Legacies Truly On The Line In Game 7





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A champion will be crowned after the dust has settled on tonight’s winner-take-all Game 7 of The Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Legacies also are on the line for the coaches and main players on both sides. Heat star and four-time MVP LeBron James might have the most riding on the outcome of this game, but he’s certainly not the only one with a reputation to continue building.

The basics:
Game 7 tips off Thursday night at 9 ET on ABC.

The Heat have plenty of numbers on their side, courtesy of home-court advantage. The home team is 14-3 in Games 7s in Finals history, the last road team to win was Washington over Seattle in 1978. They need whatever they can get after coming within seconds of not even making it to a Game 7, trailing by five points with 28 seconds to play in regulation of Game 6 before Ray Allen forced overtime with a clutch 3-pointer from the corner. The Heat are trying to repeat as champions, becoming the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers did it in 2009 and 2010. That 2010 title was secured with a Game 7 win over Allen and the Boston Celtics at Staples Center.

The Spurs are attempting to become just the fourth team to win a Finals Game 7 on the road. And they’ll have to shake off the stench of blowing their chance to capture the Larry O’Brien trophy in Game 6. The trophy was being wheeled out to the court for the championship ceremony as the Spurs fumbled away their lead in the final seconds. The Spurs are chasing title No. 5, for Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, No. 4 for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. So they are playing the legacy game, too.

The Heat haven’t won back-to-back games since the end of the conference semifinals and Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, while the Spurs haven’t lost back-to-back games with their Big 3 in the lineup since December. Something has to give tonight.

The narrative:
James, headband free, had to dig down in his deep reserves to find the energy to change the tempo in Game 6 and the put the Heat in a position to even have a chance to come back. So what does he have left for Game 7 with so much at stake? It needs to be a lot, because Dwyane Wade is operating on two busted knees and could be limited in Game 7 the way he was in Game 6. Chris Bosh came through with some clutch rebounds and a block at the end of Game 6, but he also has to play much better. The Heat need their Big 3 to show up again the way they did in Game 4, when they combined for 85 points, 30 rebounds, 10 steals, nine assists and five blocks.

Role players from each side have stepped up tremendously throughout the first six games of this series, but Game 7 is about the superstars showing up and assuming their designed roles. If the Spurs get another 30-point, 17-rebound effort out of Duncan and Parker shoots it better than he did in Game 6 and Ginobili cuts his turnovers in half and produces like he did in Game 5, the Spurs’ Big 3 will have done their part.

And that leaves the always important wild card position open for Allen or Mike Miller for the Heat and for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for the Spurs. If any one of those guys goes off the grid and plays out of his mind in this setting, he could swing the momentum of this game in his team’s favor.

The subplots:
Popovich took a beating for his late-game rotations that did not include, for at least a stretch of the fourth quarter, Duncan and Parker on the floor with the Spurs trying to hold a lead. He didn’t take a timeout with seconds to play, allowing Ginobili to dribble the ball up the court at a critical time while Parker sat on the bench. And when the Spurs needed to rebound the ball in those final 28 seconds, Duncan was not on the floor as the Heat scrambled to tie the game. Not that he cares, but all eyes will be on him if things are tight down the stretch.

So much has been made about the Spurs’ mental and emotional recovery from Game 6, which was aided by a late-night,  clear-the-air team dinner and the realization that they have one more chance to finish what they started in Game 6. But what about the emotional recovery for a Heat team that was floored by the reality that they were seconds away from watching a team celebrate a championship on their home floor for the second time in three years? They have to come back to earth after that game as well.

Finally, and perhaps most important, is what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decides to do if Wade clearly doesn’t have the bounce and energy needed to impact the game in the way we’ve seen him do it earlier in this series? The Heat’s fourth-quarter rally in Game 6 came with James attacking the rim with sharpshooters Allen and Miller spreading the floor and the Spurs’ defense out. With Wade on the floor James doesn’t have the same room to operate and the Spurs can pack the lane. Spoelstra might have to make a choice between benching Wade and trying to do the impossible with him on the floor.

Xs and Os:
There will be plenty of opportunities for both coaches to tweak their teams in this game, but only once the action starts. After six games against each other, there are no surprises left. All of the punching and counterpunching we’ve seen — from the altered starting lineups and the insertion of certain role players at ideal times in the series — Game 7 should not come down to a modification from either Popovich or Spoelstra.

This is a game that the players will decide with their energy, effort and execution of the same game plans that have been in place since the start of Game 1.

The Spurs want to play at their pace, keep the Heat off-balance in transition and impose their will inside with Duncan and make sure Parker is attacking and his shooters are in place to take advantage of the inside-out game when the Spurs pick-and-roll game is in a groove.

The Heat want to play at their breakneck pace, with James and Wade in attack mode and the floor spread just enough to keep those driving lanes open and keep the Spurs guessing about where the next strike is coming from. And if Spoelstra is determined to stick with Wade and James on the floor together, one of them has to be prepared to play in the post to keep the floor spaced properly.

Who’s hot?
Allen scored just nine points in Game 6, but all nine of them came in the fourth quarter and overtime, the most critical times in the game for the Heat. Experienced in the clutch, he has more Game 7 minutes on his resume, by far, than anyone else in this game.

He’s been in the Spurs’ shoes before, trying to win a Game 7 on the road, and that experience will serve him and the Heat well in an environment that should be as wild as anything we’ve seen in the NBA this season.

“As a competitor you love it, because you know you have an opportunity and it’s up to you,” Allen said. “We have a chance in our building to make something great. All of our legacies are tied to this moment, this game. It’s something our kids will be able to talk about that they were a part of. Forever will remember these moments, so we want to not live and have any regrets.”

Whatever happened to…
Green went from the favorite to win Finals MVP before Game 6 to a complete non-factor by the end of Game 6. He shot just 1-for-7 from the floor and managed just three points in a game where, as Bosh promised, he did not see as many open looks as he had previously.

If the Spurs are moving the ball well to make space for their shooters, Green’s opportunities should increase dramatically in Game 7. And that should allow him to add to his already impressive Finals record for 3-pointers made.

Bottom line:

Throw out the trends of this series and the teams alternating wins and neither one of them being able to come up with back-to-back exemplary performances, and strap yourself in for what should be a wild 48-minute (or more) ride with two heavyweight contenders swinging until one of them drops.

“You know what, it’s all about just winning the title. It’s not about 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. We have had a very good season thus far, and I think we just want to get to the game more than anything. We just want to see what happens and be able to leave everything out there.”

26 Comments

  1. geo says:

    Best teams ever I love the NBA! HEAT FAN!!

  2. TRP says:

    @Mr. 305… I don’t disagree with u. This has been the most honest post I’ve seen from a heat fan..

  3. Spurs fan says:

    Well When my Spurs played the pistons ..that 2004 -2005 pistons team were every bit as good as SA..now the other 3 teams were not

  4. @zama_hg says:

    What a game this is going to be. Lebron is the best but my heart is still black & silver since the days of the admiral till today… San Antonio all the way baby…

  5. Mr.305 says:

    @TRP Honestly, most Heat fans are bandwagons and know nothing of the sport of basketball. I however, study and love the game. So to simply state you hate Heat fans because they’re prideful for their team, and state they know nothing of basketball, is complete ignorance. I respect the Spurs for winning a championship with Robinson and Duncan and 3 with the big three of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. If you want to get technical though, the team’s they faced in those finals weren’t on their level. Certainly not on the level of the Miami Heat neither. Then again, rings speak for themselves. Let’s let game 7 speak for itself as well and may the best team win.

  6. kobe says:

    going to b great game but Heat will win…Spurs had chance to win title in game 6 and blew it…when u have champion on the ropes u must knock them out and Spurs didnt…93-89 heat

    • bballjunkie1 says:

      You might be right but as long as Spo is coaching any team has a chance to make a big run before he makes the hard necessary adjustments. All gmaes have been close ecept for the 2 blow outs, thought he should have played Birdman, Miller more earlier in the series. Spurs will collapse the paint as long as Chalmers, Wade (not 100%) are in the game. Can’t get the transition game going. It will be intersting for sure. Enjoying NBA.

  7. SWIFTSLICK23 says:

    Actually, there’s only one true legacy on the line tonight. The players will get over the loss. That’s minimal in the grand scheme of things. In truth the legacy on the line is David Stern’s. Before, during, and after the lockout he’s preached to anyone that will listen about the NBA wanting the same type of parity that the NFL has.

    Whether the Commissioner and the league truly “practice what they preach” will depend on the outcome of this game. If San Antonio wins, the lockout will be somewhat justifiable. Because a small market team that builds their franchise the right way has succeeded. If Miami wins, it will show other teams that the only true way to contend in the NBA is to gather a bunch of stars and throw the bank at them. Which in turn will cause teams to try and “copycat” that tactic (much like the Knicks and Nets are attempting to do).

    Otherwise the chatter about parity in the NBA is just a bunch of “happy talk” malarky and David Stern is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Is that the image he wants to portray to the NBA and it’s fans in his final months as the Commissioner? Does he even care?

    • Stradio says:

      The fact that both of these teams are battling in a game 7 situation in the Finals, means they’ve both traveled the road and made it here despite taking different paths. They are both successful, and only dumb fans who are prone to knee-jerk reactions will call either one a “failure” for dropping the deciding game of the season.

      • Larry Bradfield says:

        Great post………………..We have seen some SUPER basketball! Hate to see it all end………………really do!
        No matter who wins………………..both teams are winners…………………..and………………we fans are also winners. Where can you see basketball played any better?

  8. miniminer says:

    it will be a close one but in the end it will be a 2 peat for miami.. i believe the spurs just dont have enough gas in the tank

  9. LOLakers says:

    No chance!!! The Sperms are a bunch of old men!!! Go put on some Bengay!!!! LOL!!! This league belongs to Lebron James and it will for the next 10 years!!!! This is a good time for all of the old farts to retire so they don’t get humiliated by Lebron!!!! Heat 10-peat!!!!

    • TRP says:

      Show some respect you IDIOT They came to Game 7 because they are both great teams! I don’t hate LJ but I hate heat fans instead… Always a bunch of stupid who don’t know bball..just keep talking nonsense and showing no respect for the other teams

      • lucas says:

        I don’t think lebron stays on top for 10 years. he’s already 28/29. maybe he can do it for more 4 or 5 years.

  10. underdog says:

    Even if the Heat wins this game I don’t think it won’t matter anymore for LeBron’s hated legacy.. This is a finals game between A TEAM BUILT THE RIGHT WAY vs A TEAM BUILT BY EXPLOITING A FLAW IN THE PAST CBA.. If the Heat wins.. it doesn’t matter to me and others as well. In our eyes.. LeBron will always be ringless until he wins a championship the right way.

    • bballjunkie1 says:

      You mean players don’t have the basketball IQ to know that by pairing up they have a chance? Built team organizations sometimes never win championships so what are we to make of that poor drafting, poor coaching, poor general managing? Just a fan of basketball, Spurs, Heat don’t matter both teams got here so lets enjoy the game drive 4 5 rings, repeat champions its all good. You must give credit where its due Lebron has been to the big dance 4 times that says something about his ability love him or hate him enjoy the game.

    • Game Time says:

      So if you were in Lebron or Bosh’s position to never win a title with your current team and the owners knew jack about basketball you would just stay with that franchise until traded?

      Here’s a rough perspective of Miami and how people are hypocrites. If you personally go to play basketball for fun or join a league, do you pick the worse team possible and try to win it all? No, you don’t. No one that has ever played a competitive sport wants to be on a sorry team, and in Lebron’s case the Cavs were VERY sorry. Look at the record once he left.

    • LOL says:

      @underdog….

      you are one $tup1d moron, why full of hatred? go back to your room and play with your barbie doll…..

    • Every second counts says:

      “A TEAM BUILT THE RIGHT WAY vs A TEAM BUILT BY EXPLOITING A FLAW IN THE PAST CBA.”

      The Lakers just built yet another super team under the NEW CBA. And most of the previous great teams in NBA history were built by exploiting flaws in the past CBAs. I don’t hear you crying about that.

      What it comes down to is some people really believe that they have the “moral high ground,” because of how they see things. Its just your opinion, clowns. Its your opinion that there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” to build a team. Its your opinion and it doesn’t make you right. It doesn’t justify your hate. Its like a catholic hating Jewish people over their religion. As if their way is wrong and the catholic way is right. So stupid.

    • AL says:

      what an uneducated comment, do you think Jordan or Majic or even Duncan won a ring alone. Of course not they had Pippen Karim & the admiral by their side perhaps you don’t recall that the gathering of the big 3 was in response to dominance of Celtics & their big 3 & even that was not the first time players of these calibers have teamed up. Is this big 3 really more uneven than Majic, Karim & Worthy.

    • Underdogs getsquashed says:

      Is that so…… So you mean he has to go to a team that has lower quality players. Bet you think Jordan is a great player, Magic, and Bird too. Look at their roster and ill name you 2 Hall of Fame players on each squad. No one talks about Boston and their big 3 ( when they were in their prime ). At the end Dont hate. Its very funny how haters keep Hating

      • Bruce Duan says:

        Yes, 3-big is a topic of disputed
        If a team has a 3-big, then thay win the game, people will say, OH, it’s a right decision to organize a 3-big
        But, if thay lose a game whick is some important, people will say, OH, rubbish of the 3-big

    • The Truth says:

      As you said, the team they formed was within the rules of the last CBA. It doesn’t matter how many hoops they had to go through to get it done as long as its legal. Hats off to Pat for making it happen.

      How the teams were built doesn’t matter now, all that matters is how the teams will play tonight. Go Spurs!

    • Kei says:

      i guess you got to take the rings away from kobe and shaq then. Maybe leave 3 for shaq but none for kobe.