A day after that crazy, improbable, all your favorite adjectives Game 6, I’m still thinking about all that happened at the end of the fourth quarter and overtime, and how that’s going to carry over into Game 7.
Which of course, begs the question whether there will be any carry over at all. Momentum is a strange thing in sports, in that its very existence is often debated. It sits alongside players being clutch and finding the will to win in the category of things that are difficult to define, more of a necessary piece to a narrative, or something only the naked eye can detect.
Take this series as example. In the six games leading up to the finale tomorrow, the teams have alternated wins. The storylines in between games have alternated themselves, and because Miami — and really, LeBron — is the more dominant topic of conversation when it comes to narratives, legacies and all the key talking points when a sport gets to the grandest stage, it has flip flopped between the Heat and the game’s best player either asserting himself, or unable to live up to expectations of ours, of his own, of whoever else cares to chime in.
These swings have not only happened between games, but even during them, Game 6 being a great example. Before headband, after headband. LeBron scored more points in the paint in the fourth quarter of the game than he had in any single game this series. Which makes the whole argument and conversation about legacies a bit ridiculous, a point that Josh Levin at Slate elaborated on today in this wonderful piece.
And so, on one hand, it is easy to stay the course and believe that the heartbreaking nature of Game 6’s ending will translate into nothing at all in Game 7. Although I suppose if Miami gets off to a fast start in Game 7, the correlation between the two will be impossible to ignore. That after all, is momentum in a nut shell: correlation without the evidence of causation.
The Heat sounded relaxed from what I read today. But that’s the same read that many of us had after their blowout win in Game 4 to even the series at 2-2. LeBron wore his practice jersey like a cape, the team spoke with a sense of confidence about how enough was enough, and it was time to string together consecutive wins. And then Danny Green showed up in Game 5 and just kept pressing the square button from beyond the arc and that was the end of that one.
The Spurs, meanwhile, were searching for perspective, which you often find starting with their coach. Popovich, Duncan and Parker echoed the familiar sentiment that if offered a chance before the season to play one game for the championship, they’d all take it.
And still, it’s these situations, when you lose in this particular way, you really wonder about the spill over effect.
This much we know: one team is getting that trophy tomorrow, I suppose we can forget about the six games that got us here, and just view tomorrow as its own game, absent of any correlation to the previous results. That won’t be easy at all, especially if Miami comes out on top, and we have the whole summer — and probably longer than that — to dwell on the Game 6 that snatched a championship from a team that couldn’t have been any closer without actually winning it.
Footnotes (or, about Miami fans leaving early and other things):
1. By now, I’m sure you’ve all read about the hundreds of Heat fans who left the game in the final minute and weren’t allowed back into the arena in overtime. All the relevant videos are over at Deadspin. I try a lot of times to be level-headed about sports and not take too extreme a stance. But really, it’s hard to make excuses here given the history of this fan base and their reputation for being not the most dedicated fans.
Listen, every team in any sport has its segment of bandwagon fans. It’s just how sports works. And I criticize these fans knowing that there are fans in Miami who’ve rooted for their team since before The Decision, and even before the 2006 championship team (though Jimmy Kimmel couldn’t find any).
But to leave in the final seconds of a Finals game does seem improbable if only because you probably paid a lot of money for those seats (again, assuming money matters to these people, it would to be), and also, I’d probably want to stick around to see the trophy presentation just to say I was there.
2. Forgot to mention this in yesterday’s write-up, but Chris Bosh was phenomenal down the stretch in Game 6.
3. Mario Chalmers should wear LeBron’s headband for Game 7.
4. Dream courtside fans for Game 7: Dan Gilbert, Nick Gilbert, Kobe Bryant, Justin Bieber (with glasses) and Stephen Jackson.