by Kent Sterling
The Spurs chances to win a fifth World Championship were at 98.6% with :28 seconds left in Game Six. Now, there are a lot of people saying the odds are now reversed in the Heat’s favor.
A lot of good things have to happen for the Spurs to win tonight, and run from South Beach with the Larry O’Brien Trophy in their clutches.
On the plus side for the Spurs, they are 48 minutes away from winning it all. The Bad is that they were one stop or two free throws away less than 48 hours ago.
More good news for the Spurs, they haven’t followed a loss in the 2013 NBA Playoffs with another loss. Even better, the Heat haven’t won two in a row since game five of the Bulls series and game one of the Pacers series (seems like three years ago).
Outstanding news for the Spurs – they are 14-3 on the road in potential clinching games. The awful? The third loss happened Tuesday.
The Spurs have an experienced and dominant first ballot hall of fame power forward in Tim Duncan who might have a little left in the tank. Unfortunate that he’s countered by the best player of his generation with an energy pack that never empties.
Here are the seven things that must happen for the Spurs to find a way to finish off a team that somehow believes after one trip to the winner’s circle that they are destined to be champions again and again
- Good Manu must show up. The guy who turned it over eight times on Tuesday better have been exorcised, or this series is over.
- The Spurs need to limit points off turnovers. If the Heat are allowed to score in transition, they are impossible to beat. In Game One, the Spurs only turned to ball over four times. If that happened again, the Spurs win. I can’t believe that’s possible, so what is absolutely necessary is to control the damage by getting back on defense to stop easy conversions.
- Tim Duncan needs to play a full game like he played the first half Tuesday. He doesn’t need to score like he did, but the energy he brought was old school Tim Duncan. That guy lifts his team. Duncan played more minutes Tuesday than he’s played in a game since 2008. Healing a 37-year-old body to the point where it’s ready for another 40+ minutes of sprinting and pounding doesn’t normally happen in 48 hours.
- Tony Parker needs to hit shots. He was 6-for-23 Tuesday, but that was a function of a dedicated effort by the Heat to keep him from being the efficient guard that he normally is. The Spurs need to find a way to free him up to create – easier said than done.
- Someone unexpected needs to score well, just as Danny Green did through the first five games of the series, and how Mario Chalmers for the Heat did in Game Six. Similarly, the Spurs need to stop Chalmers or Miller from beating them. The Heat defense on the interior is soft, so why not Tiago Splitter? Why not? Because he can’t defend against the Heat.
- Make Dwyane Wade beat you. Whether Wade is hurt, tired, or ambivalent is anyone’s guess, but he hasn’t been very good in this postseason. LeBron James seems not to play as well when Wade is on the floor, so giving Wade some opportunities might diminish James as an asset. That’s a stretch that defies logic, but these are desperate times that require odd extrapolations.
- Gregg Popovich needs to find clever methods to rest necessary components and limit bench exposure. Somehow, the bench needs to hold its own, but that’s a tough ask. As Popovich tried to buy minutes for Duncan and Parker at the end of the third period and into the fourth, the game completely changed. Duncan was pulled with :39 left in the third with the Spurs ahead 75-63. When Parker sat to begin the fourth, the Spurs led 75-65. When Duncan returned with 9:22 left in the fourth, the Spurs lead had shrunk to 79-75. As Parker reported with 7:35, the lead was down to 82-79.
Basketball isn’t a complicated game – create space offensively, limit second chance points, and take care of the ball. That is a recipe for winning regardless of the combatants. The Spurs succeed from possession to possession at doing those three things, they win.
Can’t wait to see if they are able to get that done.
By the way, I welcome new Twitter followers. No spam, just passionate sports stuff @kentsterling