NBA Finals, Game 6: The Agony and The Ecstasy
Miami 103, San Antonio 100 (OT)
Series tied 3-3
Two missed free throws. Two 50/50 rebounds lost. 2 second opportunity 3-pointers.
Those are the enduring images of the devastating Game 6 loss for Spurs fans. If any one of those plays bounces just slightly differently, the Spurs have their 5th ring tonight. In a game of moments and inches, the Spurs lost just one too many in the final 30 seconds.
Of course, everything seemed to be turing their way in the moments prior. Up 10 to start the third, LeBron James happened. He was a devastating force on both ends, and the Heat seemed to grab control of the game. Then a Parker miracle 3, followed by another Parker play, a couple of stops, and the Spurs were in control.
Had the game swung the Spurs’ way, those are the moments and inches the Heat fans would be replaying for years to come.
That’s how close this series is. It’s exhilarating and basketball at its best, but it’s taxing on the hearts and nerves of impassioned fans.
I’m not even sure if I can write or think logically about this game. Manu was horrible; Tony was mostly bad with some huge moments, but clearly ran out of gas; Duncan was beyond brilliant in the first half, but was unable to counter the Heat’s focused defense in the second half; Green wasn’t open, but played solid D; Diaw was great; Leonard was quietly great, as always; Splitter was shell-shocked; Neal was Neal, both good and bad.
We’ll spend a lifetime wondering if Duncan might have secured one of those loose rebounds that led to the desparation 3s. I understand not playing Duncan in those situations (it’s so they can switch everything), but still…. And on the first missed rebound that led to the James 3, it sure looked like Diaw knocked it from Leonard’s usual vice-like hands.
For Miami, Wade looks like he is on empty. The Heat’s run came with him on the bench, the Spurs counter (in the last 3 minutes of regulation) started when he checked back in. LeBron seemed to be wilting, until he wasn’t. (For a stretch there, it appeared there might be 2 or 3 of him on the floor). Bosh may have had the most impactful 5 minutes of the series, blocking shots and snagging rebounds. Their shooters made shots. Their defense scrambled and was frantic enough.
Like most of you, I’m just emotionally spent. Imagine how these players must feel. History, momentum, and home court tell us that Miami is strongly favored for Thursday night’s Game 7. And they should be. But I’m not quite ready to write the Spurs’ epitaph just yet. If any team is mentally strong enough to fight through a Game 7 on the road, it’s these Spurs. Despite the loss, the Spurs still have more players playing well right now than Miami. Both teams seem emotionally and physically spent. And it would be fitting for the series to take one last crazy twist, for the Spurs to become the first team in over 3 decades to win a Game 7 on the road in the Finals. Everybody is going to be picking the Heat to win Game 7: and if we’ve learned one thing about this series, it’s that each game never turns out how it “should”.
Alas, the entirety of the NBA season comes down to one final game, between two amazing teams, with the world watching and so much at stake both immediately and historically.
One thing is for sure: we’re all going down fighting with the team we love.
5 for 21.
Go Spurs go.
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