There are two certainties heading into tonight’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals: this series has been a classic and one team will finally be crowned.
The Spurs and the Heat have been trading wins since Game 1 and no two games have been alike. ESPN says 16.8 million people watched Tuesday’s Game 6 overtime instant classic on ABC, surpassing the previous high of 11.4 million viewers for Game 4.
It’s an easy bet tonight’s game will be the most watched of the series. For many people, Game 7 will be the only one they watch. Others will watch tonight’s denouement with a mind full of context. Regardless of your level of fandom, here’s what you need to know:
- Tonight’s game is in Miami. It is the fourth Heat home game, and Miami is 2-1 at home, not to say they have the best home fans. Two of the three Miami games have been close: San Antonio won Game 1 92-88 and Miami won Game 6 103-100.
- The Heat ripped the championship out of the Spurs hands on Tuesday. The Spurs had a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter, only to lose in overtime. The Spurs were devastated.
- Basketball is a game of runs, and this series has had seen some huge ones. Miami won Game 2 behind a 33-5 run. The Spurs went on a 21-2 run in their Game 5 win. Games 2-5 were not close because the winning team was able to reach a gear the other team could not match for a long period of time. In Game 6, both teams played at very high levels. With the season on the line, one extended run could win the championship.
- League MVP LeBron James has played very well this series. He recorded triple-doubles in Games 1 and 6 and is the queen of the basketball chessboard, capable of anything where others specialize in select moves. James has fluctuated between facilitator and scorer throughout the series and within games. His game may appear perplexing at times, but at the end of night he will likely be near another triple-double.
- Fun fact: The Heat are undefeated when LeBron records a block. Here’s his epic rejection of Thiago Splitter in Game 2:
- The Heat are looking to become the first team to come back from down 3-2 in the Finals since the 2010 Lakers. The Spurs are seeking to win a Finals Game 7 on the road for the first time since the 1978 Washington Bullets.
- Spurs wingman Danny Green has already set the Finals record for three-pointers. He is 26-43 from downtown, but was held to 1-5 shooting in Game 6 after the Heat said they would stop leaving him open. Miami’s refusal to leave Green gave Spurs star Tim Duncan room to operate down low against Heat big man Chris Bosh without help. Duncan scored 25 points in the first half, but only five in the second half of Game 6.
- Both teams have gotten boosts from atypical looking players. Chris “Birdman” Andersen is Miami’s energy player off the bench:
- Boris Diaw, is LeBron’s occasional Kryptonite and always a deft passer:
- Both team’s shooting guards are enigmas. The Spurs Manu Ginobili sparked San Antonio’s Game 5 win, but has played poorly the rest of the series. Miami’s Dwyane Wade’s left knee is banged up and limiting his play, except when it isn’t. He was outstanding in Games 4 and 5, but subpar in the others. In fact, the Heat are struggling when Wade and James are on the court together. Will Miami coach Erik Spoelstra try to win Game 7 with Wade on the bench?
- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is 30-0 in playoff series when given the first chance to close his opponent out. Can his teams remain perfect?
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