I’m dragging a little but this morning thanks to that epic Game Six of the NBA Finals last night.
In case you missed it, San Antonio controlled the first 36 minutes of the game wonderfully. They stretched out leads, responded to Miami runs, and seemed to be utterly in control of the game as it went to the final quarter. Late in the third period Tony Parker missed an open baseline jumper from about 18 feet that would have put the Spurs up 14. As his ball arced through the air, it felt like the game was in the balance. It rimmed out and Miami had life.
They took advantage of it.
The Heat flipped the script and dominated the first five-plus minutes of the fourth quarter, building a five-point lead with about 90 seconds to play. Then Parker hit a ridiculous, step-back three and a soft shot in the lane to tie it up. Miami now looked cooked, as they proceeded to cough the ball up on two straight possessions and let the Spurs build their own five-point lead.
A couple missed free throws left the door open for Miami,1 and Ray Allen drilled a magnificent, difficult, corner three to send the game to overtime.
Wow, what a finish to regulation.
Overtime got sloppy and ugly as both teams did their best to not win until Ray Ray knocked down the clinching free throws.
But it was a hell of a game.
Tim Duncan turned back the clock for the first three quarters, dominating the game through his scoring and board work. Kawhi Leonard was fantastic, including his epic dunk over Mike Miller in the first half. Boris Diaw did as good a job frustrating LeBron James as any defender has done this year. But Ginobili sucked all night after being brilliant in game five, and Parker was shaky in some big moments.
LeBron was far from his best, but kicked it into a higher gear to fuel the fourth quarter comeback. Aside from Mario Chalmers’ big night, LBJ got very little help until the fourth quarter. Then D-Wade hit a few big shots, Ray Ray got clutch, and Chris Bosh of all people, came up huge on several key possessions.
It hasn’t been a great series. Game One went down to the last seconds and was won on a ridiculous2 shot by Parker. Last night was a hell of a lot of fun for the casual fan. In between were four games that weren’t close late. But the craziness of Game Six sets us up for a Game Seven that is full of promise. Can the Spurs rebound after being so close and get Timmy and Pop their fifth titles? Can LeBron get help from more than one teammate to claim his second-straight ring?
For sports writers, the ideal outcome is San Antonio winning a hard-fought game. Then they can write about both the understated, oft ignored genius of Duncan and another failure by LeBron. But for us unaligned fans, I’m just hoping for another game that goes down to the final seconds in which both Duncan and James have the game in their hands at the end.