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Why the Spurs Couldn't Stand the Heat

By Andrew Goodman

So by this point, any sports fan should know that the Heat beat the Spurs last night to force a Game 7. If you don't know, I'm sorry for spoiling that for you. However, you missed a hell of a game. Last night was one of the best basketball games I have ever seen. It had everything – a fourth quarter comeback, a three-pointer to tie the game with seconds left, and strong runs by both teams. Despite the Spurs sizable leads throughout the game, it was the younger, more durable Miami team that was able to come out with the win.

In the first quarter, it seemed like either team could prevail. Tim Duncan started the game 7-7 with 14 points. For the Heat it was Mario Chalmers who came out of the gate firing, sinking four of five shots, including two three-pointers.

The Heat went up by seven, their largest lead of the night by the middle of the second quarter. The Spurs fought back though, going on a 17-5 run against the Heat in the final seven minutes and thirteen seconds before the half. During this run, Tim Duncan had 11 straight points and Miami was held scoreless for the final four minutes and thirty-one seconds of the half, leaving the Heat trailing the Spurs 50-44.

Heading into the locker room, Tim Duncan had 25 points in the first half alone, while LeBron James had only 9. It seemed like the Spurs had everything going their way and looked to start the second half strong. Baskets by Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard late in the third quarter put the Spurs up by as much as 13. Going into the fourth quarter, the Spurs led the Heat 75-65.

Coach Erik Spoelstra told his team going into the fourth quarter that they just needed to get one good run to get back in this game; coach was right. The Heat dominated the first half of the fourth quarter, going on a 19-7 run to put them up by two with only half a quarter to play. LeBron James had more points in the fourth quarter than he did in the previous three and brought the Heat within two, with 20 seconds remaining. After a Kawhi Leonard free throw, the Heat had no choice but to go for a game-tying, series-extending three-pointer. With seven seconds left, LeBron James missed a 26-foot three-point jumper, but Chris Bosh came up with the offensive rebound. It was then Ray Allen, the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history, who hit perhaps the most important three of his career, draining the shot with only 5.2 seconds left in regulation and forcing the game into overtime tied 95-95.

Overtime was close, as it seemed like either team could win, but in the end it was the Miami Heat who wanted it just a little bit more, as they defeated the Spurs 103-100. Miami has gone from being at a huge disadvantage, being down by two games with only two to play, to being the favorite, with only one game left to play in their building.

So what happened to the Spurs in the second half? What did Miami do differently?

In the second half, Tim Duncan was completely shut down. After a strong first half, Miami began double-teaming the future hall of famer. Duncan, the veteran that he is, was worn down by the Miami defense and had only five points in the second half, all of which came in the third quarter. With Duncan ineffective, the Spurs needed somebody else to step up, but nobody rose to the challenge. The Spurs were held scoreless for the final two minutes and forty-two seconds of regulation.

LeBron James proved in the fourth quarter why he is the best player in the NBA. 16 of his 32 points came in the fourth quarter, when the Heat needed it most. The four-time MVP had yet another triple double with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Until LeBron turned it up in the fourth, the Heat seemed lost.

Both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh continued to miss open jumpers, but it was the three-point shooting that kept Miami alive. In a series that has been dominated by San Antonio's three-point shooting, breaking the record for most threes in any NBA Finals, it was Miami's three-point shooters who kept the game interesting. Mario Chalmers sank four of his five three pointers, Mike Miller was two of two from deep and Shane Battier came off the bench and hit three of his four three-pointers. The Spurs shot only 27.8% from deep, the worst they've shot this series, while Miami shot 57.9%, their best.

The players that won the game for San Antonio in Game 5 were almost invisible on the floor last night. Danny Green, who has been the breakout star of this series, made only one of his seven shots, including four misses from deep. Many (including myself) predicted Green to be the MVP if the Spurs won last night, but with only three points he is going to need a strong showing in Game 7 to gain that title. Manu Ginobili also had a poor showing on the floor last night, scoring only nine points the day after his 25 point performance. Tony Parker, the multi-time all-star was the biggest problem for the Spurs, nailing only six of his 23 shots, but slightly redeemed himself by making six of seven from the free throw line. However, if the Spurs were going to win, these guys needed to produce.

This series is still far from over. It has been back-and-forth the whole way through. So who is going to take home the trophy? Both teams are hungry, but whichever one wants it more is going to win. For the Spurs to win, they need Green, Ginobili and Parker to play like they did in Game 5. For the Heat to win, LeBron has to dominate the ball like he did in the fourth quarter last night. Be sure to catch Game 7 tomorrow night on ABC to see if Tim Duncan can gain his fifth championship ring and lead the Spurs to their first title since 2007 or if LeBron James can lead the Heat to back-to-back titles.

Who do you think will win Game 7? Share your thoughts. Comment below.