The NBA Finals have reached Game 7. Only one thing stands between the Miami Heat winning back to back titles; the San Antonio Spurs.
It was so close to being over.
The Spurs were set to shock the Heat in Game 6 in Miami, taking the lead in stunning fashion with little more than a minute remaining. However the refs: Ray Allen came up huge and tied the game with a miracle three-pointer with 5 seconds left in the game to force overtime, where the Heat eventually sealed the deal to live to see a final game.
Which brings us here; Game 7’s take on a life of their own regardless of which sport it is or how much you follow it. There’s an all or nothing feeling that hangs over the arena where a Game 7 will be played, the only similar feeling would be a Super Bowl or playoff football where it’s win or go home every game.
History is on the line with this game as well, and not just for the Heat. Everyone knows the stakes for Miami. If they lose, that’ll be 2 finals lost in 3 years, LeBron’s greatness will be analyzed and questioned and Miami’s Big 3 will likely experience some type of shake up in the coming offseason. Last year, the Heat eased to a title in dominating fashion over the Thunder in 5 games but this year they’ve been forced out of their comfort zone and their tendencies to “flip the switch” have led to some of the biggest blowout losses in NBA Playoffs history.
On the flip side though, a lot is at stake for the Spurs. A road team has not won a Game 7 in 35 years. They’ve never lost an NBA Finals. They’re 4-0 when they’re playing for a championship and a win tonight would put them on par with the Bulls’ 6-0 record as the only two undefeated teams in the Finals’ series. If the Spurs lose tonight then it’s likely that Game 6 will face more scrutiny with everyone questioning Gregg Popovich’s decision to keep Tim Duncan out in the final seconds of regulation in order to guard the 3 more effectively (it was the right decision by the way.)
The excitement from this Game 7 comes down to the questions; Who will emerge? Will Tim Duncan have a big game again? Will Dwayne Wade finally show up? Tony Parker can’t keep shooting poorly can he? Did Manu Ginobli already retire? Can LeBron dominate the whole game? Will Danny Green return to the blistering shooting pace he was on before Game 6? Will LeBron wear a headband? Will Chris Bosh return to terrifying form? If the Spurs do win, who beats Danny Green for MVP?
What’s unfair in this situation though is regardless of how the game plays out, if Miami loses, the blame will fall on LeBron. While watching the end of Game 6 and thinking the Spurs were about to steal a title from under the Heat’s noses, Cameron and I noticed that LeBron was the only active Heat player on offense, he hucked up a few desperation 3s as the rest of his team just kind of stood around shocked. We sat there in shock at the discovery that he had no help, it wasn’t until he hit a 3 that they seemed to reemerge from their shocked stupor. Before that 3, LeBron already had a triple-double and if the Heat hadn’t miraculously won that game, you can imagine the analysis would’ve consisted of “LeBron choked under the biggest pressure” and “He’s no Jordan.”
Game 7’s are a winner-take-all, leave everything you have on the court battle that comes down to; who wants it more? Both teams will play 48 minutes with a nonstop, play like your entire life depends on it mentality because something more important than their lives is at stake: their legacies and how history will choose to remember those involved.
These are easily the two best teams in the NBA this season, these playoffs have been tremendous and fans couldn’t have asked for a better Finals matchup. That it goes to Game 7 for just the 6 time in 30 years shows you how even and up-in-the-air this series has been. The Heat are just too flat-out talented to be blown out for too long and the Spurs are too resilient and prideful to just roll over for King James and the Heat.
For all of this talk of legacies, storylines and history, Game 7 can be summed up quite simply: What happens when an unstoppable basketball force (LeBron James) meets an immovable object (The Spurs)?
No matter what happens, we’ll all be witnesses to something great.