One free-throw. One rebound. That’s how close the San Antonio Spurs were to sending the Miami Heat and LeBron James into “rethink greatness mode.” One Ray Allen bomb from downtown is all it took to the Heat to snatch the victory from the Spurs.
A question stands as the Finals head into Game Seven: will the near-miss fuel the Spurs for an epic win, or an epic loss?
I just have to bring up bad omens at this point.
“We seen the championship board already out there, the yellow tape. And you know, that’s why you play the game to the final buzzer,” James said.
Watching the end of Game Six everyone could plainly see the security personnel crouching around court. I’m not going to say that the NBA is purposely trying to throw the Spurs off their game, but I think the same rules apply to baseball when a pitcher has a no-hitter going - you don’t talk about the no-hitter. Or just like Fight Club - there is no Fight club. Otherwise, you are tempting the basketball gods to do something crazy. And that’s what seemed to happen when Kawhi Leonard missed a free-throw that would have put the Spurs up by 4 points with less than 20 seconds to go. Not to mention the temptation that Spurs’ Gregg Popovich felt to sit Tim Duncan on what turned out to be a game changing play that saw Ray Allen tie the score and send the game into overtime.
But let us get back what has actually been happening this series.
Both teams have been trading wins this championship series, conventional wisdom dictates that the Spurs are set to win the next game. But Popovich and company are working against history, because since the current 2-3-2 home-away-home was instituted in 1985, no team has yet to win a Game Seven on the road. But if there was ever a team that could be counted on to be the likeliest of candidates to break the tendencies of history, that team would undoubtedly have to be the 2013 version of the San Antonio Spurs.
There are signs that you cannot simply count out the Spurs after such a disheartening loss. Duncan shot 10 for 12 in the first half of Game 6, finishing with 30 points on the night – the most he had scored in the NBA Finals since the 2003 Finals series against my beloved New Jersey (Brooklyn) Nets.
The Spurs did lead by five points with 28 seconds to go. And history tells us that Game Sevens have actually been won by the road teams prior to 1985. History also tells us that the 1974 Boston Celtics actually lost a Game Six (albeit at home) against the Milwaukee Bucks, but went on to win Game Seven on the road.
In regards to the Heat’s statistics and tendencies, things do not exactly look to be in their favor. If anyone remembers, the Heat have lost their last six games following a win. And the Spurs have not lost a back-to-back game since mid-December when they have Duncan, Parker and Ginobili active in the lineup.
“We know the opportunity we let slip through our fingers,” said Duncan after the game. :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.”
One thing that you do not do is doubt The Big Fundamental.