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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