In a series that has had dramatic swings by the game, Miami returns home where they face the brink of elimination. Miami won by 19 points in their last home game, but a lot of time has passed by between now and then. It’s also extremely important to note that every playoff game the Heat have lost, they have bounced back and redeemed themselves by torching their opponent in the next game.
But all that is the past and, right now, game 6 is the only concern to the Heat and the Spurs. Let me give you a few reasons why this situation is different from all the other times Miami has lost in the postseason:
This is the NBA Finals, which means Miami faces the ultimate pressure. We’ve seen LeBron James rise to the occasion when his team needs him, but we’ve also seen him crumble with the series on the line (against Dallas in 2011). It isn’t clear how much pressure James feels or how nervous he is. However, it is clear that his team needs him to play like a bonafide hero in game 6.
Secondly, the Heat aren’t just facing any great team. They are dealing with a franchise that knows, very well, how to close out a series, particularly the NBA Finals. Tim Duncan has been there more than enough to understand what he and his team need to do to, once again, rise as world champions. We know that he, Tony Parker, and Gregg Popovich are all on the same page and very rarely do they lose one another.
In game 6, experience is more of a positive factor for the San Antonio Spurs. It matters for Miami, but not as much, because they are the team at risk of losing this series. No matter how young or how experienced they are, the Heat have to play their hearts out and figure out a way to consistently score. It shouldn’t be considered silly to believe that Popovich has Miami figured out after 5 games.
The Heat love nothing better than to get out in the open court and shine for the highlight reel, but that hasn’t been easy against an assertive Spur team. Miami’s half court offense has been a big problem in this series. In game 5, Miami was not able to capitalize enough off San Antonio’s plentiful 18 turnovers. Every Heat player needs to make sure he is on his toes and reacting as quick as possible.
I’m not saying it’s a definite, but let’s just assume that both James and Wade are on their A-games tomorrow night. That isn’t going to cut it in order for Miami to cruise to a victory. Role players are going to be so important and that means Erik Spoelstra has crucial decisions to make. Their point guard play has been subpar for the majority of the series. What kind of lineup will “Spo” choose to employ?
San Antonio has had some very encouraging signs throughout the series: the Spurs won game 3 and the winner of game 3 is 12-1 in the history of the 2-3-2 format. Danny Green broke the record for most three-pointers made in the finals as he has an incredible 25 through five games. San Antonio, as a whole, has been shooting with great confidence and efficiency. The last sign is that the Spurs have kept James under control for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be significantly harder to slow him down in Miami, but their defensive strategy against LBJ has clearly worked.
It’s all on the line for LeBron James and the Miami Heat. James is 28 years old and his legacy could really use a championship in 2013. If the Heat lose tomorrow night, that so-called “super-team” won’t look so hot after-all. So what is it going to be, gentleman: will you force a game 7 or let Popovich and the Spurs walk away with their fifth title in 15 years?
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