NBA Finals 2013: Players Who Must Step Up in Deciding Game 7
The 2013 NBA Finals found their signature moment as the Miami Heat stormed back to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in a thrilling Game 6. As exhilarating a performance as that may have been, however, we're not done yet.
Game 7 remains on the horizon and there are numerous players that need to step up and lead their respective teams to victory.
Ray Allen made the signature play of Game 6, draining a contested three-pointer with 5.2 seconds remaining to tie it up at 95-95. In turn, the Heat forced overtime and the rest was history. Allen later sealed the game with two key free throws and Chris Bosh blocked Danny Green's game-tying attempt.
Don't expect either team to let up come Game 7.
As remarkable as Game 6 may have been, numerous players performed at a below-average level compared to their individual standards. Should they decide to show up for the entirety of Game 7, we could be looking at yet another classic.
Regardless of how the game transpires, however, certain players are under a significant amount of pressure to step up and lead their squad to victory.
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Chris Bosh was huge during Game 6, stepping up in the fourth quarter and overtime on a number of different plays. From offensive rebounds to game-saving blocks, we saw it all from the former Georgia Tech star.
The question is, where was he for the first 36 minutes?
In fact, Tim Duncan has had his way with Bosh thus far.
There are a lot of people writing Tim Duncan off as spent, but this is far from his first rodeo. While he may be 37 years old, here's something that we should keep in mind before we call him "amazing for his age."
Duncan was the only player in the NBA, regardless of age, to average at least 17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocks per game.
If the Heat are to win Game 7, they'll need more than 20 minutes of strong play from Bosh. They'll need him to prove that he's still a superstar and not just a glorified role player.
Keep in mind, Bosh has topped 20 points just twice in his past 25 games.
In Game 7, it's time that we see the player that became a star by averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in Toronto. If he fails to step up, then all of those who make the mistake of writing Duncan off on this stage will see just how slim a margin for error there is.
It's time Bosh earns his money.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
During Game 5 of the 2013 NBA Finals, Manu Ginobili reminded us why he's going to the Hall of Fame by posting 24 points and 10 assists. One game later, Ginobili showed why some have written him off as a player past his prime by scoring nine points in 35 minutes.
The Spurs will need a vintage performance if they're going to win Game 7.
Much has been made of the Miami Heat's extraordinary Game 6 comeback, and rightfully so. The fact of the matter is, Ginobili attempted just five field goals during Game 6 and committed an absurd eight turnovers.
To say the Spurs weren't at their best would be a disturbing understatement.
If Ginobili can give the Spurs a fraction of his production from Game 5, they may have enough to pull out the road win. If he fails to produce offensively, however, the Spurs must consider going with other options.
Ginobili's legacy is safe, but the Spurs will not be if he fails to show up—again.
Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
For the first time during the 2013 NBA Finals, San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Danny Green looked vulnerable in Game 6. He went 1-for-7 from the floor and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc, thus marking the first time all series that he failed to make at least three three-pointers.
He'll need to turn things around quickly if the Spurs stand any chance of winning Game 7.
Green doesn't need to put on a shooting spree, but when he's turned to, he must fare better than 1-of-7. The Spurs were helpless down the stretch, failing to score as LeBron James took over and thus allowing the Heat to get back into the game.
Had Green seen at least one more of his seven field-goal attempts fall, we may not be having this conversation.
With that being said, there is no time for ifs and maybes, but instead an opportunity for Green to step up when he's needed. Already the Spurs' front-runner for Finals MVP, Green must not let the big stage get to him.
The Spurs live and die by the pick-and-roll, so having shooters is critical to their success—that burden falls in Green's lap for Game 7.
LeBron James, Miami Heat
It's gut-check time.
LeBron James was masterful during the fourth quarter of Game 6, scoring 18 points and leading his team to within striking distance. While Ray Allen's game-tying three-pointer will be forever remembered, it was LeBron's earlier three-ball that made such a shot possible.
Just like we asked with Chris Bosh, however, we must ask with LeBron—where was he for 36 minutes?
LeBron has had a strange NBA Finals series, producing at an elite level but playing at a below-average level per his standards. While the numbers may just win him the Finals MVP award, all unbiased viewers know the truth.
This is the most vulnerable we've seen LeBron in quite some time.
In Game 7, all eyes will be on LeBron, as he attempts to solidify his status as one of the best to ever play. While no one will debate his talent, going 1-for-4 in NBA Finals appearances is a great way to damage your resume.
Fair or foul, this will game decide if the Michael Jordan comparisons ever become valid.
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