A title, and legacies, on the line for Heat, Spurs

A+
A
A-

San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard, right, takes a shot as power forward Aron Baynes of Australia, defends during NBA basketball practice, Wednesday, June 19, 2013, at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. The Spurs take on the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Miami. AP

MIAMI— Game 7s do more than settle championships. They define legacies.

No matter what happens Thursday night, LeBron James and the Miami Heat, and Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs have already won NBA titles and secured a place in history.

Now is their opportunity to elevate it.

The truly memorable teams won the hard way, and that will be the case for the one celebrating at center court this time. It’s either a Heat repeat, possible only after James led them back from what seemed certain elimination in the closing seconds of Game 6, or the Spurs shaking off as gut-wrenching a loss as a team can have to become just the fourth club to win a Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the road.

“As a competitor you love it, because you know you have an opportunity and it’s up to you,” Heat guard Ray Allen said. “We have a chance in our building to make something great. All of our legacies are tied to this moment, this game. It’s something our kids will be able to talk about that they were a part of. Forever will remember these moments, so we want to not live and have any regrets.”

Allen played in the game the last time the NBA’s season went down to the very last day, the Boston Celtics fading at the finish and falling 83-79 to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010. That made home teams 14-3 in finals Game 7s, with no road team winning since Washington beat Seattle in 1978.

Overcoming those odds, not to mention the NBA team with the most wins, would make this more memorable than the Spurs’ previous four titles, though this is a franchise that never dwells too much on the past or looks too far into the future.

The Heat could become the NBA’s first repeat champions since the Lakers in 2010. James and Chris Bosh moved to Miami to join Wade a few weeks later and they are in the finals for the third time in three chances.

But playing for titles is more expected than celebrated now in Miami, and a 66-win season that included a 27-game winning streak — and perhaps the whole Big Three era — goes down as a failure if the Heat fall Thursday. Yet James said he doesn’t need the victory to validate his decision to take his talents to South Beach.

“I mean, I need it because I want it and I only came here — my only goal is to win championships,” he said. “I said it, this is what I came here for. This is what I wanted to be a part of this team for.”

James, who was planning a relaxing night with family and friends Wednesday, has the most at stake in the game. And when it’s over he’ll be either a two-time NBA Finals MVP or a two-time loser in a Heat uniform.

“I want to go down as one of the greatest. I want our team to go down as one of the greatest teams. And we have an opportunity to do that,” James said. “Hasn’t been many teams to win back-to-back championships. It’s so hard. It’s the hardest thing. I said last year it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, winning my first. Last year don’t even come close to what we’ve gone through in this postseason and in these finals.

“So I’ll be there (Thursday) night. I’m going to give it my all.”

The Spurs have never lost in the finals, but they’ve never faced a situation quite like this. They won a Game 7 for the 2005 championship, but that victory over Detroit was at home. The last five finals that went the distance all went to the home team.

“I don’t really care what it’s been like for anybody else at any time,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “All I know is we have had a hell of a year and we have an opportunity to win a championship. That’s all that matters.”

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • jclarendo

    fixed game

  • Meow Ming

    parang benta naman maglaro si James sa 4th quart. PInipilit kahit lima bantay. Kung si Jordan lang yun, jump shot or fade away lang, pasok.. hehehe

  • hu_yu

    actually it’s not james that led the miami team to win that epic game 6
    it was ray allen who lifted them
    james just committed blunder after blunder late in the 4th, had it not for ray allen’s clutch 3, spurs would now be hoisting the championship trophy
    honorable mention should be for chris bosh, he played an excellent game 6

    as for james, he is just an overrated player

    • berong es

      tangga,yung 8 players,lahat nagpanalo sa Miami yan dahil lahat naka -iskor sa regulation.kung kahit 1 sa 8,ay may hindi naipasok na isang basket or free throw, e di 95-94 ang iskor pabor sa spurs.inutill.

      • hu_yu

        hahaha mag pompom ka na lng dude

  • berong es

    just want to ask basketball fans,didnt parker committed a travelling violation on his turn around shot in the last minutes of the regulation time right after his game tying 3-pointer?

    also,during the last minute of the OT,did not manu ginobili also committed a travelling violation on his drive to the basket when he picked up the ball and ran it like a NFL rusher?

    • hu_yu

      ask the ref not the fans

      • berong es

        gaggo ka pala e…sa fans ko nga tinatanong.kung sa refs ko gustong itanong,e di sana naka-address yung tanong ko sa refs..bat alam mo pa sa akin?ungags.

        if you have nothing good to say…just shot your mouth.

  • ting0508

    After blowing game 6, Spurs know that their chance for a fifth crown is now zero. Popovich is just trying to psyche up himself and his players but they know that it’s all over but the shouting. It’s next to impossible to win against a home team in game 7 especially if the road team has aging players and they are up against a team with at least 4 hall of famers namely James, Wade, Bosh and Allen. Wala na yan!

    • http://markpogi0121.blogspot.com/ mark pogi

      It happens that the road team has a few future hall of famers of its own, Duncan, Parker, Ginnobli plus a few rising stars as well. =P

      And Game 7 is a battle of who wants it so badly they would die for it.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94

editors' picks

advertisement
advertisement