MIAMI – You can make a rather convincing argument that if any team could not only rebound from a heartbreaking loss in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, but also be the first team in 35 years to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road, the San Antonio Spurs might be the perfect team for the task.
Already known for their utilitarian nature, the culture that has helped the Spurs win four titles over the last decade and a half also allows them to compartmentalize losses and poor individual performances and move on. Even when the most recent loss is as memorable as Game 6’s 103-100 overtime loss, when the Spurs somehow allowed a five-point lead with 28 seconds left to play to evaporate.
At practice on Wednesday at the AmericanAirlines Arena, barely 12 hours after the end of Game 6, several Spurs said a late night team dinner was useful in turning the page and looking ahead to Game 7.
“It helped, it did,” Tim Duncan said. “The other option is a bunch of us go back to our rooms and sit there by ourselves and beat yourself up. So it’s always good to be around teammates and kind of get some stuff out in the open. We did exactly that. As I said, we’ll be ready to rock.”
“It was a great dinner,” Tony Parker agreed. “We shared histories and what happened in different games, and sharing stuff like when I was with the (French) national team, when we were up 7 and lost in 35 seconds, the European Championship. You just share those moments and try to see what you can do better and prepare for Game 7.”
If there’s anything we’ve learned about the Spurs, preparation isn’t a problem. The Spurs say they will continue to do what they always do, which is to continue to do what they always do. According to coach Gregg Popovich, fatigue — either mental or physical — won’t be an issue. “That was a tough loss,” Popovich allowed. “But as long as we didn’t play the game at midnight last night or 8 this morning, we ought to have time to recover and be fine.”
Game 6 behind, Game 7 ahead. The Spurs focus on process and await the results that history has shown their methods should provide. While history says they shouldn’t be favored to win Game 7, history simultaneously says the Spurs couldn’t be better positioned.
“We have a lot of guys who’ve been there,” Boris Diaw said. “Timmy, Tony and Manu, they played Game 7s. And even if you were heartbroken after the game yesterday, we know now that the whole season is going to be played in one game, in 48 minutes.”
“We know what we have to do,” Duncan noted. “We know the opportunity we let slip through our fingers. And we’re not going to hang our head and dwell on that.
“We’ve got one more game to win, and that’s all that matters.”