My stomach’s queasy.
My head hurts.
I need a drink…..
These are the things that were rattling through my mind after watching the epic Game 6 nail biter between the Miami Heat & the San Antonio Spurs, the first truly great game of a weirdly played series. This is probably the weirdest NBA Finals that I can remember watching. This NBA Finals resembles one of the Rocky boxing scenes where Rocky throws continuous flurries of jabs, and haymakers that all land because the boxer during the exchange forgets to try to defend any of the punches coming his way. Only to then have it happen to him minutes later in the scene when it’s his turn to drop the gloves, and his opponent starts wailing on him. The only thing that’s missing right now is Adrianne crying uncontrollably on Miami’s courtside seats beside the white haired woman. The repeated blowouts, the lapses of concentration from both teams, the flurries of runs from both teams from game to game, if you didn’t know any better, you would think this pattern of win one-lose one is as choreographed and staged as those Rocky scenes before the director says cut. Outside of Game 1, this has been an odd series to follow and watch… until Tuesday night. With the stakes being high and everything on the line for both teams: from the way San Antonio controlled the game for three quarters, to the frantic Miami comeback and finish, it will go down as the best game of the year as well as one of the best NBA Finals game ever, as it’s destined to be replayed over and over again on NBA TV. As we go into Game 7, here are a few things to recap:
THE SPURS BLEW A WASTED OPPORTUNITY. More importantly, they wasted an absolute throwback game from Tim Duncan. Back in his prime, around the time when he was collecting back to back MVPs & winning titles every other year, he would drop the hammer down during elimination games when his team needed it most. As he gets older, there are only so many games like this that this 37-year old great has left in the reserves. Sensing that he was so close to winning his 5th ring in his career, he came out and put on a clinic on the Heat as if he were going after his 1st, scoring 25 points in the first half alone. The most he has scored in any half in his whole playoff career. He raised the energy of his teammates, while killing the spirit of the Heat players and sucking the life out of the arena. By the end of the 3rd quarter, it looked as if Miami was dazed and defeated. Then in the 4th, Miami turned up the defence, and the Spurs were giving them back the ball like an undercooked Rib Eye to a waiter at a steakhouse. Before you knew it, the game was tied and it became a dogfight until the final buzzer of OT. This was the time where the Spurs players were supposed to help Duncan out. If they even took care of the ball half as bad as they did and made their free throws, we would be talking about how incredible Timmy’s Game 6 performance was, and trying to figure out where to rank it in historical context of the NBA Finals history. If San Antonio loses this game tonight, this throwback game gets tossed on the closet floor like an old T-shirt & no one will remember it, which is a damn shame. Duncan was supposed to leave American Airlines Arena early Wednesday morning with the Larry O’Brien trophy and possibly his 4th NBA Finals MVP. Instead, they face the task of being the first team since the 1978 Washington Bullets to win a Game 7 NBA Finals on the road. I’m still shaking my head here….
LEBRON’S BAD/GREAT GAME. Years from now we’ll look at the stats of the game & say, “Wow, LeBron really came through with that triple double”, or “King James really owned that game”, but anyone watching that game was wondering if he was slowly becoming undone by the pressure of having their backs against the wall. Taking bad shots and still looking to distribute the ball even when the Spurs had their foot on his team’s throat, it took his headband getting knocked off for him to unleash all of his athletic talents on the floor. Taking over the 4th quarter with 18 points and imposing his effort and will on the game, the Heat completed their maniacal comeback and had a 3 point lead with less than 90 seconds to play……then Tony Parker drained that 3 in his face to tie the game. All of a sudden, LeBron made two critical mistakes, Parker capitalized, & the Spurs were up by five. Had it not been for Ray Allen’s beautiful 3 of his own to tie the game at 95, this would have haunted LeBron’s offseason as much as when he lost to the Mavericks two years ago. If you compared him to Duncan through three quarters, Duncan was leaving everything on the floor while LeBron looked like he was coasting through a game vs. the Bobcats in January. When someone is as good as he is, shouldn’t we know it at all times? This is the 3rd time in 4 years that he looked as if his brain was subconsciously checking out during an elimination game where his team was down in the series. Call me spoiled by the Bird/Magic/Jordan era that I grew up in, but I’d like to never question the mindset of the best player in the league during one of his biggest moments. Once you enter those prime years as the best player in the league, those moments cannot be wasted by these things. Not when you’re staking your claim alongside the all-time greats. Even if he’s missing shots, we should be leaving the game saying, “Man, he was really off tonight”, instead of thinking, “Is he checking out again”??? Having a conversation with my friend Les last night, he said it best: “It’s almost as if LeBron needs the perfect circumstances around him to get the optimal performance out of himself”. Right opponent, right situation depending on where they are in the series, he will dominate & almost eclipse that game itself like the sun. If his team is down in an elimination game and the supreme pressure is on him, you can see that weary signature look on his face. When the pressure hits like it did late in Game 6, you can almost see the wires frying in his head. It’s a harsh reality for him (almost unfair), but when you win 4 MVP’s and you’re in the prime of your career surrounded by two All Stars in Wade & Bosh, that expectation comes with the territory.
WHY CRAWFORD? The NBA for years have been fighting the image of them fixing games or having conspiracy-like overtones surrounding their playoff games, with everything coming to an apex when the Tim Donahy scandal happened. So why would the NBA assign Joey Crawford, the NBA referee with the most negative personal history against the Spurs to ref such a pivotal game? Why even entertain the thought of putting him out there? I mean, it’s not exactly a secret that the Spurs have past issues with Crawford. I don’t care if he’s in the Finals rotation, I’m almost positive they could have gotten another competent referee to ref Game 6. I’m not saying he affected the outcome of the game & I don’t blame him for the Spurs giving up the victory Tuesday night, but by doing this, you understand why the conspiracy theorists continue to come out the woodworks. Anyhow he refs Game 7…..
The funny thing about this series is that after the excitement of Game 6, and the generating buzz of a Finals Game 7, it might not even match the buzz created by Jay-Z & Samsung during Game 5, taking over the whole commercial block between the end of the 2nd Quarter and the Halftime show. The announcement of his new LP, “Magna Carta Holy Grail” was in short, an incredible marketing ploy for both parties. Samsung found an innovative way to promote their phones, tablets, and apps, while Hov started an innovative buzz on his new LP, while at the same time going platinum before his LP touched a shelf or an online store. Between this & his simmering takeover of the Sports Agency world, he is redefining the game on how to do business in music and sports. You can read about the Samsung deal here….. 8 game winning streak huh? Can the Blue Jays come back to take one of the wild card spots? It’s June, it’s not too late, but they have to continue to play as well on the field as they apparently did in the offseason….. I like the move of Jason Kidd becoming a head coach. I think he has a great basketball mind as one of the best point guards to ever play in the NBA. As long as he has the right assistant coaches surrounding him, he can definitely make this work to his favor…. if he was coaching The Raptors. For a playoff team with title aspirations in the next two to three years in Brooklyn, this was the wrong move. Lionel Hollins or George Karl gets hired to coach this team? I’m fine with this. I feel like this was a splashy move to appease the owner as well as the media, but they should only be worried about getting wins, not making publicity wins in the New York market…..
My Game 7 prediction… I’ll stick with my original prediction & say the Heat win tonight, and by 10+ points. I don’t see how the Spurs come back & take Game 7 after what happened on Tuesday, no matter how much it bucks the trend that no team has won 2 straight games. It’s extremely hard to win a Finals Game 7 on the road. IF by miracle or prayer Tim Duncan repeats his Game 6 performance, then it will be a much closer game. The crowd’s energy & the calls will be on the Heat’s side, & by midnight, they should be popping bottles. Hopefully, we don’t get another version of this.
Cal Cee // South Shore Ave
To subscribe to The Baseline Blog, click onto the Follow button or by entering your email address.