Heat vs. Spurs Game 7: Everything on the line in tonight’s NBA Finals

ANALYSIS - The Heat and Spurs have gone back and forth, trading wins and losses like two heavyweights fighting towards a draw. Except their are no ties in basketball, no co-champions...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Game 6 was epic. But Game 7 decides who hoists the Larry O’Brien Trophy as NBA Champions in 2013.

The Heat and Spurs have gone back and forth, trading wins and losses like two heavyweights fighting towards a draw. Except their are no ties in basketball, no co-champions.

Since the Spurs opening victory in Game 1, the Heat have come up big when they’ve needed to, and the Spurs have been unable to put LeBron and company away for good.

Through six games, no team has won two games in a row. The pattern hasn’t happened in an NBA Finals since 1978 when the SuperSonics and Bullets split the first six. The Bullets prevailed in Game 7.

No Game 8 

“I have  no clue how we’re going to be reenergized,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said after Game 6. “I’m devastated. But we have to. There’s no Game 8 afterwards.”

Down five points with less than 30 seconds to play, the Heat scrapped and clawed their way back to force overtime. The Spurs allowed second-shot attempts on each of the three pointers the Heat ultimately made.

Tim Duncan put on a basketball clinic in the first half, scoring 25 points and missing only two of his 13 shots. He finished the game with 30 points, scoring just 5 on 2-8 shooting in the second half and overtime.

Up and down play from a superstar – bizarre as it seems, it’s right in line with how this series has gone. After a loss, each team has been able to come back the next game and play better, sometimes way better. Danny Green comes to mind in Game 3.

The legacy question

LeBron James called Game 6 the “best game” he’d ever played in. He finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. It’s not that a Game 7 loss would permanently damage LeBron’s legacy, but more so that a win would undoubtedly strengthen it.

It’s an obvious point but an important one. James has plenty of basketball left in him. The issue is that he’s LeBron James and the rest of the league isn’t. So a LeBron loss might as well be 20 losses. And a Finals loss might as well be 100.

Magic played in eight Finals, winning three. Bird reached five Finals, winning three.

Getting to the Finals is hard. Winning in the Finals is harder. A loss would put James at a career Finals mark of 1-3, company he would share with his fellow #6 Julius Erving.

Michael Jordan was perfect in the Finals, winning six times in six tries. But he had help, consistent help. LeBron will need help, as Kurt Helin points out for ProBasketballTalk

Duncan’s never lost in the Finals in four tries. The Spurs as a unit are more championship-tested than their opponents. James, along with his ‘Big Three’ mates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, have an opportunity to make good on their promise of multiple championships.

As our Stefen Lovelace pointed out when the series began, Dwyane Wade is key. A more aggressive effort from Wade, whose health and play have been as up and down as at any point in his ten NBA seasons, could be the difference. He doesn’t have to put up 30 – and given his health, that’s probably not realistic.

But if he’s aggressive, the Heat should be fine. LeBron will get his, but his Robin is needed more than ever.

Follow theGrio’s Sports Editor Todd Johnson @rantoddj