The Miami Heat overcame a 13 point deficit thanks to one of the finest fourth quarter performances of the season from everybody in white.
The Heat really do seem to have a switch they can flip on and off at will and when they turned it on Tuesday night, Magic was what we got. Whether it was James’ second chance late three pointer to make it a three point game or Allen’s corner three that tied it with just seconds left, the Heat had the answers when they needed them down the stretch.
The Spurs did their best to fight it off continuously stretching the lead back out after the Heat would get close. Parker in particular, was incredible in the fourth, at one point draining a three pointer, grabbing a steal and scoring again in 45 seconds.
A brilliant game from Tim Duncan, 30 points and 14 rebounds, will sadly be remembered just as much for his lack of an impact in the second half and the waning moments, having scored just five points in the final 24 minutes. But it wasn’t the impact the Heat had on Duncan that cost San Antonio the game, but rather game five standout Manu Ginobili.
Single handedly responsible for eight turnovers on the night, Ginobili had a nightmare of a game six. His position in the starting lineup had very little impact on the game as he scored a mere nine points and with the game on the line in overtime, stupidly gave the ball away with his final turnover of the night on a drive into the lane.
To Miami’s credit, their defensive play was on point throughout the night. The defensive effort was highlighted by the play of Bosh in the final minute who swatted two shots including Danny Green’s falling attempt to tie the game as time expired and finished the night with three steals. While his 10 points and 11 rebounds doesn’t resemble the play of a superstar, Bosh earned his check last night thanks to the other things that he did.
For a brief period of time, it looked like the legacy of the Heat, and in particular that of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, was remarkably close to suffering some damage. But James threw the team on his back in the fourth, not allowing San Antonio’s stringent, “limit him to the perimeter” defense to keep from the basket.
Going 8-of-14 from the floor in the fourth and overtime, James notched another triple-double finishing with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. As the game wore down, he didn’t need Bosh to do anything but play defense and as it turned out, the Heat didn’t even really need the injury plagued Wade to provide anything. Ray Allen stepped up to the plate with clutch shooting and Mario Chalmers helped throughout the bulk of the game to keep the Heat in it, finishing with 20 points to his name.
Other than Chris Andersen, the lowest scoring Heat player on the night was Mike Miller who finished with eight. Shane Battier, Miller and Allen combined to shoot 6-of-9 from downtown and were crucial for spacing the floor late in the game as Spurs defenders were scared to leave them alone at the perimeter, opening driving lanes from James to have his fourth quarter romp after starting 3-of-12 from the field in the first three periods.
Gregg Popavich turned wherever he could in the waning moments, hoping Boris Diaw would be able to help them defensively but it failed. Danny Green was nowhere to be found in this game, finishing with just three points on the night and going 1-of-5 from downtown where he’s been lighting it up. Likewise, the Heat got to Gary Neal as he added just five points to the San Antonio total.
At this point in the series, these two teams have felt each other out and they won’t be changing strategies anymore. It comes down to making plays and dealing with the pressure of an NBA Finals game seven. Which side can do that better, we shall see, but if experience really does play a factor in this pressure cooker situation, San Antonio is just the team to recover from this heartbreaking loss.
The Spurs may have wasted a magical performance from Duncan that could have sealed his legacy once and for all had San Antonio lifted the trophy last night, but if Popavich has shown us anything, it’s that there is always one more trick up his sleeve and one more player who has something big to offer the team in the big moments. Will it be Diaw, shaking the game up at times with his intensity and intelligent play? Or maybe Kawhi Leonard repeating the 22 point, 11 rebound performance from Tuesday will be enough because it’s difficult to say the Spurs didn’t do enough to win game six.
This series has had all the drama you could wish for, all the stories the media can handle. Whatever the ending, the series is almost certain to provide an incredible ending to an amazing season of NBA basketball. Whether you’re a fan of one of these teams or a neutral, it really doesn’t get any better than this.