Tonight is the night? Game 6 preview
Must not jinx myself… Must not jinx myself… Ah screw it! Who has predicted every result of this year’s finals? And who predicted 12 out of 14 series winners (only missing on Knicks vs. Pacers and Grizzlies vs. Spurs)? And who predicted that Wade would lead Miami in game 4 after stinking the series up before that? And Popovich would have to play a small line-up of Duncan/ Leonard/ Manu/ Green/ Parker (although I didn’t think he’d start with that group) before Game 5?
That would be me.
And who also predicted before the series started (and stuck with that pick after the game 4 Heat blowout) that The Spurs would win in 6? Me also. But then why am I worried about game 6? A few, non-shoe related, reasons. Firstly, Danny Green has been by far the best player of the series from both teams. Yes, we all know about his insane shooting. But his defense, especially in transition, has been a significant factor in the Spurs being able to contain the explosiveness of Miami. I tweeted during game 5 saying I have never seen sustained shooting at this level for an extended period of time like this. But (there’s always a catch), this is now game 6. The pressure of a close-out game, on the road, for the NBA championship… That’s a hell of a lot to ask any experienced and celebrated superstar to complete, let alone someone who is just ascending to this level. I’m not saying he’s not capable (oh, first double negative, and I’m too tired to care. This is what 4 exams in 26 hours does to you. Wait, what have I become? Using fatigue as an excuse! Damn you, Lebron James! I’m mentally shaking my fist at you right now) of continuing this standard of excellence. Hell, I wouldn’t say he is incapable of fixing the U.S. deficit right now. But things will be tougher here. Miami has to make him their first priority to slow down. Not Parker. Not Duncan. It has to be Green.
It’ll be interesting to watch.
Second of all is how quickly we have forgotten the perception of San Antonio fading in the playoffs. Is this a bit of déjà vu from last playoffs against Oklahoma? Everything clicking, role players going well, opposing star players struggling, Spurs get a 2-0 lead, then everything changes. The Spurs, to their credit, have been a much more resilient team in the playoffs this year than in years past. But in this series, they have been just as inconsistent as Miami (for completely different reasons. Miami’s inconsistency stems from a lack of focus. San Antonio’s is a health issue. If one is more “fixable”, it has to be the focus) and they played Duncan 38 minutes, Parker 36, Green 40, Manu 33. Today’s game is on one day’s rest, and a change of location. The mental test to break through this challenge is going to perhaps the biggest key to the game.
And lastly, adjustments. I spoke about this briefly about the defensive changes Miami will have to make to slow Green down. But what hasn’t been spoken about is Ray Allen has been playing much better, and if San Antonio throw everything into this line-up, and they begin to slow in the second half, Ray Allen, Miller, Battier etc. can all do massive damage off the ball. Think back to game 2.
Overall, it’s been a crappy finals. But tension in-between the games has been amazing, and the sheer unpredictable nature of what’s actually going to transpire. I’ll stick with San Antonio closing this out, just because I’m a stubborn, stubborn man. Enjoy the game!