Thursday, June 20, 2013

NBA Finals 2013 Game 7 Preview

This is it.

All the cliches about big games, giving your all, blah blah blah . . . they have brought the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat to this moment.

Four quarters (and maybe a little extra, if needed) stand between them achieving the lone goal every team dreams about from the first day of training camp -- being an NBA champion.

"Game 7 is our only focus," said Spurs guard Gary Neal. "It's our only game left. Last game of the season. Most important game of the season. That's where our focus is at."

Said Miami's Dwyane Wade: "Every possession becomes so much. Every turnover, everything is magnified from that standpoint. Whenever you get in an elimination game, it's like that. But you just have to keep playing the game. You can't win it in 40 minutes. You can't win it in 45 minutes. You've got to do it in 48. So you have to just keep fighting."

That's exactly what the Heat did in escaping with a 103-100 overtime win in Game 6 to keep their season alive, a game in which the Spurs led by as many as five points with less than a minute to play in regulation.

Moving past a tough loss like that is not easy.

But the Spurs don't really have a choice if they want to achieve the one goal that they and 29 other teams set out to accomplish: win an NBA championship.

"A blow like that (Game 6 loss), it's not easy to get back up," said San Antonio's Manu Ginobili who had eight turnovers in the Spurs loss. "Knowing that we have another chance, that we can do so many things better, and that we are in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals. There's not much more than that.  So we are still in a good situation. We are where we wanted to be at the beginning of the season still. It's up to us. We have to have our best game."

The Heat feel the same way, knowing that a victory tonight would be back-to-back NBA titles and to some degree, cement this group as one of the league's greatest teams ever.

"I thought about it for sure," said LeBron James, referring to winning back-to-back NBA titles. "It's human nature. I want to go down as one of the greatest. I want our team to go down as one of the greatest teams. And we have an opportunity to do that.

James added, "Hasn't been many (teams) to win back‑to‑back championships. It's so hard. It's the hardest thing. I said last year it was the hardest thing I've ever done, winning my first. Last year don't even come close to what we've gone through in this postseason and in these Finals. I'm going to give it my all (in Game 7). I'm going to leave everything on the floor. Whatever happens, happens. I'll be satisfied with that."

Here are some factors that may come into play in tonight's Game 7 battle to determine the 2013 NBA champion.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With both teams still feeling some degree of fatigue following Tuesday night's overtime thriller, look for poor shooting on the part of both teams early on tonight.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Danny Green vs. Dwyane Wade. The longer this series has gone, Wade seems to be getting stronger. The Spurs have gone underneath on pick-and-rolls with Wade, practically daring him to shoot. Lately, he has made them pay although those gimpy knees of his are indeed reason for Heat fans to be somewhat concerned with his effectiveness. Miami paid a lot closer attention to Green in Game 6 which led to him missing six of his seven shot attempts. We'll see if the Spurs can free Green up in tonight's winner-take-all Game 7 matchup.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Chris Bosh has been in the shadow of James and Wade ever since he arrived in Miami. But he has shown the ability to step up in these kinds of games, delivering on the intangibles such as getting to loose balls and grabbing timely rebounds. His numbers may not be all that impressive, but the potential for his imprint to be on the game in a big way, is there.

STAT TO TRACK: The three-point shot was a difference-maker for the Heat in their Game 6 win, and it will likely play a major role in tonight's game as well. On Tuesday, Miami was 11-for-19 on threes, which was the second time (Game 2) the Heat in the Finals made at least 10 threes in a game and shot better than 50 percent from three-point range. And in both games, the Heat emerged victorious.

Sherrod Blakely

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