Finals Game 6 Rehash: Slipped Away

USA TODAY Sports

In a game where the Spurs were in control for most of 3 quarters, LeBron James and the Heat turned it on in the 4th, forced overtime and were saved by timely three pointers. Game 7 is on Thursday.

Opening Hash

Well, that sucked. As I was watching the game and taking notes, I giddily typed for three quarters, whooping after every Tim Duncan make or a Kawhi Leonard steal and transition dunk. Then in the 4th quarter, those sounds were replaced by groans and sighs. I can still feel my heart beating in my throat. It's going at a fast rate, refusing to slow down after a great, but ultimately, sad Game 6.

In a chance to close the casket on the Miami Heat's season, San Antonio was unable to put the game away, as they turned the ball over late, missed too many free throw attempts and forgot about Ray Allen in the corner. Spurs fans can point the finger at many people in order to blame for the late collapse, but the truth is that the Spurs wouldn't have even been in the game without those crucial and clutch 5 points (a step back 3 and a tough layup) from Tony Parker. LeBron James and Ray Allen hit insane three pointers and forced overtime. Even in the extra period, the Spurs kept their heads up and were leading until the very end, but their inability to grab rebounds doomed them in the final seconds.

The Spurs starters put in heavy minutes, as Pop realized that this could be their final game and went all out to win. Duncan played 44 minutes, Leonard 46, Parker 43, Green 41 and Ginobili 35. There is one day in between Game 6 and 7, which may or may not be enough for the older Spurs to recover. Duncan looked like he may have tweaked his knee when Bosh landed on it, but on the other hand, Wade also has a balky knee which he re-injured, so that's a wash on the older statesmen of the respective Big Three. I do not doubt that the Spurs will come back with a ferocity unseen during these playoffs, as they let an opportunity to grab that championship trophy slip through their fingers.

Everyone says basketball is a game of runs. Our fearless leader, J.R. Wilco, detailed this in the previous Rehash, and it was true once again on Tuesday night. The Spurs put up a ton of points at the end of the second quarter as they rode Tim Duncan for the first half, but the Heat responded right out of the gate in the 3rd. Once again, the Spurs put some distance between themselves and Miami, then LeBron took off his sweatband and his team played their hearts out, cutting a 10 point deficit coming into the 4th and eventually taking the lead. The Spurs were being outscored by James at one point, as they had only 9 points to his double digits with a few more than 3 minutes to go. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker hit timely shots, but it was not enough to vanquish the Heat.

Onto Game 7, and the right to be named the 2012-2013 NBA Champions. So far, each team has traded blows, alternating wins and losses. With the Spurs having lost a heartbreaking game (a la Miami losing Game 1 in this series), how will they respond?

Standard Pop Quote

"We're going to be here all night. Don't be in a rush."

-I don't think that even Pop knew how long this game was going to go.

KAWHI GIF

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The Essential Hash: Another Close Game

Be sure to check out J. Gomez's recap of last night's game.

As I write this paragraph, I just came to realize that the only two games I've covered (Game 1 and Game 6) have been decided at the very end, unlike the four games in between, which were pretty much blowouts. I'm also going to cover Game 7, so don't blame me if it's a close one. Knowing how good both of these two teams are, it will likely come down to the wire once again.

Tim Duncan came out strong in the first half. Actually, that's an understatement. He came out looking like he wanted that Bill Russell Finals MVP award, as he scored 25 (half of the team's output) in the first half. The Heat were still in the game, even though LeBron James wasn't scoring well, as they were propped up by Mario Chalmers' double digit output in the half. At this point, Manu still had zero points, and on top of that, he had 4 turnovers, a bad trend that would continue in the second. Nonetheless, the Spurs were in good position, up 6 points at the half, with the Heat displaying a tired and defeated body language.

In the third quarter, there was more good news for the Spurs, as they ended that period with a 10 point lead. Tony Parker got to the line and buried some free throws and a couple of field goals. Tim Duncan's output slowed down, as he scored only 5 points in the period (and would not score at all in the 4th). Parker, Manu Ginobili and points from role players like Diaw and Neal allowed the Spurs to withstand runs from the Heat.

With only 12 minutes to salvage their season, the Heat played like a team possessed. Seemed like they doubled or tripled team every ballhandler on nearly every Spurs' possession, causing bad shots, at least one shot clock violation and many turnovers. Meanwhile, the Heat were unstoppable on the offensive end, as LeBron James bulldozed into the heart of the Spurs' defense and either made tough shots in traffic or passed to the wide open man on the perimeter, who made tough plays by either hitting a falling shot in the corner or one without a shoe. The Spurs were able to rally late in the game, off a beautiful step back Parker 3 (which tied the game at 89), and a steal plus a layup also Parker. Down two possessions in the waning seconds of the quarter, the Heat hit two three pointers on three attempts and grabbed two more rebounds than the Spurs (all while Tim Duncan was on the bench in order to play small to guard the perimeter). Ray Allen forced overtime off a rebound/pass by Chris Bosh.

In overtime, the Spurs were outscored 8-5, only scoring on three possessions (two Leonard field goals and a free throw split by Tony Parker. LeBron James had a hand in 6 points on the Heat's end, putting up the Heat 101-100 with less than 2 minutes to go. The Spurs missed their remaining four shots and lost the ball a couple of times in the process. The Heat held on to force Game 7, which will be this Thursday.

Bird is the Word

By the Numbers

  • 5-18 - Spurs three point field goals, good for 27.8%. No Spur made more than one.
  • 11-19 - Heat three point field goals, good for 58%. Chalmers was 4-5, Battier was 3-4, and Mike Miller was 2-2. Ray Allen and LeBron James missed all of their attempts other than the makes in the final twenty seconds in the fourth quarter.
  • 43.5%/46.9% - Spurs/Heat Field Goal percentage. The Spurs were hitting at nearly a 60% clip in the first half, but that rate plummeted once the Heat went into desperation mode in the 4th.
  • 30-17 - Tim Duncan's Points-Rebounds total. He slowed down in the second half, but if his teammates had been able to match his intensity and focus, the Spurs would've been celebrating right about now.
  • 22-11-3 - Kawhi Leonard's Points-Rebounds-Steals total. Again, not many plays were run for Kawhi, but he had hustle plays and second chance points galore. His steals and transition points were crucial for the Spurs, who aside from Leonard and Duncan, were shooting terribly.
  • 13 - Turnovers? Wait no, Assists. Actually, it's both. The Spurs somehow almost won this game by having a 1:1 Assist:Turnover ratio. The Heat had 23 assists and 15 turnovers, a ratio closer to 1.5:1.
  • 2 - Triple doubles that LeBron James has in the 2012-13 Finals. His latest is magnificent, a 32 point, 11 assist and 10 rebound performance in an elimination game. He added 3 steals to that as well.
  • 3 - Spurs with assists in this game. Tony (8), Manu (3) and Boris (2) were the only San Antonio players to notch an assist. Miami had 6 such players, all with at least 2.
  • 100 - The point total pace achieved during the first three quarters by the Spurs, as they scored 25 in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarter. Their ending total was 100, but that accounted for the overtime period, as they only scored 20 in the 4th quarter and 5 in the final frame.

Going into the Next Game, the Spurs Need to...

...keep their heads high. They almost had this game. Silver lining: lots of box score stats are going the Heat's way, yet the Spurs were in control for nearly the entire game. They let the game slip away, needed choking performances and miracle shots in order to lose, but they will regroup and will come back strong in Game 7. Let's hope the W-L-W-L-W-L alternation stays true.

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