Jump ball! It’s anybody’s game in the NBA Finals

It all comes down to tomorrow — or Friday. I’m hoping for Friday. I’m wishing for that tingling, sweat-on-the-palms, heart-pounding excitement that can only happen if Miami wins Game 6 tomorrow.

Can the Spurs, spurred by their season’s final victory in San Antonio, steal one game — like they did in Game 1 — in Miami? The Heat are pressured. Anybody who’s facing extinction will feel scared and anxious. One mediocre 48-minutes, a few lousy turnovers, or another sub-par, 16-point outing by LBJ — and that’s it.

Miami losing in Miami will be the most painful experience for these defending champs. They’d rather lose on the road — when the crowd’s against them anyway — than be silenced at home, in front of their kids.

This series has been as unpredictable as last month’s Cebu elections. You never know who’s going to win. While the Heat won 66 games during the regular season (including 27 straight), now they’ve gone 11 straight without winning two games in a row.

Nobody’s achieved the “M” word. That’s momentum. Just when we thought one team would gain the upperhand, the opposite happens. This finale has been an up-and-down, we-don’t-know-what-will-happen-tomorrow drama.

Manu Ginobili’s been absent. He’s the hero in Game 5! Wade’s a non-factor. He scores 32 in Game 4! Ray Allen shoots another 3-pointer. Wait, it’s Danny Green!
Miami’s Big 3 are the Lousy 3. They go on to score 85 points in Game 4!

There have been so many twists and plots and surprises — nobody can guess the next outcome. But this we know: Since the NBA adopted the 2-3-2 format in 1985, the team that won Game 5 after a 2-all tie has gone on to win 7 out of the 10 finals. This bodes well for San Antonio.

Still, ever the optimist, LeBron is looking to win back-to-back at home. “We’ve been here before,” said James. “We’ve been on both sides of the fences. It doesn’t matter if you’re up (3-2) and you need one more win, or you need one more win [otherwise] you’re out. You can’t sleep. Especially at this point. We’ve got an opportunity to do something special. So we look forward to the challenge.”

On why the Spurs are so difficult to defeat, even with Miami’s roster of super heroes, I like what Michael Wallace of ESPN wrote yesterday in “Will Heat thrive again on cliff’s edge?” He calls them the ‘four necessary intangibles’ of San Antonio.

“They’ve got an efficient attacking point guard in Parker, who even on a gimpy hamstring is exposing the Heat’s position of greatest inconsistency,” Wallace said. “They’ve got an aggressive and smart big man in Duncan, who commands a double team and creates issues for a smallish front line. Add a bevy of capable 3-point shooters, with dynamo Danny Green smashing a Finals record for makes beyond the arc. And last, but certainly not least, the Spurs possess the combination of championship experiences and leadership from Popovich…”

THREE-POINTERS. I had a long and lively discussion yesterday with Cebu’s version of Danny Green… Chester Cokaliong. I asked him to comment on Green’s record-breaking 23 three-pointers.

“This is an amazing record,” Chester said, “but it doesn’t mean to say Danny Green was like this the entire season. He was not. I don’t think Green has even qualified for the three-point shootout. But now, he’s on a streak — and it’s perfectly-timed during the finals.”

Chester’s all-time favorite long-shooter? Larry Bird. “He won three straight three-point shoot-out contests. Next, I like Reggie Miller,” said Chester.

GAME 6. On flying to Florida, Tony Parker had this to say: “We understand Miami is going to come out with a lot of energy and they’re going to play better at home. They’re going to shoot the ball better. Their crowd is going to be behind them. For us, we need to finish as soon as you can. We did that against the Lakers and Golden State and Memphis. So hopefully, we can do the same thing.”

But it won’t be easy. The Heat are 6-0 in the playoffs after a loss. Like I said last Sunday, I’m hoping for one thing: Game 7.

Categorized as NBA
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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