Spurs should blame themselves for blowing Game 6
The Spurs and Heat played one of the best NBA Finals games in recent memory on Tuesday night.
When it was over, Miami managed to survive with a 103-100 overtime victory, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was subjected to critical second-guessing and two of the league’s oldest players came up big.
In a nutshell, the Spurs had this one in the bag. Tony Parker turned in an incredible sequence – tying 3-pointer, steal, spinning jumper – to put San Antonio up 91-89 with 58 seconds left.
Then after LeBron James committed turnovers on Miami’s next two possessions, the season should have been over. But the Spurs made a series of key mistakes in the final 30 seconds.
Manu Ginobili split a pair of free throws, leaving San Antonio up by 5. Then with the Heat aiming for a 3-point shot, Popovich left Tim Duncan (30 points, 17 rebounds) on the bench for the next two defensive possessions.
It proved costly when the Heat grabbed offensive boards both rimes. First, James missed a 3-pointer, Miami got the rebound, and James canned his second 3-point attempt to make it a 2-point game.
Then the scenario repeated itself. This time Kawhi Leonard missed a free throw that could have put the Spurs up by 4. James bricked a 3-pointer, but Chris Bosh grabbed the offensive rebound and tossed it out to Ray Allen, who knocked down a tough corner 3-pointer to tie the score with 5 seconds left.
Another second-guess opportunity arrived in overtime. Trailing by 1 in the final minute, Popovich put Parker on the bench for a defensive possession. That part worked fine, with Dwyane Wade missing a long jumper. But instead of calling time out and getting Parker back in the game, the Spurs kept playing and didn’t convert.
There was some controversy on the next possession as Ginobili took off down the lane and was clearly fouled by Allen, but no call was made. At the same time, Ginobili probably traveled before the foul occurred.
Then after Miami hit 2 free throws with 1.9 seconds on the clock, the Spurs had one last chance and hit Danny Green in the corner. Bosh blocked the shot, but made lots of body contact. Again no call.
Referees should choosy about making late-game calls and even though the last two plays could be disputed, the Spurs have no one to blame but themselves for failing to put it away in the fourth quarter.
Which team will come out sharp in Thursday’s Game 7? Well, James (32 points) played 50 minutes on Tuesday. Among the game’s two 37-year-olds, Duncan played 44 minutes (and didn’t score in the fourth quarter or overtime), while Allen played 41.
Will the seasoned Spurs shake off the Game 6 disappointment or will Miami carry the momentum on its home court? It should be interesting.