The San Antonio Spurs have five titles and have been in some memorable series. The greatest NBA Finals series ever is debatable. There is no right answer. It is an opinionated question.
I have seen lists here and there by writers, usually from the west or east coast, and the focus is usually on the Lakers versus Celtics clashes. They will throw in the Bulls finals too, and all are deserving of mention.
The Spurs versus Heat Finals series of 2013 will appear on those lists, and it should be, despite the pain it caused Spurs fans.
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The problem is that one particular series is too often forgotten. It didn’t have the glamour of some of these other series. It wasn’t a series that attracted the casual fan as they like to say.
I am not a casual fan, and frankly don’t think the casual fan matters where it concerns what is deemed to be a great NBA Finals.
It is the die hard, true fan that matters, and is knowledgeable enough to know what should be considered on lists such as these.
The series that is often omitted and should be somewhere at the tip of every list, and is No. 1 on my list of the greatest NBA Finals series ever, is the Spurs vs Pistons in 2005. It had all the drama, and excitement one could want from a NBA Finals series.
The fact that the two best teams in basketball also happened to be the the two best defensive teams in basketball made for lower scores. Because of this stellar defense, every basket was hard earned and meant something.
This wasn’t trading 3 point shots, and fast break lay ups up and down the court. I like a series like that. The series prior to the Finals that year, saw the Spurs beat the Suns at their own game going up and down the court and playing fast paced.
The Spurs ability to turn it up defensively, and not allow easy baskets is what separated themselves from those Suns in the Western Conference Finals.
The Pistons were the defending champs from 2004, and the Spurs had won it all the year prior to that in 2003. So the last two NBA Champions met in June of 2005 for what became an epic series for the ages.
Robert Horry shoots a game-winning shot to put the Spurs up 96-95 with 7.6 seconds left in overtime against the (Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
Game 1 was tight throughout, until Manu Ginobili went bananas in the 4th quarter and led the Spurs to a 84-69 victory after only leading by four entering the 4th quarter. Game 2 was a Spurs blowout win from start to finish. It looked as though the Spurs were simply too much for the Pistons.
In games 3 and 4 the worm turned, and the Pistons struck back with a vengeance. They turned up their defense, and scored off of forced turnovers and effectively ran the Spurs out of the gym from the 4th quarter of Game 3 through the entire Game 4.
Game 5 began with the series now hanging in the balance, and the momentum built in Games 1 and 2 in San Antonio swung now to the Pistons in Games 3 and 4 in Detroit.
This game was a battle from start to finish. Both teams going back and forth exchanging leads, and every basket hard fought for as the defenses were both unrelenting. It went into an overtime period, and with the Pistons leading by four points late in that overtime, it looked like the Spurs would have to try and pull it together back in San Antonio for Games 5 and 6.
That is when Robert “Big Shot Bob or Rob Horry” took over. Horry drove to the basket for an unbelievable slam dunk with his left hand, and in between huge Spurs defensive stops, hit one of the greatest shots ever, and my favorite shot ever!
A 3 pointer I call “The Dagger in Detroit”. Horry had 21 points, all in the 2nd half and overtime and played a game for the ages.
After that monumental game, the Spurs looked to eliminate the Pistons in Game 6, but the Pistons finished the game stronger and won 95-86 with the game tight throughout, and showed their championship resiliency.
That set up a Game 7 showdown for all the marbles in San Antonio, Texas. Again, it was a dead even , see saw game just as it had been in the previous two games. The Pistons even had a 9 point lead during the 3rd that threatened to become even larger.
That was when Tim Duncan added to his legacy and willed the Spurs back into the game. Duncan was either scoring, or setting up teammates for scores as he lead the Spurs back into the game.
With the game tied heading into the 4th quarter, the two teams continued to battle until the end. Huge baskets by Duncan, and Ginobili, and timely 3 pointers by the likes of Horry and Bowen allowed the Spurs to prevail and take home their 3rd Championship.
The final score was 81-74. It was a defensive battle of two of the greatest defenses of all time. The swing of momentum over the course of the series, and the dramatic finishes to games 5,6, and 7 make this one of the greatest NBA Finals ever, and my personal favorite.