Popovich has resisted limiting Ginobili's minutes, but as the team heads for a decisive Game 7, you have to wonder if Ginobili needs a short leash.
Do the Spurs have anything left? You can tell San Antonio was treating Game 6 like an elimination game. Duncan, Parker, Leonard and Danny Green played at least 41 minutes. In overtime, Parker sat on the bench during timeouts, hunched over, towel on his head, clearly gassed. The core of Miami's team is younger, and playing at home you would expect them to be fresher. It certainly felt like this was the Spurs' best shot.
Congratulations. To the makers of this GIF ... bravo