With a historic Game 7 on tap, we take a look at five important lessons learned through the first six games of the NBA Finals.
Remember that 19-point runaway San Antonio suffered in Game 3? They don’t either. So short were their memories, in fact, that the Spurs answered with a 36-point shellacking behind Danny Green and Gary Neal’s 3-point explosion.
The last time San Antonio lost consecutive games? April 15, when the Spurs had already clinched the first seed in the West and were resting the Big Three.
If any team can shake off a loss like that of Game 6, it’s a Spurs team that’s been doing what they do for the last decade.
If LeBron, Wade or even the Birdman blocks that potential game-tying 3-pointer by Danny Green, they’re getting swarmed by teammates. They’re getting major gushing from the media.
Chris Bosh got a couple passing high-fives from bench warmers after the win-clinching defensive play. That’s it.
If that doesn’t have the not-quite-accepted-by-the-cool-kids stink, consider this: LeBron may get slammed for when his team loses, but his name is spoken in almost hallowed tones when he wins. Bosh, even when he’s the one making the plays (see: offensive rebound that led to Ray Allen’s game-tying 3-pointer), gets neither.
The Lakers didn't learn in 2008. The Bulls didn't learn in 2009.
Incredibly, the Spurs joined the list of teams that forgot leaving Ray Allen open -- whether he has the ball or not -- is the worst mistake possible when a 3-pointer makes all the difference.
Not that the Heat are absolved from guilt either. These two teams are supposed to be among the best perimeter-defending clubs in the league.
Instead, guys like Allen, Mike Miller, Gary Neal and Danny Green have never been more wide open.
After shooting an astronomical 56.5 percent from the field during the regular season, LeBron has eclipsed 45 percent just once through the first six games of the Finals (Game 4).
The other five games: 43.8, 41.2, 33.3, 36.4 and 42.3 percent.
Two decent shooting games out of seven sounds more than reasonable, though saying LeBron is due could simply be a case of disrespect toward Kawhi Leonard’s defense.
That being said, LeBron has stepped it up when Miami needed it most.
At the very least the Argentinean looked like a wounded duck on his missed drive to the basket late in overtime in Game 6.
And that was just one of his several terrible misses while hitting 41.7 percent of his attempts in the Finals.
Like LeBron, Ginobili has turned in just one good shooting game in this series (Game 5), but there’s far less reason to think he’ll bounce back before the four-time MVP.