After Game 6 all of the comments were about how it was one of the greatest playoff games ever - some people putting it in the top 5 of all time. What I saw was one team jumping out to a fairly substantial lead, then the other team going out to a similar lead, etc. etc. What made it compelling was the final 30 seconds and the Heat making big plays while the Spurs made some uncharacteristic mistakes for a team with a championship pedigree.
Last night’s game, however, was so much better, although each team did play somewhat beneath their capability. Except for some early sluggish play due, no doubt, to fatigue and nerves, the intensity of effort was fantastic and the game stayed close until the final couple possessions when LeBron James’ short jumper put the Heat up four. Until that point, the big plays - made by the stars and the “others,” e.g. Shane Battier and Kawhi Leonard - made the contest feel like a heavyweight title bout with the two fighters going toe to toe, exchanging punches. When the game ended, even the normally reserved Greg Anthony tweeted that it was the best Game 7 he’d ever seen.
The bottom line as to why Miami won: San Antonio had to make a decision with their game plan. Wade and James are phenomenal players, especially LBJ. Since you can’t take away everything, the question becomes “What do we give them (him)?” In the cases of both Wade and James, the Spurs decided to make them beat them from the outside, i.e. make them shooters and take away drives to the bucket. That was probably the best strategy since the Spurs don’t have any defenders who can keep Miami’s big two out of the paint (does anybody?). It’s just that the two guys, once again especially LeBron, hit open shots. Had they (he) not been so hot (mainly James from three), it would have been Miami having to come up with answers.
The MVP of the NBA easily could have been Pat Riley. And not only for putting together the Big
Three Two but surrounding them with exactly what they needed, mainly knock-down shooters. In addition, on an extremely talented team, an energy guy like Chris “Birdman” Andersen (who also happens to be a very good athlete) was a marvelous pick up. One thing that was exposed is that it is now time for all of us to realize that Chris Bosh is a good complementary piece to a championship team but anyone who calls the Miami Heat the Big Three must be referring to Wade, James and . . . Riley . . . or maybe Spoelstra. Bosh was a big-time scorer for Toronto because he was their best player, had the green light, took advantage of it by being a volume shooter and put up big numbers - for a losing team. The Heat should now officially be referred to as James, Wade . . . and friends. As well as “back-to-back World Champions.”
On another note, it’s amazing the insensitivity of the people asking questions to Parker, Duncan and Ginobli - directly after such a devastating loss. Examples: “How does it feel that this might be the last time this group plays together?” “With 23 seconds to go, Tony was on the bench. Why?” (This was asked to Manu). The identical question was put to Tony - who answered it by saying, “It was Pop’s idea and I never question Pop.” (Do you think the person who posed the question is as loyal to his boss as Parker is to his?) Brent “Bones” Barry, who was a member on not one, but two of the Spurs’ championship squads, said “Ego’s a word that’s never been used with the Spurs.”
When you hear Ginobli, as honest any player in the league, answer, “There’s such a fine line between celebrating and having a great summer, and feeling like crap,” you understand how much work the guys put in just to win a championship. Nothing else matters. To make such a commitment and come up as short as the Spurs did - in both Games 6 & 7 - you’d think the media would be a little more compassionate. Sure, they have a job to do but it’s almost (almost?) like they’re trying to bait someone into saying something that will make for a sensational story, even if it’s something later on they wish they hadn’t said because of the timing of the question.
Although Miami won the championship, the final quote by someone named Rensis Likert, seems to sum up the attitude of the Spurs:
“The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and the greater the probability that the group will achieve its goals.”