Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
On Game 6: Did the Heat take, or did the Spurs give away?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: San Antonio gave that game away. You can’t be the savvy, mature team that gets praise after Game 1 for its poise and then miss free throws, fail on the defensive glass, neglect opponents on switches, have your Hall of Fame big man on the side twice when just one rebound can seal it or even dismiss the strategy of fouling when up three late. The Spurs won a championship and lost a championship all at once and, unless they win it back in Game 7, might be thinking for decades about the one that got away.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Little bit of both. I thought it was mostly a case of two championship caliber teams refusing to give in or give up. The Spurs didn’t roll over when Miami took the lead with two minutes left. Then when the Spurs took a five-point lead with 28 seconds left in regulation and the Heat wouldn’t quit. It’s not always a case of somebody “spitting it up.” Sometimes you just battle and somebody wins.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: . I always answer this question by saying both. Was this a Spurs collapse up by five points with 28 seconds to go? Absolutely. But they’re raising the trophy if the Heat don’t get two offensive rebounds and if LeBron James and Ray Allen don’t make those possession-savers count by both nailing critical 3-pointers to force overtime. So while the Spurs missed two crucial free throws and coach Gregg Popovich made a couple of debatable strategic calls to keep the door open, the Heat took advantage of the opportunities afforded them by making winning plays.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: That game has to be more painful for the Spurs than joyful for the Heat, but the fourth quarter and overtime was more about the way Miami played than the way San Antonio played. The Heat got those rebounds, hit those shots, and it was their defense that shut the Spurs down in the extra period.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: A little bit of both, obviously. LeBron James, Ray Allen, Chris Bosh … the Heat players made plays at the end of regulation and overtime to secure this win. The shots made by both James and Allen were clutch. Bosh’s offensive rebounds were critical. The defensive intensity during the rally and finish into overtime was all about the Heat. But the Spurs were extremely generous. Missed free throws by both Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili and the absence of Tim Duncan (and Tony Parker during a crucial stretch in the fourth quarter) to help secure one of those rebounds that could have kept the Heat from staying alive would certainly have helped the Spurs’ cause. Still, the Heat had to cash in on those opportunities. Give them credit for making the plays the Spurs did not to win this game.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: The Heat won it. Sure the Spurs made mistakes — turnovers, not boxing out — but the story of Game 6 was LeBron losing his headband and the Heat flipping the switch that carried them to the win. Where is that switch and why can’t the Heat keep it in the on position? That’s a bigger question for a different column. The Spurs could have done some things differently, but the Heat played about as well as they could have played down the stretch. That has to count for something.
Pawel Weszka, NBA Africa: Despite Tim Duncan’s loneliness on the offensive end in the first half, the Spurs had looked the better team until the LeBron James show started in the fourth quarter. It looked like the Heat were going to seal it and then Tony Parker woke up with a couple of key and spectacular plays. The Spurs were on the way to their fifth championship again until Ray Allen’s I-can-not-believe-it shot that changed it all. It was the Spurs’ best (last?) chance to clinch the title, but they didn’t take it away. Miami took it. And they are back in the driver’s seat now.
Philipp Dornhegge, NBA Deutschland: I’m not a fan of diminishing a winning team’s accomplishments, but this game was over. With 28 seconds left, fans were streaming toward the doors, the Spurs only needed one more free-throw from Manu or Leonard. And they both missed. Then they failed to foul the Heat before the shot, then they failed to grab a defensive rebound twice. And in the overtime Miami took advantage of two more turnovers by Manu, who played disastrous overall. Allen’s three was epic, though.
Eduardo Schell, NBA Espana: The Opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and Miami has too many weapons to close out games (Ray Allen, Wade, LeBron) and potential shot makers like Chalmers, Miller, Bosh or Battier. So you cant say they’re dead at least until two weeks after they’re buried. That being said I do think the Spurs gave it away, and it’s shocking because they’re experienced and well-coached. But you just cant simply let others camp in your paint and grab two crucial rebounds after Diaw enters the game twice in last 28 seconds. Miami showed pride, tons of pride winning this one. And Pops should have gone Euro-style preventing those three’s with fouls. Its the ABC of Eurobasketball.