Spurs choke away the championship

Chris Bosh probably got away with a foul on the game tying three attempt by Danny Green, but the Spurs have no one to blame but themselves for this one. Up five with just 30 seconds to go, Gregg Popovich inexplicably pulled Tim Duncan out on defensive substitutions for both possessions and got burned for it twice.

The thought was to match up with speed on the perimeter to contest the three point shot, the result was that the Heat got two offensive rebounds and open looks at threes off of those rebounds to tie to the game. Kawhi Leonard helped out by missing one of his two free throws in between that would have iced the game, and hats off to Miami for coming up with the big rebounds and threes to take advantage of the San Antonio blunders.

One of the things that's most dangerous about Miami is that they can score an utter crapload of points incredibly fast because they can stack the floor with five three point shooters at once while still having guys who can create the open look. They can get streaky, obviously, but you can't count them out of a game, even when they are done by what feels like an insurmountable lead. The Bulls found that out in game five during 2011, and the Spurs found that out tonight.

If the Heat go on to win game seven, which they have to be the favorite in as the home team almost always wins game seven, then people will forget how pedestrian James was in the majority of these finals. He'll have taken over this game six to win it for the Heat even if he was only able to do so after a missed free throw and some poor decision making by San Antonio.

Dwyane Wade bumped knees with Manu Ginobili early in the game and never seemed the same afterwards. Wade hasn't been great anyway, but he was still riding the bench with three minutes and change left until Erik Spoelstra eventually felt pressure to bring Wade back in the game. The decision was almost his undoing as the Spurs immediately played much better and took advantage of Wade defensively while the Heat offense struggled more with the ball in his hands.

It was bad enough that when they brought Wade back in, my friend and I both said the Spurs have a chance now (they were losing at the time) and had a discussion over whether Tom Thibodeau would have had the balls to continue sitting Wade or not when it was obviously working better for the Heat with him on the bench and both concluded that he would have.

That said, Miami averted disaster to force game seven, and San Antonio will be left trying to figure out how to get up off the mat in a game where fans across America were cheering like crazy because there was no way the Spurs could lose this game with 30 seconds left until they did.

If you're a Spurs fan you can take solace in the fact that the Spurs almost won game six without really playing that well. Tony Parker was just 6/23 (though hit two monster shots late in the fourth to lead a Spurs comeback), Manu Ginobili was just 2/5 with eight turnovers, and the team only shot 27.8% from the three point line. Leonard and Duncan kept the Spurs in the game with their efficient play with the Spurs showing again they can survive a poor night by multiple key players and still be right there at the end.

Game seven thoughts

Mario Chalmers has been the Heat's Danny Green. He's had monster games in two of the Heat's three wins shooting 66% from beyond the arc in the wins and just 31% in the losses. Chalmers played the role of secondary star last night when Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh gave Miami relatively little.

If I'm San Antonio I'm probably looking at guarding LeBron 1st, the corner three second, the wing three third, and Dwyane Wade fourth in terms of priority in game seven. At this point, if Wade and Bosh beat you, I might live with it if it helps me slow LeBron and shut down the open threes. Neither player has given Miami a whole lot this series.

Who steps up for San Antonio in game seven? The Spurs have had a rotating cast of heroes. Can Danny Green put together one more good game after a poor outing in this one? Will Tony Parker have something left in the tank after a pedestrian shooting performance? Can Manu Ginobili summon his younger self one more time like game five? Will Tim Duncan or Kawhi Leonard have a repeat performance? The tough thing about the Spurs for the Heat is they have no idea who to stop, because anyone is capable of beating them if they over commit to any one area.

Normally, I'd say no team would have a chance in a game seven scenario against Miami in Miami, especially after throwing this game away with mistakes. However, I don't believe that's the case with San Antonio. I like Miami in game seven, but I don't think the Spurs will get too low after the loss or lose their confidence. I think they'll come out and play their brand of basketball and have every chance to win the game.

Despite the fact I was desperate for a Spurs win, last night was the NBA at its best. I can't wait to see game seven.

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  • It is too bad that when Wade and Ginobli bumped knees that it didn't put Manu out for the remainder of the game. If it had, the Spurs likely would have won.

    Pop is clearly comfortable sitting his stars at key moments of the game. He has to be ready with a quick hook on Manu in game 7. If he is playing well, then ride him. If not, nail his butt to the bench.

    Parker and Duncan looked totally gassed near the end of the game. It is tough on Pop because whenever he sits those guys down to give them a bit of rest Miami goes on a run, but he needs them to execute at the end of games.

    I hate to say it, but Miami wins game 7 by double digits.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    I agree about Ginobili, he made about 10 garbage passes that led to turnovers. That was the game.

    Of course, there were other factors, like missing 2 of 4 free throws during the last minute, and failing to guard the 3-pt shooters at the end of regulation. In fact, the Spurs probably should have fouled Allen at the end. Even if he makes both, which he would, the Spurs are up a point with the ball and only 5 seconds left. Lousy coaching, lousy execution.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    Yea, Splitter has been a disaster for them, haven't checked his plus/minus, but it has to be hideous.

  • I can't imagine how the Spurs are feeling after this loss. I'm not even a Spurs fan and I'm sick after the Spurs gave that game away. I don't see no way they win game 7 on Miami floor. I would say the old saying...anything could happen in a game 7, but the way the Spurs choked that game away Miami has all the momentum in the world going for them and there's no way that they can lose. Popovich from the start of the 4th quarter made huge coaching mistakes by not having Duncan and or Parker to start the 4th and leaving Manu in the game far too long cost them the win. Manu played an awful game, he missed a crirical free throw, Leonard missed a free throw that could've won the game, and i just dont see how they can come back from that especially after a lot of fans players and media folks saw the championship trophy being brought to the floor for the Spurs. All i can say is i don't think I have ever seen such a demoralizing loss for a team and hopefully the Spurs can pick themselves up and have enough left for a game 7 win in Miami. According to how this series has been played the Spurs should win game 7...but I'm going to have to doubt this one. GOOD LUCK SPURS.

  • San Antonio has a tough task ahead, but when you beat a team convincingly to take a crucial 3-2 lead in the series, and then basically beat them the next game on their floor, I wouldn't count that team out to win Game 7. In fact in playoff basketball many times a team that does those things does go on to win. It depends if Pop who erred at the end of Game 6, can adjust and outcoach Miami one more time, and if the Spurs come in with an even greater determination fueled by being pissed off at giving away Game 6.

    Regardless, even if Miami wins, LeBron has shown us once again what he has for most of his carer. In a playoff setting which defines greatness, particularly a Finals setting, he can dissapear for long periods of games. I just don't think anybody(in their right mind) will regard him in the same category as Michael when it's all said and done. Though his playoff numbers overall are exceptional.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    This game reminded me that the Jordan Bulls won one game like this(a game that they had no business wining) in every finals that they played with the possible exception of the first against the Lakers. In fact a few of them were the clinching game.

  • If I weren't a Heat hater, that would've ranked with one of the best games I've ever seen. What's incredible is that unlike Game 5 in 2011 against the Bulls, they didn't really win due to James going HAM. He got off early in the 4th, but he cooled down and the Spurs seemed to have things well in hand. Those OREB's were absolute killers.

    Pop's the best coach in the Association, but he isn't infallible. Both of his blunders have been mentioned already but what the heck:

    1)Ginobili was terrible last night: I texted my dad that the clock had struck midnight after his Game 5 performance. Turnovers, bricks, aimless drives, it was terrible. It looked like the James Harden No-Show from last year's Finals. I can't believe Gary Neal couldn't have done better. And hell yes Thibs would've benched him. I can't remember the game, but this year he glued Noah's ass to the bench for mouthing off even after the other quality bigs had fouled out.

    2) Pulling 2nd Team All-D TIMMEH off the court in defensive situations. WTF Pop? The Heat can't rebound against quality size. There is no way the Best PF Ever would've allowed the Heat to get those OREB's.

    Yes Ginobili was fouled on that last drive, but it shouldn't have gotten to that point because he shouldn't have been on the floor. Plus, the Spurs built their lead with some questionable calls and no-calls in their favor. Not that I was complaining, but I knew they were in trouble if the whistles evened out.

    I think Miami is going to win fairly easily. Other than being an unabashed Heat hater, I'm really sad that T-Mac isn't going to get his Lifetime Acheivement ring. He was my favorite player of the early post-Jordan era and I hoped he could ride the Spurs coattails to a ring. Oh well, on to the draft.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    I'm not sure you can call a coach the best in the association when his substitution decisions led as directly as possible to not clinching a championship. We'll see what happens on Thursday.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    I'm not judging by one game or one series, even if it's the Finals. He made a series of terrible blunders last night, but his overall body of work compares favorably to every other coach in the game today.

  • Pop definitely outcoached himself at the end of last night. I understand pulling Timmy on that first defensive possession, but he got burned and then pulled him again?!?! It doesn't make sense, especially with him having a vintage performance like that.

    Also, I don't know why Manu was in handling the ball so much at the end of the 4th and OT. Game 5 was an aberration, and games 1-3 and 6 Manu is who will probably show up in game 7. Pop also outcoached himself when he didn't call timeout and try and sub Parker back in. Why is he not putting TP back in???

    Although Miami played great in the end and fought back into it, the Spurs could have won but choked it away. It looks like they got in their own heads.

    Game 7 should be another great game, but I find it difficult to see the Spurs pulling it off. Granted, out of any team, I have the most faith in the Spurs, but man that was a tough one to lose.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    Also, he(Pop) failed to get Parker back in the game for the final possession of overtime, which is why the ball was in Ginobli's hands at the end.

    While I understand and agree with not calling a time out so that Miami can't set it's defense, he should have already had Parker in the game, and since he didn't he should have gone with a time out to get him in.

    So that is a 3rd major blunder by Pop in crunch time.

  • The one thing worth noting is that so far, momentum doesn't mean shit in this series. No one has won two straight.

  • The big 4th quarter plays by Chris Bosh were also HUGE.
    - blocked shot on Parker's stepback. Parker hit a similar stepback shot over LeBron but got erased by Bosh.
    - blocked shot on 3pt attempt by Green on last possession.
    - Offensive rebound and assist to Ray Allen for 3pt.

    Though Bosh disappears at times, is there any other PF in eastern conference you'd rather have? He's got length and skills that are unmatched at PF. I asked myself, could Bulls' free agency consolation prize PF Carlos Boozer make those plays?

    I recall four trips to the foul line by Spurs where they made only 1 of 2. Twice by Manu, once by Parker, once by Leonard.

    I wanted Spurs to win this one badly. Truly a golden opportunity squandered.

  • In reply to Edward:

    No one is doubting that Bosh is a great player, but he is a secondary star at best. He did come up huge last night in the last few minutes, but got absolutely destroyed for the first 45 min against Duncan.

    I think it's funny that there have been some articles praising how Bosh is willing to concede his status as the top dog to Lebron and Wade. It's basically a nice way of saying he's not a legit number 1 option.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    With today's NBA rules, I don't think any PF in the league is a legitimate number 1 option. I also don't think Miami ever considered Bosh a number 1 option, just one of the best PFs, and certainly the best PF available in 2010 free agency. Miami plays Bosh out-of-position due to lack of a legitimate center.

    It's a PG and wings league, though the frontline is still very important.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Al Horford

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Sorry, I posted Kevin Love (pending administrator approval) but he's in the West. For now anyways...

  • In reply to Edward:

    Kevin Love

  • This has to be the worst that I have ever felt about a non Chicago sports loss. I am not a Spurs fan, but the Heat losing is a very close second to the Bulls winning.

    It wouldn't have hurt so bad if the Heat had just beat the Spurs convinicingly, but to tease us like that was torture.

    I thought that the Spurs were cooked in the first quarter, when it was obvious that it was a "good Chalmers" game, vs a "bad Chalmers" game. It seems to me that the Heat are virtually unbeatable when Chamlers scores 20.

    That being said the Spurs still had the Heat beat, but choked plain and simple, in the last 2 possessions of the game, 2 missed free throws, 2 missed defensive rebounds, 2 mostly uncontested 3's, and 2 bad coaching decisions, absolutely Nauseating.

    Who knew that Pop thinks Duncan is Carlos the Bamboozler.

    Also, the Spurs defense of the 3 point line was virtually non existent the entire game, and it ended up costing them the game and their 5th championship.

    My gut says Miami blow out, it was/is clear that the Spurs guys ran out of gas at the end of that game, I fear that will also be the case in the second half of game 7.

    The summer would have been so much shorter watching the Heat cry.

  • Random Trade Idea:

    Bulls get: Nene, J Vesely, #3 pick
    Washington gets: Boozer, RIP, $1M (to pay RIP's buyout)

    Why WAS says yes: Money! Washington saves $9,240,920 (assuming they buyout RIP) and Boozer's contract has one less year on it. They can cut ties with Vesely who is awful and gain more rebounding (Boozer vs Nene).

    Why WAS says no: they may not care about saving the money, especially if it costs them the #3 pick.

    Why CHI says yes: This deal is cap/tax neutral for next season and they pick up a top 3 pick (Porter/McLemore), giving them the flexibility to deal Deng if need be or spin the pick off in a separate deal for another superstar.

    Why CHI says no: Money! this deal would cost them more money long term, the 2014 plan is blown up as Nene's deal goes through 2016 with no amnesty available.

    In summary: Sometimes you have to gamble to win big, this trade would essentially be the equivalent of purchasing a lottery pick for $9,240,920. You get no real drop off between Booz and Nene (You lose rebounding but gain defense), so the only real benefit for taking on the extra dough long term is the #3 pick in the draft. It is one of the more equitable deals out there for both teams and along with some of the other future assets the Bulls are waiting on (CHA pick, Mirotic) the #3 pick could actually set the Bulls up for a dynasty.

  • In reply to nolebron:

    No way Washington says yes to this. They're not going to give up the #3 pick for junk. At this point, they need to stockpile talent, not save $1m on Rip's buyout. The draft is the cheapest route to go in building a team, and Boozer's bloated contract isn't doing much for the fanbase in terms of long term optimism.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    Did you not read the part where they save $9.2 million dollars because Nene's bloated contract goes on for longer than Boozers bloated contract and they dump that draft bust Vesely. I mean dang, I know they aren't gonna do this deal, but at least read the full analysis before you read one line and say absolutely not to the deal. They cant amnesty Nene either because they traded for him after the lockout. They'll actually create cap room down the road, kinda like how Detroit traded Ben Gordon and a lotto pick to Charlotte for Corey Magette. You never know how teams are gonna react when you can save them almost 10 million dollars and get them cap room a year earlier.

  • In reply to nolebron:

    I did read the whole thing, and WAS still says no. They're not pushed up on the edge of the cap and while they do need to pay John Wall, they have Beal and some other young (cheap) pieces. Plus I'd rather have Nene over Boozer (even if his deal does end a year sooner). Also, the #3 pick is much more valuable at this point over saving money/getting rid of a bad contract. It doesn't matter that this is a weak draft, the pick always keeps a fanbase interested and gives them some type of hope for the upcoming season. If I were a Washington fan, I would be much more excited about pairing Wall and Beal up with another young talen to build a core around for the next 10 years, as opposed to losing that pick and dumping some salary in the long term, while getting a slightly worse player.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    I agree they would say no, but that's a deal WAS would think about before saying no. Maybe the Bulls can do it for next years pick with maybe top 3 protection built in.

  • UGH! Now I'm preparing for a long offseason. It would have gone much faster with a Heat loss. Why, oh why must we live in the one out of a hundred different dimensions where the Heat somehow pull out game 6.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Hard to believe Mike, Magic, Jalen, and Bill after the game on Sportscenter. They spent a minute on how LeBron has a chance to be the greatest of all-time. You'd think having to switch teams to win and being 2-2 in Finals appearances, losing to a Mavericks team whose best player by far was a 32-year-old Dirk Nowitzki would disqualify one. Then LeBron and Wade inexplicably stop hitting the open jumpers they'd hit all season and virtually all postseason. These guy shot over 50% in the regular season and were money from that range. I remember a game last season against the Bulls, who actually won without Derrick Rose, where LeBron and Wade scored like 75 points combined, mostly on turnaround jump shots. They should have been hitting those shots all series. They only started doing their jobs in game 7. It took a San Antonio choke job in game 6 of an insurmountable lead and then a Ray Allen three for the ages for them to even force a game 7.

    Magic also proclaimed that the best team won. What a crock. Play out the same scenario from game 6 with the other 28 teams in the league against the Heat, up 5 points with 28 seconds left and maybe one or two somehow lose that game. Maybe none. Numerous strokes of luck led the Heat to that victory. San Antonio was the better team.

    So the Bulls don't win. Derrick never plays. The least we could have gotten in return for that is Miami not winning. I don't know if I'll pull out of this funk until October...

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