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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Last Name Ever...First Name Greatest

Look ma! No (head) band!! 3
I am at a loss for words after Game 6 of the NBA Finals, won by Miami by three points in overtime. As I have said time and time again, the NBA's value proposition to the public is that it offers better theater, especially in the playoffs, than any other American sport.

There is no point in throwing out the X's and O's, statistics, or analyzing what happened down the stretch. We all saw the same game and the numbers are what they are. But the theatrical points in Game 6 place this Finals match among the greatest of all time. I haven't seen a better playoff game in the last 10 years and I am struggling to think of comparably dramatic Finals games in my lifetime.


Rather than analyze the game itself, I think basketball fans were best served from the points of theater in this game.

Theatrical point: Miami regains the lead. - The Heat trailed by 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter. A lead of this size heading into the final frame always heavily favors the team in the lead. When the chance to close out a playoff series, not to mention the championship, is on the line, a comeback is nothing short of epic. Epic is what we got. LeBron James, with some help from the opportunism of Mike Miller and Chris "Birdman" Andersen, caught fire in the fourth quarter. When Miami (quickly) wrestled the lead away from San Antonio and went ahead, the momentum completely shifted and, dare I say, there was an an aura of destiny in the air, the razor thin margin of the Heat's victory notwithstanding.

Theatrical point: San Antonio hits back, appears to have the championship in the bag. - The Spurs counter-punched the punches of the Heat to keep Game 6 a tit-for-tat contest. Tony Parker had a hot flash and helped lead the sequence of events to put the Spurs up by five in the final minute. I thought it was over and so did the league. Reportedly, event staff was preparing to roll the Larry O'Brien Trophy onto the floor in Miami. That roll would stop at the threshold of the tunnel to the court.

Theatrical point: LeBron gives the Heat hope. - The Spurs' Kahwi Leonard, an 82% free throw shooter, missed one of two foul shots in the final minute of regulation. The game is now a moderate two possession game. The Heat miss...the Heat rebound (also clutch)...LeBron James squares up and swishes a three point shot to cut the lead to two and give Miami a significant chance to win the game.

Theatrical point: Ray Allen - LeBron James got an open look from downtown but missed...right into the hands of the Heat's Chris Bosh on the rebound. Then the greatest three point shooter in the history of the league did what we expected, with no margin for error. Five seconds remain and the Heat give the Spurs nothing...but overtime.

Theatrical point: The Heat secure a three point lead late. - San Antonio had a chance to win in the finals seconds of overtime when Dwyane Wade missed a long jumper and the rebound landed into the awaiting hands of Kawhi Leonard. San Antonio can win the championship with one basket and...TURNOVER! Ray Allen rips Manu Ginobli, hits two free throws to make it a three point game. Jeff Green of the Spurs has his desperation three point shot locked by Chris Bosh and the game is over.

If the Heat win on Thursday, we will see this image replayed for decades. 2

It's the greatest event in sports: one game for all the marbles. I've expressed my opinion on what I think happens in such a situation. It's up to the Heat to execute. However, it is highly unlikely that anything that happens on Thursday night can compare to the unlikely path that made a seventh game possible.

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1) Image from a prior post in The Daily Hat Trick.
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