History, along with common sense, tells us that the home team has an overwhelming advantage in game sevens. The first six games of the series paint a different picture, however. The Spurs have yet to have any significant, dominant runs against the Mavericks. No long stretches were they clearly appeared to be the better team. Every win has seemed a colossal struggle; every defensive stop an accomplishment. Very little has come easy against Dallas.
So will the Spurs win tonight? I don't know. Probably? Would I be surprised if they lose? No.
My keys to the game:
1) Tony Parker. Before game 6 I wrote about my concern regarding the possibility of DAL switching up their defense against The Wee Frenchman. Avery proved my worries justified, playing well off Parker the whole game, coaxing him into an awful 8 points on 3-15 performance. How bad was Tony? Well, Pop left NVE in for the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter, and it didn't give me seizures.
My biggest fear about TP is that he'll see this game as some sort of turning point. He knows what his playoff reputation is, he knows he made his first All Star team this year and he realizes how awfully he played in game 6. I hope he doesn't choose game 7 as the time to prove himself. I have often heard commentators mentioning Pop telling Tony to shoot the ball 25 times a game. I understand his point; be aggressive. But it's a simple fact that Manu and Tim are better offensive options, and the match-up is too close to waste possessions on Parker dribbling around for 15 seconds before sheepishly hoisting up an uncontested 20-footer.
I hope I am proven wrong, but I have a feeling that if the Spurs lose tonight there will be a lot of SA fans calling for Parker's head on a stake.
2) Fouls. Specifically stupid fouls. Duncan managed to put himself into foul trouble in the first half of game 6, committing 2 stupid fouls before getting his third when he inexplicably switched onto Nowitzki. (Why the hell was Pop switching the pick and roll when Duncan had two fouls?) Tim, along with Manu, needs to be extremely careful in the first half. No. Dumb. Fouls. The Spurs are outscored by 10.1 and 11.7 points per 48 minutes when Duncan or Ginobili (respectively) are off the floor. Not much more needs to be said.
3) Get The Sickness involved early. The 2005 version of Ginobili made an appearance on Friday, torching DAL for 30 points with a TS% of 76%. He needs to have the same mindset for game 7, except tonight he better not pass up 2 wide open 3s in the fourth quarter. (I think he was trying to kill me during the end of game 6.) One would think that the more Manu shoots early in the game, the more he will shoot late; and every shot Manu takes is a shot that Tony can't. Basically, we are going back to the tried and true rule of the 2005 playoffs:
If you're name does not end with "uncan" or "obili," you do not, under any circumstances, create your own shot.
If the two of them combine for to take over 57% of the Spurs FGA then SA will win game 7. Ha! There's my pointless, obscure and obtuse statistical predication for determining the winner of tonight's game.
4) Defending the DAL pick and roll. Please, Pop, no switching. Play straight up or send a double team; no more of Tony trying to defend Dirk by placing his forearm against The German's loin regions. It's embarrassing and Eva is a jealous lover.
5) Puckering. Was it just me, or did DAL seem a liiiiiittttttle tight towards the end of game 6? Stackhouse was passing up open jumpers, Devin Harris was throwing the ball right to Michael Finley, Dirk seemed to disappear down the stretch (though he was downright unbelievable for the first 42 minutes). Jason Terry should help, of course, but I certainly wouldn't mind winning game 7 by virtue of a severe Maverick choke job.
6) Finley. Can he make it four games in a row with a monster dunk? Can he make another contested 3 in crunch time? Where the shit did this come from? Matty da Blade and I have a theory. As you know, veterans without rings are hungry and this is what makes them so valuable (and allows GMs to ignore the fact that NVE has the mobility of a tranqued up hippo). Well, Finley must have stole NVE's hunger before the playoffs. I did some digging, and it turns out that hunger is multiplicative, so Fin doesn't have twice the hunger, he has hunger squared. He's one hungry motherfucker! We're talking two cans of Dinty Moore beef stew level of hungry! I want these motherfucking snakes off this motherfucking plane!
I might do some live-commenting during the game and I'll definitely have some thoughts up at half time.