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Since 1994 and the infamous OJ chase NBA Finals, there’s only been three NBA Finals series that have gone to a game seven. After Tuesday night’s come from behind victory, the Heat just forced the fourth game seven in 20 years.
In each of those series, the home team hosted game seven and won game seven. The Heat have the home court advantage.
On June 22, 1994, the Houston Rockets outlasted the New York Knicks 90-84 behind Hakeem Olajuwon’s 25 and 10. John Starks shot 2-18 in the loss.
On June 23, 2005, the San Antonio Spurs won the fourth quarter after the game was tied after three to beat the Detroit Pistons 81-74.
On June 17, 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a four point deficit entering the fourth quarter and beat the Boston Celtics 83-79.
All hard fought games, all close games, all won in the fourth quarter. What does that mean for Thursday?
Jay from The New York Knicks Podcast and GG got together for a conversation about what they expect for Thursday’s finale.
GG: I’m a LeBron James fan. If my Warriors aren’t playing, I’m rooting for LeBron. Just like when Michael was playing, if my Warriors weren’t playing, I rooted for MJ. I love watching excellent. You hate LeBron with all of your being. So I’m actually excited to ask you this question.
LeBron is up and down this series because A) he isn’t the type of player to force the issue all the time, B) he is hesitant, C) he is a dominant passer and thus, his instincts are to find the open man or D) the Spurs’ defensive strategy.
Jay: I’d say a combination of A and D. The Spurs have been packing the paint and doing a decent job of stopping the Heat fast break, which also takes LeBron out of his element. LeBron also has a weird habit if drifting in and out of big series/moments with no real explanation. He also looks like he went to the Carmelo Anthony school of complaining to the refs instead of getting back on D before game six.
GG: I personally think that when thing slow down, he starts second guessing himself, which makes him super hesitant. As you saw in game six, when he wanted to takeover, nothing the Spurs could do could stop him.
Speaking of him drifting in and out, why do you think that is? Doesn’t it happen to other big time players too? Sometimes, guys will force shots even if they aren’t feeling it (and thus, shoot their teams out of games). Do you think he knows when he’s not feeling it and just doesn’t force the issue for that reason?
Jay: There is a difference between not forcing it and times like that Boston series where it looked like he just quit. I think he is so worried about his image that he’d rather not try than try and fail. It’s a little thing, but if you notice, he’ll never take a heave at the end of the quarter. It almost seems like he’d rather preserve his field goal percentage than take a bad shot.
GG: He doesn’t need to take those heaves. Mario Chalmers takes enough for everyone.
What do you think about Dwyane Wade, other than his terrible wardrobe? He’s one of the all-time best shooting guards in history. In this series, he’s a shadow of himself. He is a NBA Finals worst -52 in the plus/minus stat category. He’s obviously injured, but do you think it’s only about the injuries? Or do you think he’s aging before our eyes as well?
Jay: He’s aging. If it was just an injury, I think he would be consistently bad but with old age, it comes and goes (such as his amazing game four). I guess falling down (offensive flop) on every single drive and most shot attempts for ten straight years takes a toll. His jaw also seems to be getting bigger every year. Not saying he’s taking HGH or anything but that is extra weight for his knees to carry.
GG: Deer antler spray!
Before the series started, both you and Big Money picked the Spurs to win it in six. I picked the Heat in seven, which is a great way of saying that it was a coin flip to me. What has impressed you most about what San Antonio has been able to do so far, and are you surprised that they haven’t wrapped it up already?
Jay: I’m impressed that for the most part, they’ve contained LeBron and Danny Green has taken 24 open threes. That’s a lot of open shots for a guy shooting over 60%. I’m also impressed with how versatile they’ve been in trying to match/counter Miami’s style with the big vs. small and fast vs. slow lineups.
GG: Tony Parker is hurt, but is playing his ass off. Danny Green is shooting lights out. Tim Duncan is proving his value as the best power forward of all-time. But haven’t they thoroughly outplayed Miami except for a few huge runs over the span of three games? Why is there a game 7?
Jay: Turnovers are killing them. So is Ginobili. He had a great game five but has been terrible the other five games. I believe he alone had eight turnovers last game. I’d also like to see less Thiago Splitter in the game. Another reason is the Spurs strategy is to let the Heat role players win and somehow Chalmers of all people got the Heat a win in game 2 by getting red hot.
Let’s focus on Timmy. He had a brilliant game six and if they win game six, he probably steals the MVP trophy from Green. Can he have that kind of game again? Will he need to have that kind of game again?
Jay: He can. He’s just so much better than any of the Heat big men. I love watching him pick Chris Bosh apart in the paint. If the Spurs are going to win game seven, Timmy needs to pull out one last big game.
GG: Quick thoughts on Manu, whose +/- is the worst for the Spurs in the series. Is he done? Should Pop have started him on Tuesday?
Jay: I can see starting him but at this point, he should ne on a very short leash. He’s not 100% done but he’s close. I’d be shocked to see him play like game five again, but crazier things have happened. I’d play him a few minutes and pull him immediately if he’s turning the ball over.
GG: Obviously, you’re pulling for the Spurs. Do you really think they can get it done in game seven in Miami? Or emotionally, will it be too hard to come back after last night’s let down? Also, what’s your prediction?
Jay: The Spurs are a professional organization with a ton of vets. I don’t think losing game six or playing an away game seven will bother them like most other teams. This game is a virtual toss-up but I’m going to go with the Spurs. They have the better coach and have too many ways to beat you.
GG: I’m going to stick with my pick and take the Heat. I think being at home will help, but ultimately, they have the best player in the game and I think that as long as the game stays in a good flow, he’ll be in attack mode and go off.
So who’s getting that MVP trophy then?
Jay: Since I picked Spurs and I think Duncan needs to have a monster game for them to win, I’ll go with Duncan.
GG: You know who I’m taking; the headbandless horseman.