Game 6 is tonight. The San Antonio Spurs travel to American Airlines Arena to face the Miami Heat tonight at 9:00 EDT on ABC.
Will this be the end of the big three? Will this validate the questions that critics have had about LeBron James since the 2007 Finals? Is this the game that will finally take LeBron James off his pedestal?
In short, no. The Miami Heat will win Game 6 of these NBA Finals for a number of reasons that do not have anything to do with the game, and a number of reasons that do.
First, the reasons that people have been throwing out for the past couple days that have nothing to do with the game:
-The Spurs have to come back down to Earth sometime.
-The series has gone back and forth each game.
-The Miami Heat haven't lost back to back games since January.
-The Miami Heat are the best team in the NBA.
None of those reasons will factor into tonight, because the playoffs are a game by game monster, and besides game 1, each game has been a must-win for the team that has won the game. All that matters tonight are the players and the coaches. When the Spurs lose this game, it will have nothing to do with the idea that what goes up must come down, because their shooters could very well hold up tonight and come down all next season. The up-and-down nature of the series' is purely a matter of who need's the game more, and tonight the Spurs need this game just as bad as the Heat, as many people do not believe they can win it in a Game 7 situation.The Heat's propensity to win games after a loss is countered by the fact that the Spurs are 14-2 in the last 10 years when given the opportunity to close out series' on the road. Calling the Heat the best team in the league is arguable at best, especially given Dwyane Wade's knee injury and Chris Bosh's soft play, and LeBron's recent fatigue issues.
The 6 biggest match-ups in tonight's game 6:
Gregg Popovich vs. Erik Spoelstra:
Popovich is obviously the better and more experienced coach in this match-up, and he has 4 titles to his credit. However, Spoelstra has been in the title 3 years in a row, and he is no pushover. He called out his players on being exposed by one-on-one matchups with Parker and Ginobili in Game 5, and hopes to engineer a different outcome.
LeBron James vs. LeBron James
I firmly believe that there has never been another athlete with as much potential and ability as LeBron. Nodody can convince me otherwise. However, if he can't help counter the Spur's scoring runs, his 25 point games will be meaningless. It is most important for him to take over the game when the Spurs are hot, because he cannot be stopped by anyone but himself. The Spurs went on at least two double digit runs last game. The Heat rebounded from the first, but were unable to recover after a 75-74 deficit became a 87-75 Spurs lead in the 4th quarter.
Tony Parker vs. Heat Defenders
This is the key. The Spurs run through Tony Parker. When the Heat outscored the Spurs by 18 points in the second half of game 4, Parker had 0 points and 3 assists. Preventing him from getting to the basket and distributing the basketball is preventing the Spurs from winning the game.
Heat Shooters vs. Spurs New Big Three
Danny Green, Gary Neal, and Kawhi Leonard make up what I would like to refer to as the new big three. All three of these guys have the ability to score 20 or more points in a game, and if any of them do that tonight, the Heat are in trouble. On the Contrary, the role players on the Heat have the ability to score some big time points as well. Ray Allen is arguably the greatest shooter in NBA History, Mike Miller had 7 three's in the closeout game last year, and of course "The Chalmers Game" where D-Wade had these praises for his point guard afterwards.
Pain vs. Gain
No pain, no gain is what I have always learned. Dwyane Wade looks like he is in extreme pain every time he over exerts himself on a play, constantly grimacing, or coming off the court to get massaged, or even going back into the locker room every once in a while. For the past two games, he has been able to overcome the pain and produce the way he has for the past 10 years. However, its hard to believe that he will be able to keep this up with little rest.
Tim Duncan vs. Chris Bosh
The bigs have not been at the forefront of this series, but they very well could play a huge part in tonight's game. Chris Bosh has had a double double in each of the Heat's wins, while only having 1 in the 3 losses. The same goes for Duncan: he has played much better in their wins. Chris Andersen has not played in the last two games, which may have to change tonight because the Heat are consistently having match-up issues inside and out. I expect Bosh to see some time at power forward tonight, where he likes to step out and shoot three pointers. If he does, do not be surprised if the Veboshiraptor reappears, as it took him 65 million years to win his first NBA title and he is ready for another one.
P.S. Always expect a Hard Day's Night against the Heatles.