NBA Finals 2013: How the Miami Heat Won Game 6 and Forced a Game 7
Just in case you were without some form of electronics last night or were living under a rock, the Miami Heat came back with a 103-100 Game 6 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs last night. The win saves the legacy of both the Miami Heat and LeBron James—for now.
When all looked lost in the closing moments of Game 6 as James missed a game-tying three-pointer, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen both made defining plays to allow the Heat to force overtime and eventually win the game.
As everyone tries to pick up the pieces the day after an epic Game 6, including the Spurs themselves who were about thisclose to winning their fifth ring, what exactly happened last night?
Did the Spurs blow it or did the Heat win it? Did James have another performance like his Game 6 effort in Boston during last year's Eastern Conference Finals? Or was it the role players who helped extend the series?
The answers (or some of them) await you.
Sometimes the biggest difference in an NBA game, let alone an NBA Finals game, is the role players that flank the stars on each team. The general thinking is role players play better at home than they do on the road. Whether this is due to familiarity of the court, playing in front of the home crowd or sleeping in their own bed, role players seem to perform better at home.
None of this is more evident than in last night's Game 6 victory for the Heat over the Spurs. The collection of Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier outplayed the Spurs collection of Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal and Boris Diaw.
Let's look at the statistics from last night for comparison:
The Heat role players combined for 46 points compared to the Spurs total of 20. Even if you want to include the 22 points that Kawhi Leonard added, the Heat players still edged the Spurs in that category by a score of 46-42.
More importantly, the Heat players were a combined 10-of-14 from beyond the arc, while the Spurs were 2-of-9.
Compare this to how they played in the previous three games at San Antonio and you can see the difference. Outside of Ray Allen, who had 39 points in the three games away from Miami, Battier combined for nine points, Miller had no points and two shots in the last two games in San Antonio and Chalmers had 13 points combined in three games as well.
Limiting Danny Green
Danny Green has arguably become one of, if not the, top priority for the Miami Heat in this series. All series long he has been on fire, having hit an NBA Finals record 25 three-pointers in the first five games of the series. That record broke Ray Allen's total of 22 during the seven game series against the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals.
So, as Chris Yuscavage from Complex.com reported, before Game 6, Chris Bosh stated Danny Green "won't be open tonight." The Heat backed up Bosh's words as Green shot 1-of-7 from the field, and more importantly, 1-of-5 from three.
After going 25-38 from three in the first five games of the series, limiting the Spur's sharp-shooter was a key in pushing the series to a seventh game.
Oh yea, it must've been nice for Bosh to do this to Green to end the game, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.
Defense Defense Defense
Defense wins championships right? Isn't that the old saying?
Well, fortunately for the Heat they finally got back to doing the one thing that made them a championship team: Defense.
Courtesy of NBA.com, the Heat have allowed opponents to shoot 41 percent from the field in their 15 wins this postseason, and 49 percent in their seven losses. Additionally, in the 15 wins, their opponents' three point percentage is 33.3 percent compared to the 40.2 percent the opponents shot in their seven losses.
Finally, in the Heat's three wins they have held the Spurs to 84, 93 and 100 points, which average out to be 92.3 points per game. Meanwhile, in their losses they have allowed the Spurs to score 92, 113, and 114 points, which averages out to 106.3 points per game.
So yes, just in case you needed any convincing, defense does indeed win championships.
For all the criticism James deserved for his poor play during the better part of this series, he quieted the critics and awoke in the fourth quarter. Whether it was the now infamous white headband, the yellow tape being placed around the court, as reported by Brett Pollakoff of NBCsports.com, or the desperation of losing yet another NBA Finals, James went off in the fourth quarter.
James got going with a couple dunks, which translated to a huge block on Tim Duncan on the defensive end, and then him going 7-of-9 in the paint to help the Heat in their comeback bid.
Not to be lost in the late-game comeback was his stellar triple double. With his 32 point, 10 rebound and 11 assist effort in Game 6, he joined Charles Barkley, James Worthy, and Jerry West as the only players to achieve 30-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and 10-plus assists in an NBA Finals game.
Not too shabby, huh?
It is to be noted that he did have some miscues during some crucial moments towards the end of the game, which he openly admitted during the post-game interview with ESPN's Doris Burke. While he may also need to buy Ray Allen whatever he wants for hitting the game tying three-pointer, this much should be said, the Heat wouldn't have been in a position to win without him.
The Spurs Lacked Composure
One of the many factors that helped the Heat push the NBA Finals to a Game 7 was the uncharacteristic lack of composure the Spurs showed in the fourth quarter. After being up by 10 heading into the final frame, the Spurs, in essence, kind of choked.
Although the Spurs only committed 13 turnovers, eight of which were attributed to Manu Ginobili's poor performance, the Spurs turned the ball over four times in the final 4:24 of the fourth quarter and overtime. Three of those turnovers were of Ginobili's doing as well.
They also had their five shots blocked in the fourth quarter and overtime as well. Additionally, Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard missed two free throws in the final 28 seconds of the game that would have sealed the victory.
Oh yea, did I mention that they allowed James to make six-of-seven shots within two feet of the basket? All of a sudden the Spurs defense that seemed to have all the answers for the four-time MVP seemed to have none. They allowed James to get to anywhere he wanted to.
Those kinds of errors are not the kind usually associated with a championship-caliber team such as the Spurs.
If they want to look at where the wheels came off, they have no one to blame but their lackluster play in the fourth quarter.
Tim Duncan's Lackluster Second Half
Early on in Game 6 Tim Duncan looked like vintage Tim Duncan. He had an amazing first half that included 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting and accounting for half of the Spurs' 50 points at halftime.
Duncan was poised for one of the best games of his career. However, what seemed like near certainty, resulted in failure.
Courtesy of NBA.com, look at what happened to Duncan in the second half. He was truly a different player. He scored five points on 2-of-8 shooting and did not score, as pointed out, for the final 21:30 of the game!
Talk about a tale of two halves for arguably the greatest power forward of all-time.
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