You watched Game 6. So did we. You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.
1. Should the Spurs have fouled up by three in the final seconds of regulation?
Jack Winter: To play straight-up looks stupid now, of course, but hindsight is 20-20. Extending a game is dangerous, but giving up a three-point attempt is, too. Catch-22. But if Bosh didn’t get the offensive rebound and kick to Allen, this would all be moot.
Curtis Harris: Strategically perhaps, but as a viewer I applauded the decision to not foul.
Scott Leedy: Yes, no, I dunno. I think in general it’s not a bad strategy, but Ray Allen had to make a pretty ridiculous 3 point shot. Let’s just give Ray credit for that and not worry about it too much. What they should’ve done is play more Tracy McGrady.
Derek James: Again, it’s kind of hindsight to say they should have and if it weren’t for Ray Allen making an unbelievable shot we wouldn’t even be questioning it.
Brian Schroeder: Probably, but I think they (Pop) were trying to not to overthink everything and just play their set. That shot’s not going to go in more than once or twice in a hundred.
Eric Maroun: If they were going to do it, it should have come with about 7 seconds left in the game when Bosh grabbed the offensive rebound. Fouling earlier in the shot clock would have left way, way too much time on the clock and the last thing the Spurs wanted to do was turn this into a free throw battle down the stretch. That’s something that is much easier said than done though because it’s such a split second decision. I have more of an issue with not having Duncan on the floor and them giving up critical offensive rebounds while Duncan sat on the bench than I do with not fouling there.
Amin Vafa: No. 19 seconds left, even up 3, is too much time for a team like Miami. They could easily nail both FTs and get a stop on the other end. I had no issue with that.
2. Should Dywane Wade have been on the court down the stretch for Miami? Should Manu Ginobili have been on the court for San Antonio? Just how difficult a situation do you think it is for a coach when your stars might not be included in your best lineups?
Jack: Wade ruined Miami’s fourth quarter comeback once he took Mike Miller’s place on the floor; the Heat lost any semblance of spacing offensively, and on more than one occasion were forced to scramble on the other end because he was late getting back. And that was all in the last few minutes of regulation! Don’t even get me started on his play in overtime, most specifically Miami’s final possession. Jesus.
Manu’s struggles are more severe than Wade, but his presence late tells a far different story. He can be counted on to make the smartest basketball play most every possession, and he did so by driving through traffic and looking for contact in the game’s final seconds. He even got some, too, but the officials swallowed their whistles! Would Danny Green have been better in his stead late in the fourth quarter or overtime? Sure, but only because of Manu’s physical errors; not his influence.
Curtis: Both of them shoulda been on the bench more, but Wade did turn up his defense at the game’s end. Manu was an unrelenting hot mess all night. I don’t know how difficult it is to sit these guys, since I’m not a coach, but you’d hope any minutes limitations are understood by these players as a move to improve the team.
Scott: I think it’s pretty impossible. It’s really easy to say on Twitter, but to actually sit Wade in the closing minutes of an elimination game is pretty ridiculously difficult. Spolestra is a great coach, and he’s generally not afraid to make big lineup changes, look at what he did to Udonis tonight. I just think sitting Wade is maybe asking a little too much.
As for Ginobili, he absolutely should’ve sat. Put in T-Mac.
Derek: As far as Wade goes, the numbers back it up that LeBron has been better without him. It’s not just LeBron that he’s affecting; his own numbers tonight were not outstanding, especially his efficiency. However, he does serve as a decoy because he’s still Dwyane Wade and there’s that off-chance he’s going to do something special if you give him the chances, so the Spurs have to be aware of that threat if he’s on the floor.
Ginobili seems like a no brainer, especially tonight with eight turnovers to go with just nine points and four fouls. What’s worse is that he was a -21 tonight, so he certainly didn’t help. Like Wade he has been shown to come alive every now and then, just ask the Warriors.
I saw someone make the point on Twitter (I forget who, sorry) that it’s easier for a coach to go down in a close game with their best players on the floor than on the bench even if they’re struggling, even if they’re killing the team. The greater point was that it’s an obvious way to skirt some postgame criticism by having them out there despite them not being your team’s best player.
Brian: No and no. I imagine it’s incredibly difficult, especially given both coaches’ relatively short leashes with underperforming players. They both opted to ride it out, I suppose.
Eric: Should he have been out there? No. But was there any chance Spoelstra was going to actually take him out? No. Same thing with Ginobili and Popovich. It’s difficult as it is to simply not go down firing with the guys that got you there, but this was much more than that for both Wade and Ginobili. They both have meant so much to their teams over the course of their careers that, no matter how poorly they were playing, there was no chance they were not going to be on the floor, for better or worse.
Amin: I can’t even think about the psychology that goes into benching/playing a core star in moments like that, but I couldn’t help but notice that Miami lost all momentum when Wade came back in. Ginobili missed a FT and got smothered on two drives to the basket. It’s not like he was settling for contested mid-range jumpers. But they were both clearly out of gas, and having more defined shooters and rebounders for both teams would have probably been preferable. But those two guys are great at getting to the line. I DON’T KNOW, OK? IT WAS ALL A BLUR!
3. Which had more to do with Tim Duncan’s quiet second half: fatigue or Chris Bosh?
Jack: Both? Timmy regressed to the mean and Bosh played with great intensity. Spoelstra pointed to the latter’s fourth quarter rest as reason for his increased activity, too.
Curtis: I’m pretending that Duncan’s bad offense in the 2nd half never occurred. Next question, please.
Scott: Tracy Mcgr… Wait no. I’ll go with Bosh. Bosh’s game tonight was really underrated, like always.
Derek: Probably some of both. Fatigue combined with seemingly feeding off of the energy of a headband-less LeBron seemed to be the causes.
Brian: Fatigue, but Bosh was responsible for a lot of that fatigue, if that makes any sense. I also think the Heat in general just shifted their D enough to make it nearly impossible for him to catch. Bosh was certainly the leader of that D where Duncan is concerned, but it was a concerted effort.
Eric: The Law of Averages coupled with Bosh. It would have been utter insanity and awesomeness to see Duncan drop a 50 point game to clinch the Finals, and he was on pace to do so after the first half, but deep down we all knew he’d cool down at some point. Sure enough, he was nonexistent scoring wise after the third quarter. Bosh had a great defensive game though which contributed heavily to it.
Amin: Let’s split the difference and say Bosh fatigued Duncan. Duncan played over 40 minutes last night, which isn’t really something he does. So fatigue definitely played into it. But Bosh’s defense was great last night. Great job on the boards, getting hands up in faces. TWO HUGE BLOCKS. My God, why did that game have to end again? Oh right, someone had to win.
4. In 10 words or less, describe your reaction to Miami fans leaving the game early.
Jack: They should have stood their ground, amirite?
Curtis: Mmm mmm mmm, a damn shame
Scott: Who cares. I hate the “better fans” stuff.
Derek: I kinda hope the radios in their cars stopped working.
Brian: Unsurprising, but not a condemnation of that fanbase in particular.
Eric: Insulting to every fan base that’d kill for this team.
Amin: They deserve our attention less than they deserve their team.
5. There were about a millon crazy plays in this game; which was the craziest?
Jack: Just because it’s the easy answer doesn’t mean it’s not the right one – LeBron’s missed three-pointer, Bosh’s rebound and Allen’s game-tying three-pointer with five seconds remaining. There’s a last game on Thursday; every play matters to the final outcome, but there wasn’t a sequence more substantial than this one.
Curtis: I enjoyed Ray Allen plowing into the stands and fans taking pics with their cameras instead of giving Ray Ray room to recover.
Scott: Tie between Bosh’s block on Parker and LeBron’s block on Duncan, both were completely insane plays by great players.
Derek: The Ray Allen three, easy. I was out watching the game with some friends and the place erupted. Everything from the scramble for the offensive rebound to the shot itself made it a crazy one.
Brian: Kawhi had a tip in that seemed to violate physics. Like, where he jumped from. I don’t know, maybe I’m remember the entire game as a series of quantum events, never again to be seen on this plane of existence.
Eric: Is it an understatement to say Ray Allen’s 3 saved the Miami Heat’s season, prevented them from losing 2 of the last 3 Finals and setting them up for an off-season where the possibility of breaking up the Miami Triad is explored, potentially single handedly changed the landscape of the NBA for the years to come with that shot, and vaulted this game into one of the greatest NBA games ever played? Because that’s what it felt like.
Amin: It absolutely has to be that Ray Allen 3 for me. Just absolute perfection.
6. Just how good is Headbandless LeBron?
Jack: About as good as Headbanded LeBron when he’s ultra-aggressive and surrounded by three-point shooters.
Curtis: Sleepy Hollow good
Scott: Almost as good as Tracy Mcgrady, or a head banded Rondo riding a triceratops.
Derek: We’re. Not. Worthy. Please, return to your planet and spare our people. We mean you no harm.
Brian: Roughly the same as Headbanded LeBron.
Eric: I made the comment last night that losing his headband was like The Undertaker having Paul Bearer’s urn taken away from him. I thought for sure the headband was the source of his power. Turns out that he kept rolling along even after the headband was gone much like The Undertaker’s winning streak at WrestleMania continued after Paul Bearer retired from the WWE.
Amin: Is “very very very” an answer to this? Because that’s what I’m going with.
7. Boris Diaw. Explain.
Jack: Impossible. Best I can do is to say he’s not biting on LeBron’s subtle fakes and hesitations, and moves far better laterally in a five-foot box than any of us anticipated. He’s thick as hell, too, which is immensely helpful when defending a player that’s so reliant on strength and physicality.
Curtis: Barrel-chested goodness
Scott: Boris Diaw is like a knuckleball, the end.
Derek: LeBron is now 1-14 with Diaw on him? Perhaps it’s because he’s a strong player with a low center of gravity that is just quick enough to guard him outside. Whatever it is it’s just weird. Seeing him put the ball down on the ground and show off both of his post moves was pretty great, too.
Brian: Pancakes are a hell of a drug.
Eric: In the words of the Insane Clown Posse, magnets. No really, his gravitational force field has been something else this series.
Amin: He was getting criticized for “not contributing” by Jalen Rose after the game last night, but I think he was just looking at the stat sheet. Diaw is a fantastic first line of defense against LeBron. He clogs his penetration into the paint, slows him down, and blocks his view from multiple angles with his size and wingspan. Diaw’s defense gives the rest of the team plenty of time to react to where LeBron’s going to go (or where he’s going to pass). I’m loving this Diaw, and I wish he was out there more in crunch time.
8. Miami’s defense shut down Tony Parker for most of the game. Can they do it again in Game 7?
Jack: If LeBron guards Parker from the opening tip, there’s no reason why not; his defense on Parker in the fourth quarter and overtime was absolutely superhuman. He won’t, though, and Parker will feast when James gets a break.
Curtis: With Parker’s hammy injury, it’s definitely possible. Especially late game when they stick Headbandless LeBron on him.
Scott: Not for all 48 minutes, but I expect them to mostly keep him under wraps. When they play defense like they did in that fourth quarter it’s really tough for Parker to find space and get up a quality look.
Derek: Sure, if they play like this. It also doesn’t help Parker that he’s playing on a bad hamstring.
Eric: Trying to predict anything in this series is like nailing JELL-O to a tree. It’s just about impossible, completely fruitless, and potentially messy. Parker could come out and score 35 points Thursday and I wouldn’t be surprised. Or he could score 5 points and I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s playing Game 7 on a bad hamstring coming off a game where he shot 6-23 from the field so who knows? If I absolutely had to bet on it, I think he scores 20-22 points Thursday on something like 8-17 shooting. Certainly not chump change, but not a transcendent performance either.
Amin: NOTHING IN THIS SERIES IS PREDICTABLE.