Contrary to what the overreaction by the media and fans might imply, the NBA Finals is not over just yet.
One final game, Game 7 to be exact, will determine whether the Miami Heat have successfully defended their championship, or if the San Antonio Spurs have knocked them off their perch.
While the heartbreaking 103-100 overtime loss Tuesday night suggests that the overreaction might not be unfounded, the fact remains that the game must still be played.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think the series is over—not by a long shot.
When looking at all the factors working against San Antonio, though, it just might be.
Not only does Miami boast the best player in LeBron James, but the game will also be played on its home court. And while all of the momentum has seemingly shifted to the Heat, the Spurs are coming off one of the most deflating losses in sports history.
It doesn’t seem all that promising.
Still, call it a gut feeling, or a silly obligation to stick with my original pick, or even pure stubbornness in defending the ultimate homegrown basketball team against the ultimate cash-driven basketball juggernaut, but I’m picking the Spurs to bounce back and win Game 7.
I won’t throw statistics at you; unfortunately, none of them seem to back me up in this case, anyway.
Apparently no visiting team has won a Finals Game 7 on the road since 1978, according to Sebastian Christensen of ESPN.com. Add that to Miami’s endless list of advantages.
Here’s the thing; I don’t care about all of those advantages. Aside from that historic fourth quarter in Game 6, James hasn’t played as far above his competitors in this series as we’ve come to expect.
Oh, and what about that home court advantage? It’s kind of hard to capitalize on it when the fans have proven their worth, or lack of it, by leaving early in Game 6.
As for the momentum, clearly it means nothing in this series. Through six games, neither team has won two games in a row thus far. Teams as well coached and dominant as these two aren’t prisoners of the past; every game is a new game, the past one holding no power over the outcome of the next one.
At the end of the day, I’m picking the Spurs to win for one reason, and one reason alone: I firmly believe that they are the better team, as a whole.
From top to bottom, they are the class of the NBA.
Too many times it has been said this is LeBron James’ championship to lose.
Game 6 proved otherwise. It in fact turned out to be the opposite; it was Spurs’ Finals to lose, with Miami needing to snag victory out of the jaws of defeat.
Ironically, it will be each coach’s loyalty to his Big Three that will determine the outcome of the series. For San Antonio to expect Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to be anywhere near as bad as they were in Game 6 is foolish. They will bounce back.
Miami, however, is another story.
Individually, their Big Three has played better as the series has progressed. Here’s the dirty little secret though: if Erik Spoelstra relies on Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat will lose.
Wade, when healthy, is a fantastic basketball player. Wade, when hurt, is a detractor to LeBron James.
For everything he brings to the table, he takes away the two most important things James needs: spacing and shooting.
It’s no surprise that LeBron is better with Wade on the bench. It’s also no surprise that Spoelstra has been unwilling to sit his ailing Hall of Famer. Make no mistake, however, if Game 7 unfolds similarly to Game 6, the decision will have to be made and could decide the Finals.
In a game that has serious implications for legacies everywhere, I’m picking the team that is simply looking for that final stamp to cement its place in history.
At the end of Game 7, the San Antonio Spurs will be the new NBA Champions.