MIAMI — Game 7s do more than settle championships. They define legacies.
No matter what happens tonight, LeBron James and the Heat and Tim Duncan's Spurs have already won NBA titles and secured a place in history.
Now is their opportunity to elevate it.
The truly memorable teams won the hard way, and that will be the case for the one celebrating tonight. It's either a Heat repeat, possible because James led them back from what seemed certain elimination in the closing seconds of Game 6, or the Spurs shaking off a gut-wrenching a loss to become the fourth club to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road.
"As a competitor, you love it, because you know you have an opportunity and it's up to you," Heat guard Ray Allen said. "We have a chance in our building to make something great. All of our legacies are tied to this moment, this game."
Allen played in the game the last time the NBA season went down to the last day, the Celtics falling 83-79 to the host Lakers in 2010. That made home teams 14-3 in the Finals Game 7s, with no road team winning since Washington beat Seattle in 1978.
Overcoming those odds would make this more memorable than the Spurs' previous four titles, though this is a franchise that never dwells too much on the past or looks too far into the future.
"It's all about just winning the title. It's not about the situation or what has led up to it," Duncan said. "It's a great story for everybody else, but we're here for one reason, one reason only: It's to try to win this game."
The teams trudged back to the arena Wednesday, about 12 hours after the Heat pulled out a 103-100 overtime victory in Game 6, which had everything from James' triple double to Allen's tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation.
The Spurs, five points ahead with 28 seconds left in regulation, had to fight off fatigue and heartbreak, insisting neither would linger into tonight.
The Spurs went to dinner as a team after the game, Duncan figuring that was better than guys sitting alone with their thoughts in their rooms.
"It's always good to be around teammates and kind of get some stuff out in the open," he said.
"We just have to be positive and forget Game 6," guard Tony Parker said. "It was a great opportunity, but that's life. It's basketball and everybody will be ready."
So will James, who probably has the most at stake in the game. When it's over he will be either a two-time Finals MVP or a two-time loser in a Heat uniform.
"I want to go down as one of the greatest. I want our team to go down as one of the greatest teams. And we have an opportunity to do that," James said. "It's probably going to be one of the biggest games, if not the biggest game of my life."
Spurs 3, Heat 3
TV: Ch. 28
Game 1: Spurs 92, Heat 88
Game 2: Heat 103, Spurs 84
Game 3: Spurs 113, Heat 77
Game 4: Heat 109, Spurs 93
Game 5: Spurs 114, Heat 104
Game 6: Heat 103, Spurs 100 OT
Tonight: at Miami, 9