San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called it one helluva game.
He didn’t look too pleased.
Miami mentor Erik Spoelstra nodded wanly in agreement.
He looked more shaken than pleased.
This was during the media interview, immediately after Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
* * *
San Antonio failed to nail down the crown.
However, it would be hard to honestly state that San Antonio lost.
If it were in boxing, it would be more apt to say Miami was saved by the bell.
The Spurs surpassed themselves and did more than enough to win.
But Ray Allen, coming to the rescue of Miami’s fabled Big Three, came up with his own Big 3 from deep right off the arc to tie the game as the final seconds in regulation ticked away.
* * *
That magical delivery by the most composed Miami gunner on the floor set off a near surreal struggle in overtime that saw the Heat completing an incredible comeback never before seen in the NBA.
Manu Ginobili tried to slice through a phalanx of defenders, hoping to at least draw a foul that would’ve ensured victory. No whistle sounded despite clear contacts which the referees ruled were initiated by the veteran Spurs sparkplug.
Ginobili later said he doubted if they would be able to recover fully and deliver the knockout punch in today’s deciding Game 7.
* * *
But don’t ask Popovich about their chances in today’s decider.
“What we will do after today?” asked Popovich. “We ride the bus back to the hotel, then take the same bus, the same route back for the final title battle.”
This may not be the same case with Miami.
The Heat, seeking a second straight NBA championship, barely survived after they tripped again and again at their own homecourt.
LeBron James did topscore but he also oozed with fiendish individualism in the crucial regulation windup, thereby reducing coach Spoelstra into an unwilling dummy on the bench.
James, despite odious misses, was in fact still screaming for a final pass from Chris Bosh, who wisely issued the game-tying assist to Allen at deep right.
* * *
It’s clearly a toss-up in today’s Game 7, although Miami has thus far failed to win two consecutive matches in the playoffs.
If San Antonio enjoys a slight edge today, it should be because of the character and genuine teammanship that have also helped the Spurs turn the NBA championship series into a homage to basketball with a heart and pure character.
As for Miami, they will be taking the same team bus, but it would help if LeBron is kept a good distance from the driver.
This could send the urgent message: LeBron must give his bewildered coach a chance to plot and call the shots, if just for today.
Or is it already too late?