By: Shawn Davis
Entering the NBA Finals I picked the San Antonio Spurs to outlast the Miami Heat in seven games. I’m not going to back off my prediction although I feel I’m going to be proven wrong sometime before midnight. The fact that a seventh game is being played tonight is what I expected, but what transpired in Tuesday’s game wasn’t anything I saw at all. What do I mean?
Ok, here it is: Games 4 and 5 went they way I envisioned in the sense that the Spurs would return to Miami with a 3-2 lead in the series. Even though the Spurs held a 12-point lead in Game 6, I never allowed myself to think they would win at the end of the night. But history shows that they HAD to close the series because a seventh game would not go their way (1978 was the last time the NBA title was claimed by the road team in Game 7; the Washington Bullets defeated the Seattle Supersonics). My heart was into it and I did something that I haven’t done in years: I let my emotions get tied to the outcome.
Every Manu Ginobili turnover made me sick and I wanted him to be pulled from the game every time he touched the ball in the fourth quarter. I questioned the reasoning as to why Gregg Popovich didn’t have Tony Parker and Tim Duncan in the game at the opening of the final period to attempt to shut the door on the title. “Why not keep the foot in the gas?” was my prevailing thought because a Heat rally was inevitable.
Why didn’t they find more creative ways to get the ball to Duncan after the Heat aggressively fronted him in the post in the second half? Why didn’t they use the pick and roll to get him quick touches on the way to the rim? Why was Ginobili making lazy passes with Heat defenders waiting in his passing lanes?
After Ray Allen’s layup made the score 84-82, I walked to the subway. I could not watch another possession because I was convinced what was going to happen. Let me type this out one final time: I DO NOT hate LeBron James or his team but I’m a bigger fan of the San Antonio Spurs. My favorite basketball team of all-time is the 90’s Chicago Bulls (and I’ve remained a fan of them to this day) but after they were dismantled a year too soon I’ve been rooting for the Spurs. Duncan is one of my favorite players ever and I want him to win his fifth title. Are we clear?
I got to my train, about to board; when I received a text telling me that the Spurs held on to win the game in regulation. The sender thought the game was over because they felt a deficit of FIVE points was too much for the Heat to overcome and sent the message with a few too many seconds remaining to play. I almost lost myself because I got high off the news. Once I got a signal over 10 minutes later, let’s just say I was crushed. A game is never over until it is over; no time remaining on the clock…all zeros. Ugh!
So back to the prediction; I would feel confident if Game 6 didn’t unfold in the manner in which it did. I thought it would end in a close final score but I thought the Heat would control the contest from the opening tip and the Spurs would fall just short. However, such a devastating defeat for the Spurs – and I know that if there’s one team that can recover from such a failure it’s them – coupled with the realization of playing against history, on the road; it will be nearly impossible for them to reset, mentally, to play without any residual debris over being seconds away from having the trophy presented to them. Am I wrong for thinking this?
I’ll go down with the ship that I hitched a ride on throughout this entire postseason and stay with Texas. Maybe the Spurs can defeat history in a few hours. I’m probably not going to watch the game because I won’t enjoy it. I will feel only relief if the Spurs win and I’ll be disappointed if the Heat captures their second championship at their expense. Watching highlights tomorrow is preferable to spending 2-3 hours on edge this evening.