One game. The entire season has come down to one single game. Miami showed a lot of heart in Game 6, coming back after it looked like the game was over. Not only did that comeback build up the Heat’s confidence, it now becomes a whisper in the collective brain of the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio was 30 seconds away from their championship celebration, but had it ripped away from them by LeBron and the Heat. How will they respond to the heartbreak of that meltdown? Can they overcome the emotional devastation of Game 6? Not if LeBron has anything to say about it.
So let’s get right to the point, why will the Heat win Game 7? To put it simply, because LeBron James won’t let them lose. He didn’t let them lose Game 6, and he won’t let them lose Game 7 either. LeBron had a pedestrian first three quarters in Game 6 by his standards, then he dialed up his sense of urgency. During the fourth quarter and OT LeBron was aggressive, attacking, and decisive. He knew that it wasn’t going to get done if he didn’t do it himself. So he put the team on his back and scored 16 points on 7-10 shooting in the fourth quarter.
When it was all said and done, LeBron had 32 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and a blocked shot. That is the stat line of a man who doesn’t want to end his season with a loss. LeBron was watching his legacy being written right before his eyes, and he wouldn’t let that chapter end on a sour note. Whether it was fear of failure or will to succeed, LeBron did what he had to do to get his team to Game 7.
Watch for LeBron to come out strong and aggressive in Game 7, he understands that he can’t sit back and let the game come to him; he has to go and get it. The other members of the Big 3 have been inconsistent to say the least, putting the pressure squarely on James’ shoulders. LeBron must bring everything to this final game: his ability to drive the lane and either score or kick it out, mid-range jumper, low-post game, rebounding, perimeter defense, post defense, he might even have to bring the team’s Gatorade to this game. That is a ton to put on one player, but if we have learned anything from this series, it’s that the Heat’s fate rests solely in the hands of LeBron James.
Despite how good LeBron is, he still needs some help from his team. Dwyane Wade needs to show up and hit some open shots to take a little pressure off LeBron. When Wade doesn’t hit his shots it clogs up the floor because the Spurs are not worried about him shooting threes, in fact they want him shooting from out there. Chris Bosh has to step up, both on offense and defense. Bosh can help on both ends of the floor by rebounding, crashing the boards when James or Wade drives, and cleaning up defensive rebounds to stop the Spurs from getting second-chance points. Bosh could help himself on defense by battling Tim Duncan before he gets position down on the low block.
The supporting cast just needs to do their jobs and contribute when given opportunities. Ray Allen hit one of the all-time greatest shots in NBA Finals history in Game 6, but that doesn’t change the fact that he had done virtually nothing up to that point. When Allen is hitting his shots it opens up the defense and gives James lanes to drive through. Mario Chalmers had a huge Game 6, putting in 20 points. The problem with Chalmers is his inconsistency, he was held scoreless in Game 3. Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen can make a huge impact on this game by giving their team 15 good minutes of defense and rebounding. Mike Miller is another guy who can spread the defense out with his shooting; he even had a few nice drives in Game 6. Shane Battier can add a spark off the bench, but he does not look like the same player from last year’s finals. Finally, Norris Cole can make a contribution by playing tight defense on Tony Parker.
In the end, it all begins and ends with LeBron James. This is his moment, his team, his legacy. The story is in his hands, and the happy ending is his to write.
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