The Best NBA Games From the 2010’s

With no more NBA games left to be played in the 2010’s, let’s look back and rank the best games the decade produced.

While most of the list is made up of playoff games, a couple of regular season games sneak in due to significance or just great pure basketball. There is also no ranked order, just simply shedding light on these great games.

Miami Heat Vs. Boston Celtics: 2012 Eastern Conference Finals Game 6

Score: Heat 98, Celtics 79

Date: June 7, 2012

You might be thinking: Why is a 19-point blowout game on this list? Well the game itself was not a nail biter, but it will always be remembered as one of the most historic games Lebron James ever played in.

With the Heat down 3-2, and his legacy on the line, James dropped 45-points and 15-rebounds on the Boston Celtics. If James fails to show up and the Heat lose, the “Big 3” becomes a joke and his legacy continues to crumble after the 2011 Finals meltdown. As we know James and company went on to win the 2012 Finals and his legacy continues to grow today.

But the outcome of this game impacted more than just James. Ray Allen left for Miami that summer, then Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013, breaking up Boston’s own Big 3. Who knows, if James doesn’t have an all time performance, maybe the Thunder end up NBA champions and their core stays together.

Golden State Warriors vs OKC Thunder: 2016 Regular Season

Score: Warriors 121, Thunder 118

Date: Feb. 27, 2016

Before we even get into this, if you haven’t seen this game in its entirety then take 2 hours out of your quarantine life and enjoy the classic.

Nothing about this game was supposed to be special, other than it was a conference finals preview in February. But we get those all the time, we talk about the game for a day or two then we move on. However this game will withstand the test of time and be talked about forever.

The Warriors were the defending champions and won 52 of their last 57 games. We are talking about peak Steph Curry. The Thunder were maybe the Warriors greatest threat to immortality, as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s singular talents were enough to counter the Warriors explosive team ball.

With 14.5 seconds to go, Kevin Durant hit a wing 3 to put the Thunder up four, which should have sealed a monumental win for the Thunder. Klay Thompson answered with a quick layup, cutting the lead to 2. All the Thunder had to do was not turn it over and hit their free throws to walk away with a win. Except the Thunder could not be smart for all of a few seconds.

Durant received the inbounds pass, and rather than hold on to it and take his free throws to ice the game, he tried to be Aaron Rodgers and threw a wild pass down court. Andre Iguodala eventually came up with the ball and knocked down two free throws to send the game into OT.

But the game hadn’t even really gotten good yet.

The 5 minute overtime gave us some of the best basketball of the season. The teams went back and forth, exchanging baskets. Westbrook missed a jumper with nine seconds left in a tie game, setting the stage for one of the best shots of the decade.

Rather than electing to call time out and draw up a play, Steve Kerr trusted the league MVP to go down and get a good look amidst the chaos of transition defense. Curry took his time getting down the court, almost making Steve Kerr question himself about not taking the timeout.

Curry pulled up from just inside half court, nailing the 40 foot game winner over the outstretched arms of Andre Roberson. In hindsight it is easy to kill Roberson for back pedaling and giving Curry that much space to shoot. But did anyone expect him to pull from 40 feet in a tied game?

Nonetheless, the shot fell through the net, setting up Mike Breen for an all time great call.

“Bang! Baaaaaang! Oh, what a shot from Curry!”

It was his 12th 3-pointer of the game, tying an NBA record, and the best victory the Warriors had during their 73 win season.

Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe’s Finals Game

Score: Lakers 101, Jazz 96

Date: April 13, 2016

What were the details of Kevin Garnett’s final game? Tim Duncan’s? Michael Jordan? When all time greats decide to hang it up, their final games are always an afterthought. Usually they feature a celebration, and a few open looks so they don’t look pathetic in their final outing.

Kobe Bryant’s final game however will never be forgotten.

The Lakers trailing by 10 points with 3:04 to play? Bryant scoring 17 of the final 19 to seal a win? That set up could be a game from prime Kobe, Fro-Kobe, and yes even “Mamba Out” Kobe.

The Lakers issued 336 credentials for media from 40 countries. Shaq asked Kobe to get 50, and was court-side to see him drop 60. The Jazz and Lakers, two teams eliminated from playoff contention, drew as much attention as the historic Golden State seeking their 73rd win of the regular season.

Everything about this game makes it a classic, and will be one of the most remembered games from the decade.

Dallas Mavericks vs Miami Heat: 2011 NBA Finals Game 2

Score: Mavericks 95, Heat 93

Date: June 2, 2011

I had this ranked as one of the better NBA Finals series of the decade, and Game 2 is a huge reason why.

After splashing a corner 3 with 7:14 left in the fourth quarter to put the Heat up 15, Wade held his follow-through in front of the Mavs bench, with James joining him in celebration shortly after. Up 1-0 and a 15 point 4th quarter lead in the NBA Finals, it is hard to bale them for showboating. But the two friends would soon regret it.

Thanks to a 20-2 run by Jason Terry, Kidd, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki, the Heat watched their lead diminish before their eyes as the Mavs went up by 3 with 26 seconds left. Heat point guard Mario Chalmers would tie the game with his clutch 3 pointer, setting up Dallas to have a chance to win it.

Nowitzki got the ball and an isolation with Chris Bosh guarding him. Nowitzki spun past Bosh, for a left-handed finish, giving the Mavs a 2 point lead. It was almost for nothing as Wade’s running 3 point heave at the buzzer nearly banked in.

The Mavericks went on to win the series in 6 games.

Golden State Warriors vs OKC Thunder: 2016 Western Conference Finals Game 6

Score: Warriors 108, Thunder 101

Date: May 28, 2016

Before the Warriors blew a 3-1 to the Cavs in the Finals, the Thunder did it in this series. Somehow we forget that, but what we do remember is the birth of Game 6 Klay.

With the Thunder up by 8 points and just 12 minutes away from the NBA Finals, Klay Thompson erupted for 19 fourth-quarter points, leading Golden State to a stunning 108-101 comeback win.

For the Thunder, the ramifications of this game were massive. Beyond the eventual Game 7 loss in Golden State, this was also the last home game Kevin Durant would play as a member of the Thunder. The loss, combined with the Warriors falling in the Finals, helped pave the way for KD’s move to Golden State, shifting the entire balance of power in the NBA.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors: 2016 NBA Finals Game 7

Score: Cavaliers 93, Warriors 89

Date: June 19, 2016

The 2016 Finals, pitting LeBron James against a Warriors team that had won a record 73 games during the regular season, was a great series without a great game — until Game 7.

After Klay Thompson’s layup to tie the game at 89 with 4:39 left to play, both teams went scoreless for nearly 3 1/2 minutes. The defensive intensity reached its peak when Lebron James chased down Andre Igoudala’s fast break layup to keep the game tied.

Kyrie Irving broke the scoreless stretch in the final minute with a pull-up 3, which was the ultimate dagger. It will go down as one of the best games and comebacks of all time.

The win gave Cleveland its first major professional sports championship since 1964, and shook the NBA landscape. After the loss, Draymond Green made a call to Kevin Durant and recruited him to the Bay Area.

San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat: 2013 NBA Finals Game 6

Score: Heat 103, Spurs 100

Date: June 18, 2013

“James catches, puts up a three, won’t go, rebound Bosh back out to Allen his three pointer BANG! Tied game with 5 seconds remaining!”- Mike Breen

That iconic call is all you need to know about this game. Allen’s game tying 3 saved the Heat from losing the NBA Finals. They of course went on to win Game 7 of this series, which was also another phenomenal game.

The people involved in this iconic game gave their takes on the play.

Ray Allen: ” When I saw Bosh get the ball, I just backpedaled right to the 3-point line. We needed a 3. Two points wasn’t going to cut it. My mental checklist was to have my legs ready and underneath me so when the ball came, if it came, I was ready to go in the air.”

Dwayne Wade: “When he shot it, I was looking at the ball and I said, “Oh my god … that’s going in.” It was kind of like I couldn’t believe it in a sense. But also, “Oh my god … it’s going in.”

Tony Parker: “We all have scars in our careers. That one is pretty deep.”

Greg Popovich: “I’ve thought about it every day. I’m anxious for it to go away. It hasn’t happened yet.”

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