With 2022-23 marking the Miami Heat’s 35th season, the Sun Sentinel is unveiling a series of “5 at 35 ” reflections from staff writer Ira Winderman, who has covered the entirety of the franchise’s 3 1/2 decades.
Today, we start with the five greatest games in the team’s history.
1. June 18, 2013: Game 6 NBA Finals. Heat down three to the San Antonio Spurs, shot clock off, LeBron James wayward with a 3-point attempt from the left wing, Chris Bosh rebounds, and then . . . with 5.2 seconds remaining in regulation — Bang! — a back-peddling 3-pointer from Ray Allen in the right corner. A victory in overtime follows, as does a Game 7 victory and the Heat’s second consecutive NBA championship.
2. June 13, 2006: Game 3 NBA Finals. Down 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks in the best-of-seven series, the Heat find themselves trailing by 13 with 6:34 to play, well aware that, to this date, no team has overcome a 3-0 deficit in an NBA playoffs series. That’s when Dwyane Wade says enough is enough. “I kept looking up at the score thinking, ‘I ain’t going out like this.’” He doesn’t, closing with 42 points. The Heat win that game and the next two, for the franchise’s first championship.
3. June 7, 2012: Game 6 Eastern Conference finals. Down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, the Heat face the daunting return to Boston after a four-point home loss . . . and James simply takes over. Forty-five points and 15 rebounds later, James nearly single handedly evens the series, with the Heat winning Game 7 at home and then the 2012 championship.
4. April 18, 2004: Game 1 Eastern Conference first round. So when exactly did the legend of Wade begin? With 1.3 seconds left in his playoff debut, when coach Stan Van Gundy turns to his rookie phenom, who drains the winning shot to give the Heat a 1-0 lead in the series they eventually would win in seven games. It is the Heat’s first playoff victory in four years.
5. May 18, 1997: Game 7 Eastern Conference semifinals. Torment against the New York Knicks would follow in ensuing years, but in Pat Riley’s first playoff series against his former team, one that leaves both rosters ravaged by suspensions at the end, Tim Hardaway steps up with 38 points to make the Heat just the sixth team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 playoff-series deficit.
Up next: The Heat’s five greatest moments, as the franchise turns 35.