(Jesus, please be a pacemaker or oxygen tank tomorrow.)
If you haven’t suffered from random heart palpitations, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, or high blood pressure over the past week, it’s safe to assume that you haven’t been following the NBA Finals. How unfortunate….
The basketball gods (or Mr. Stern) have truly blessed us fans with a series matchup for the ages. The San Antonio Spurs are battling for their 5th NBA title with the same, yet older, core cast who got them their existing 4: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Coach Greg “Pop” Popovich. The defending champions Miami Heat are fighting to keep and win their 2nd consecutive title with the superstar core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Coach Erik Spoelstra. Both teams have had their backs against the wall throughout the series, with neither one winning a back-to-back at any point, and with the 4 out of 6 games resulting in a blowout win. There have been an abundance of signature moments. The Spurs have hidden gems that were part of their perfect showcase of team basketball, finally putting to rest their reputation of being “boring”. These guys include the newest 3pt record holder Danny Green (STRONG ISLAND STAND UP!), the unlikely “LeBron stopper” Boris Diaw, and scoring cannons Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard. The Heat have given us the rebirth of “Flash” (the pre-Lebron version of D-Wade), and Mario Chalmers who quietly dominated Game 2. Both teams have also dragged us through some low points as well. The Heat have been unusually inconsistent and passive this series, while the Spurs have had an inconsistent Ginobli and questionable coaching from Pop at times.
Game 6, however, set a new tone and may have shifted the momentum of the remainder of the series. The Heat went into the game down 3-2, facing elimination. The Spurs dominated most of the game, with Duncan playing with a sense of urgency that made it clear he wasn’t entertaining the possibility of a Game 7. That all changed w/ a little over 30 sec. left in the 4th quarter, where we witnessed Miami rally together to force the game into OT, and surviving elimination with a 103-100 victory.
So now that game 7 is set, who will take it all? Well, even though we’ve reached the final game of the series, it still remains a very difficult question to answer. Both teams have answered the bell when they’re backed up in a corner. Both teams have left all of their emotions and energy on the court during Game 6. Both teams have an arsenal that is fully capable of putting the final nail in the coffin and snatching the title. The only real difference makers though?
1) Spurs have Popovich
It’s no secret that Pop is one of the greatest masterminds to coach a major league sports team. He has definitely flexed his muscles throughout this matchup, particularly during Game 5. After letting the title slip out of their fingers in game 6 though, it’s safe to say that he will conjure up something rare to seal the deal (perhaps a T-Mac appearance? #ijs).
2) Heat have youth
Being the last 2 teams standing after a 9-month season isn’t only mentally and emotionally draining, but physically taxing as well. Both teams are just plain exhausted and it has been very noticeable from game to game. However, the Spurs may not have much left in the tank after their stellar performance in the last game. They put their ALL in making sure that they sealed the deal, but since they came up short, the veteran-aged core of Duncan, Parker, and Manu (aged 37, 31, and 35 respectively) may have their hands full come Game 7 with an emotionally-recharged and younger Heat roster. With the Heat having home court advantage as well, it may not surprise many if the Larry O’Brien trophy remains in South Beach.
You can catch all of the action of what will be an epic ending to an epic series tonight on ABC at 9 pm. In the meantime:
Health insurance info on hand? Check.
911 on speed dial? Check.
Ice water in case I lose my voice? Check.
OK. I’m ready now. May the best team win :-)
(*ICYMI, click here for the biggest plays of this finals series*)