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NBA Finals Game 6 Analysis and Game 7 Preview by the numbers

June 20, 2013

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0:28 Seconds left in Game 6 with the Spurs up 5 points. It’s an epic collapse for sure and one that only becomes worse as the Spurs have to re-live every moment of that game for nearly 48 hours before they can do anything about it. Some will point to the veteran squad and Greg Popovich and say that this loss won’t haunt them but I disagree as these losses are rare and when they occur it often takes years not days to recover from them.

30 Points by Tim Duncan. Yes almost all of them came in the 1st half but his 30 pt 17 reb effort was the type of dominating performance I didn’t expect to ever see again from him. Chris Bosh actually played good defense on him for most of the night but Tim Duncan was simply better. He was the reason why they had a double digit lead numerous times in Game 6.

1 Three pointer made by Danny Green. After tying an NBA Finals record with 25 made three pointers, in only 5 games, the thinking was that Green was just in a zone and wasn’t going to come out of it until the series was over. Yet in Game 6 he fell back to Earth with a 1 for 7 shooting (1-5 from 3 pt land) that reminded everyone that this guy just a few years ago was playing in the D-League. After 5 games I had told anyone that would listen that Green was the MVP to this point in the series. After his 3 pt offering he officially is out of the MVP discussion but he can still resurrect a historic series with a clutch Game 7.

4 MVP Awards in the regular season by LeBron James. I’ve gone on record as saying he will, and in my opinion already is, one of the 10 greatest players to ever play in the NBA yet in these NBA Finals he’s only had moments of greatness as Popovich has combined a great defensive strategy of packing the lane with underrated defensive efforts by Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw to make LeBron actually look human.

2 Triple doubles by LeBron. Yes I did just mention how he’s looked very human in this series but the stats still show the uniqueness of LeBron’s game. On offense he has struggled as his gaudy 56% FG shooting in the regular season has dropped to 43% in the Finals yet he’s still averaging 10.7 rebs, 7.5 ast, 1.0 blk, and 2.3 steals a game. Everyone loves to compare LeBron to Michael Jordan but with his scoring decreasing he’s reminding me much more of a mixture between Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen as a stat stuffing SF/PF with tremendous passing abilities to go along with rare versatility as a defender. Love him or hate him he’s clearly one of the all-time greats.

5 Games this series where LeBron has shot below 50% from the field. That is shocking to me as he’s 1 for 6 in this series shooting +50% yet was 13 for 13 in the month of February shooting +50%. Keeping a career 49% shooter under 50% so regularly is another example of the masterful job Greg Popovich has done in scheming against him.

1978 Was the last time an opposing team won a Game 7 in the NBA Finals. The Spurs collapsed in Game 6 and now must face a herculean task of beating the Heat on their home floor despite the Heat having the momentum and the Spurs having ghosts to battle.

1 Win away from the championship by either squad. If the Heat win it solidifies the “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” approach to team building as for 3 straight seasons they’ve made it to the NBA Finals and for 2 straight seasons they will have brought home a trophy. I mentioned before that the 2013-2014 season likely is the last year the Big 3 for Miami stay intact so a loss Thursday night would be devastating as they really don’t have many more opportunities. It would re-open the supposedly closed argument about LeBron not being clutch and unable to lead a team to a championship. It also would permanently end any chance LeBron had of catching Jordan as the greatest NBA player of all time as a player with a 1-3 record in NBA Finals can hardly be put in such lofty circles as Michael Jordan or Bill Russell. If the Spurs win it would re-open the dynasty talk that had largely been put on the backburner these past 5 seasons. While Kobe was getting rings 4 and 5 the Spurs were getting bounced early out of the playoffs and looking old and frail. With a 5th ring Duncan could cement his status as his generations best player, yes Kobe has 5 rings but only 2 as the top player while you could argue that all of Duncan’s 5 rings came with him as the top player, and the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili trio could be put up with Jordan/Pippen/Rodman, Bird/McHale/Parrish, and Magic/Kareem/Worthy as all time greats. If the Spurs lose it could be damaging as well as Pop will lose some of his invincibility due to the numerous questionable decisions he made in Game 6, Ginobili very likely will end his Spurs career on a down note as with the luxury tax kicking in next year it’d be surprising if he was re-signed, and the Spurs “dynasty” could once again be open for criticism. My argument has always been that the Spurs have been a very good but rarely great team that picked up titles in “down” years for the NBA. When the Lakers in the early 2000’s were at their best the Spurs were mince meat against them and offered little resistance to the three peat of Shaq and Kobe. Then in 2003 Shaq got bored, gained weight, and was terrible which caused the Spurs to win their 2nd championship. Their first of course was in ’99 in the asterisks year of the NBA Lockout. Phil Jackson came up with that line but there’s some validity to it as more than half the season was cancelled, training camp was shortened, free agency was a fiasco, and the six titles in eight years Chicago Bulls were decimated by retirement and free agency. The Spurs were largely intact and took advantage of their continuity to win a title in arguably one of the strangest NBA seasons in history. Fast forward to 2005 when they beat an only slightly above average Detroit Pistons team in 7 games, never winning a road game all series, in one of the most boring NBA Finals of all time. Finally you get to the 2007 championship which was won due to a cheap shot by Robert Horry and a subsequently far more ludicrous suspension of Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw that cost the Suns Game 5 (at home) setting up the Spurs to clinch in Game 6. Many people including myself and media analysts like Bill Simmons think that the Suns were the best team in the NBA that season and were robbed by Stern. It’s only a matter of opinion as the Spurs have won 4 titles and nothing anyone says will ever take that away from them yet whenever the Lakers were dominant (early 2000’s under Shaq and Kobe/late 2000’s under Kobe and Gasol) the Spurs faded into the background. This NBA Finals is the first time they’ve faced a dominant team from the Eastern Conference and would give them both a 5th title and some much needed street credibility as a team that can be more than consistent but also dominant. Thursday night will go a long way with how we view future Hall of Fame players like LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, and Tony Parker. History will be made tomorrow night. My prediction is the Heat win by double digits as the Spurs don’t rebound from their disastrous Game 6 collapse. We shall see but either way this has been an incredibly fun NBA Finals to watch so I can only hope it doesn’t end on a down note.

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