NBA Finals Game 6 Review: Spurs let one get away

NBA Finals Game 6 Review: Spurs let one get away
June 19, 2013, 2:30 am
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MIAMI — The San Antonio Spurs have a patent on the poker face, a team full of talented players who never seem to get too hyped about success, or too downtrodden in defeat.

Still, the 103-100 overtime loss in NBA Finals Game 6 to the Miami Heat on Tuesday night was different.

This wasn't just another game in the middle of a long season, or just a road playoff game.

This was a series-clincher, the game that would bring an NBA title back to San Antonio for the fifth time in 14 seasons, all but cementing their status as not just the best team of this decade - but one of the best ever.

And yet missed free throws along with a defensive break down here and there, added up to a missed opportunity that the Spurs know may not come around again.

"It's a tough moment," a visibly dejected Manu Ginoboli said afterwards. "We were a few seconds away from winning a championship, and we let it go. A couple rebounds that we didn't catch, a tough three by Ray [Allen] ... a very tough moment."

Fortunately for them, they get a chance at redemption on Thursday night in a winner-take-all Game 7 matchup.

Game 7 of The Finals has not been won by the road team since the Washington Bullets knocked off the Seattle Supersonics in 1978.

Just like history had no bearing on Tuesday's loss, the same holds true to what happens Thursday night.

Still, moving on from what had been a very well-played by the Spurs - and still ends in defeat - won't be so easy to discard.

You won't see on their faces or in their words, even with the sting of defeat so fresh in their minds.

"We have no choice. We have no choice," said Tony Parker. "We have to bounce back. We have to realize we have another great opportunity. It's going to be another great game. I'm sure with the guys on the team we'll be ready to go on Thursday."

Here are some other factors outlined prior to the game, and how they actually played out in the Heat's come-from-behind 103-100 Game 6 win. Now, the winner of the Game 7 matchup Thursday night will be crowned the 2013 NBA champion.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Miami has been tweaking its roster throughout the playoffs, and Game 6 should not be any different. Don't be surprised to see the Heat go back to having Udonis Haslem start, and having Chris Andersen - he has not played (coaches decision) the last two games - back in the rotation to try and counter San Antonio's quicker, small-ball lineup.

WHAT WE SAW: The Heat kept Mike Miller in the starting lineup, and he responded with a solid game of eight points and seven rebounds. Udonis Haslem did not play (coaches decision) as Miami coach Erik Spoelstra shortened his rotation to just eight players.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Tim Duncan vs Chris Bosh: Both Duncan and Bosh have been getting better as the Finals has progressed. Whichever one can come out on top in their head-to-head battle, may prove to be the difference in what should be a tightly contested, down-to-the-wire game.

WHAT WE SAW: Duncan dominated this matchup in the first half, which is when he scored 25 of his team-high 30 points. But to Bosh's credit, he came up with a slew of big plays in the fourth quarter and in overtime in helping the Heat rally for the win.

PLAYER TO WATCH: The hit by the late Tupac, "All Eyez on Me," should be LeBron James' theme song heading into tonight's season-on-the-line Game 6 matchup. A big game by James doesn't necessarily mean he scores a lot of points. But he knows - everyone knows - he has to be more than anything else, a dominant presence on the floor if the Heat are to live to play another game after tonight.

WHAT WE SAW: A turnover late in the fourth had James looking like the game's goat, but a 3-pointer by Ray Allen saved the Heat from playoff extinction and in the case of James, another opportunity to play the role of hero. He made the most of that opportunity, finishing with a triple-double of 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

STAT TO TRACK:  Turnovers have been one of the biggest difference-makers in The Finals so far. The winning team in the first five games averaged 10.2 turnovers that led to 11 points per game. The losers have turned the ball over 15.2 times which generated a 17.2 points per game average off of turnovers.

WHAT WE SAW: Both teams turned the ball over 15 times, with the Heat converting San Antonio's mistakes into 17 points, while the Spurs were able to flip Miami's mistakes into just 12 points.