After staring blankly at this WordPress document for a half-hour, I’ve decided Game 6 — a 103-100 overtime win for the Heat — warrants two recap posts. So, in this post, I’ll focus on Miami, and Wednesday evening, I’ll publish something from a Spurs perspective. Both will be my best, though probably still feeble, attempts to recap what the hell happened in American Airlines Arena, and look ahead to Game 7.
On LeBron James…
Another first half, same story for LeBron James. LBJ finished the first 2 quarters with only 9 points, and though it was far from a poor showing, I expected more from James in an elimination game. After all, if Miami loses this series, that means LeBron’s 1-3 in his NBA Finals career. Tim Duncan has yet to lose in 5 appearances, Michael Jordan never lost in 6, and Kobe Bryant has lost twice but won 5 times.
LeBron really turned it up early in the fourth — there was a stretch where, per the ESPN telecast, he had scored or assisted on 16 straight Miami points. His intensity on both ends was absolutely sensational, and he brought Miami back from a 10-point deficit to start the quarter on sheer will. His final stat line: 50 minutes, 32 points on 11-26 from the field, 1-5 from 3 and 9-12 from the foul line, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 6 turnovers.
James had a tough go of things late in the fourth — he turned the ball over on consecutive possessions as the Spurs built a 5-point lead. But he also hit the 3, granted on his second attempt that possession, to cut the lead to 2; a Kawhi Leonard free throw and subsequent Ray Allen 3, after a LeBron miss, would force OT.
As basketball fans, the standard we hold this guy to is insane. Erik Spoelstra and the Heat have seemingly been riding his coattails since the U.S. won gold in London. He’s the best player in the league, best rebounder, scorer and passer on his own team and best defensive player. And I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
For Chris Bosh, a tale of 2 halves…
Bosh finished with a pedestrian 10 points in 39 minutes, but also added 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, one at the end of regulation and another on Danny Green’s game-tying 3-point attempt as time expired in overtime. And it was Bosh, with Duncan on the bench, who secured the board and kicked it out to Ray Allen in what would amount to the game-tying 3 to force OT (and save Miami’s season).
In the first 24 minutes, though, Bosh was hardly a fan favorite. Duncan, 37, was having his way with CB on the block, finishing with 25 points and 8 rebounds by intermission. To Bosh’s credit, Duncan only scored 5 more in the second half, though I’d attribute much of that to less touches.
A quick anecdote to sum up Bosh’s night: With about 20 seconds left in the 4th, I was messaging a friend about potential Bosh trade ideas. After all, he was destroyed by a 37-year-old forward in an NBA Finals elimination game on his home floor. But then, the rebound and the block happened.
Miami’s role guys: Miller, Allen, Chalmers, Battier & Birdman
I thought Mike Miller was fantastic in this one, and so too did Spo, given he rode Miller, with Wade on the bench, until about the four-and-a-half mark in the 4th with his team’s season on the line. He only scored 8 points on 3-4 shooting — one of his 3’s came with only 1 shoe on — but he gave Spo 30 quality minutes and 7 rebounds. His +/- of +15 was tops among Heat players and only behind Duncan (+16) for the game.
Ray Ray scored 9 tonight, but none more important than the step-back 3 that forced OT; in fact, Allen probably never has nor never will hit a shot that big, unless he sinks a buzzer beater to win Game 7. His defense is also, at least to the naked eye, no longer a glaring liability; Spo even elected to keep him on the floor at the end of regulation and OT, with San Antonio needing a bucket to win or tie.
Mario Chalmers tallied 20 points in 43 minutes, the second-most of any Heat player, as Spo shortened his bench again, meaning a DNP – Coach’s Decision for Norris Cole. Chalmers’ offensive output slowed in the second half, but, aside from a turnover with about a minute left in regulation, he was efficient: 20 points on 7-11 from the field, 4-5 from 3, 4 rebounds and a +13 +/-, trailing only Miller on his team.
Battier and Chris Andersen gave Miami quality defensive minutes; Shane drew a charging foul within seconds of entering the game, and Andersen, subbed in for Bosh, kind of slowed Duncan for periods of the first half. Battier also hit 3-4 from 3 in 13 minutes, and I’d guess he sees more action in Game 7.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Check back later for the San Antonio side of things.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.