Two thousand thirteen undoubtedly stands as the best year in franchise history for the Miami Heat. From the historic 27-game winning streak to Miami's most thrilling championship, the year brought lots of great moments for Heat fans. Next year, a lot will ride on the Heat's playoff run and by extension the possible free agencies of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But while we still have some time, why don't we reminisce?
I've composed a list of top 10 moments for the Miami Heat. Below is part two of the two-part series. For the list from 2012, click here.
5. LeBron's layup seals Game 1 win over Indiana Pacers
The Heat's first playoff win at the buzzer in franchise history comes in at number five. Probably the best game of this series -- it seemed like every meeting after the first two was a blowout -- Game 1 was nip-and-tuck for the entire second half. Miami looked like it had the first game in the bag when Ray Allen stepped to the line with Miami up two with 17 seconds left. But Allen uncharacteristically split the pair, and Paul George made a deep 3 to send the game to overtime. In the closing seconds of the overtime, Dwyane Wade fouled George on a 3-point attempt, and the Pacers' best player nailed all three free throws. But James took advantage of an open lane, and went from the top of the key to the basket in just 2.2 seconds to give Miami the one-point victory.
4. Heat finish off Pacers in superb Game 7
For the second consecutive season, the Heat went the distance in the conference finals. The Pacers committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, leading to plays like this putback dunk from James and this Euro-step dunk from Wade. Yet inexplicably, the Pacers held a 21-19 advantage after one. But Miami made the decisive run in the second quarter, highlighted by this Norris Cole to James alley-oop. Chris Bosh and Ray Allen made 3s, and a Wade layup in the closing seconds of the half put Miami up 15 at the break. The Heat cruised to a 99-76 win to advance to their third consecutive NBA Finals.
3. Dwyane Wade comes back to life to tie NBA Finals at 2-2
Over the last two seasons, the Miami Heat have had their backs on the ropes several times. Miami has always responded, whether in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals or Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. After a disappointing performance in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Heat desperately needed to avoid a 3-1 series hole and force a flight back to Miami.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals was all about the Big Three. James, Wade and Bosh fueled a pivotal fourth-quarter run to win on the road 109-93 and knot the series at two games apiece. The performance from Wade -- 32 points on 14-of-25 shooting, six rebounds, four assists and six steals -- showed a banged-up dude pushing through to deliver big shot after big shot. LeBron James had 33 points and 11 rebounds, and Chris Bosh added 20 and 13. Ray Allen chipped in 14 points. No one else really did anything offensively, but it was all that was needed with the Big Three all playing at the top of their games.
Stretches in this game were undoubtedly reminiscent of the Heat's Game 6 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. Tim Duncan scored 25 points in the first half, and Miami struggled to find any offensive flow for several periods of time. There's a reason the Spurs held a 10-point lead heading into the final quarter. Mike Miller made a 3 with only one shoe to start the fourth. After LeBron James lost his headband, he took over. The game was tied midway through the fourth, and the Heat had a three-point lead with two minutes left. But three costly turnovers gave the Spurs a five-point lead with 28 seconds left. Many Heat fans even left the arena, and NBA personnel brought out yellow ropes in preparation for the trophy presentation.
1. LeBron and Wade deliver Heat second straight championship
I watched the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals recently. You should too. Both teams played at a speed and efficiency level even unseen at the playoff level. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined to score 60 points on 23-of-44 shooting and grab 22 rebounds. James made the Spurs pay for leaving him open from beyond the arc, making five 3s. Shane Battier added six 3-pointers, marking a well-timed shooting resurgence after bad shooting led Erik Spoelstra to bench him in favor of Mike Miller.
The Heat weren't appreciably better than the Spurs in the Finals, and luck definitely played a factor. It's why Duncan can miss two shots in the paint against the smaller Battier, and James can take a long two-pointer -- widely regarded as the worst shot to take in basketball -- and sink it. The Heat won in Game 7 of the NBA Finals even though just five Miami players scored. I can't explain how it happened, but it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.