Game 7. That’s all that needs to be said. It feels like every elimination game for LeBron in a Heat uniform has been with his legacy on the line, but in a way, this time it rings true. If LeBron loses tonight, he will have an underwhelming NBA Finals record of 1-3. However, if LBJ puts the team on his back and hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy after the buzzer sounds, the self-proclaimed “2-Time Champion” arrogance will be perceived as greatness.
On the other side, there is another legacy that awaits. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich look to further themselves as one of the greatest player/coach dynasties in NBA history through their quest for a fifth ring. While it may not be easy for the Spurs to overcome Miami’s homecourt advantage in Game 7, Pop has already stated that “it’s supposed to be hard” and you better believe that a Gregg Popovich squad will be prepared.
Here are five major keys to a San Antonio Spurs Game 7 victory.
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“Knock the stuffing out of them”
The Spurs must throw the first punch so that the Heat’s crowd does not become a factor early on. San Antonio has showcased their ability to withstand Miami’s runs throughout this series but in a Game 7 on Miami’s home floor, all bets are off. By feeding Duncan in the post right away and bludgeoning the Heat in the post early, Erik Spoelstra is forced to make a decision on how to guard Timmy D from the get-go. San Antonio needs to be the one initiating the physicality of this contest, especially against an undersized Miami frontline.
Force LeBron to be a facilitator
Was LeBron’s triple-double in Game 6 not the quietest triple-double you’ve ever seen? Even with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, James was a minus-1 in efficiency. It had deja-vu written all over it. LBJ looked as if he wanted no part of the basketball in the last two minutes of regulation, until he finally hit his second attempted three on the same possession to cut the lead to three. The Spurs want the passive, non-aggressive LeBron to show up — not the one who bullies his man on every possession. LeBron will get his buckets. But as Ray Allen stated recently, the Heat play off of his energy, and if for one second James doesn’t look like he’s up for the challenge, it will negatively affect Miami from the top down.
Stretch The Floor
You didn’t expect San Antonio’s surprising three-point duo to be perfect all series, did you? Gary Neal and Danny Green combined for seven points on 3-for-14 shooting in Game 6 after setting the nets on fire in Games 1 through 5. Neal and Green have forced Miami to think twice on double-teaming Parker and Duncan, creating easier scoring opportunities for the veteran point guard and the Big Fundamental. If San Antonio wants to add to their collection of banners, the Spurs will need their role players to step up tonight and stretch the floor, a la Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen.