Yes, exactly two months to the day, the NBA playoffs will finally come to an end tonight, as the Heat take on the Spurs in Game 7. There are no better words in sport than “Game 7” (“you are not the father” comes in as a close second). The Machine doesn’t care what sport it is, we’ll watch any Game 7. There simply is nothing better in sports.
Loyal readers of The Machine know that we wisely picked this matchup in April. Point: Machine. They’ll also be quick to note that we likened the Heat to the ’96 Bulls. Point: ’96 Bulls. The Heat, while (at times) displaying flashes of overpowering dominance and confidence similar to the ’96 Bulls, have not coasted through the playoffs. They are not perfect, and they are not the ’96 Bulls. The Machine has learned its lesson: no more comparisons to Jordan-led teams (we disavow his tenure with Washington). No one will ever match the brilliance of the ’96 Bulls.
Ok, back to tonight’s game. Who’s going to win? Is The Machine going to back pedal from its (over)hyping of the Heat? The Spurs have exposed the Heat in this series, Danny Green continues to drain threes, Boris Diaw is the most underrated player in the NBA, and Tim Duncan has shown he’s got enough left in the tank for one more epic performance. So the Spurs have a chance, right?
Sorry kiddos, as much as we love an underdog, we simply cannot pick against the Heat. As the fickle Miami crowd was leaving Tuesday night (Christ people, they were only down 5 with 28 seconds left) a flip switched with this team. They realized they were about to lose the NBA Finals, and suddenly remembered that they were the most dominant team since the ’96 Bulls (dammit, we just broke our own rule). From that moment, the Heat went into Champion mode (a/k/a Beastmode), and the Spurs were instantly outmatched and shell-shocked. LeBron nailed a three, the Spurs missed a free through that would’ve put them up 4, and Ray Allen reminded everyone that he’s the best 3 point shooter on the court (suck it, Danny Green). Simply put, the Heat got pissed. At themselves and their own fans. And it’s that motivation that will propel them to Game 7 victory.
The Spurs had their chance to win. They were 28 seconds away from the title and shocking the world. If they could make free throws, we wouldn’t be here. Their window of opportunity has closed, and, much like the one time you made out with the prom queen, it ain’t opening up again.
Despite Chris Bosh and his alternating personalities of dominant center/confused velociraptor, Bron Bron will not let the Heat lose. Look for LeBron to up the aggressiveness on offense and dribble drive to the hole, getting fouled along the way and picking up easy buckets at the line. The only answer to that is to double on the drive, which then LeBron (who doesn’t get enough credit for his passing skills) will find the open shooter (Battier, Allen) or cutter (Birdman/Bosh). And let’s not forget about Wade. D-Wade will drain the knee one last time and will play with the same intensity and poise as he showed in Game 6.
But the Spurs won’t go without a fight. They’ve proven they can hang with the Heat. Timmy and Co. will keep this game entertaining. For all the double-digit snooze fests that we’ve witnessed in this series and the playoffs in general, The Machine thinks this one will be close. We’re hoping for a down to the wire finish, but our money’s on the Heat to cover (garbage free throws) and the under.
The NBA Playoffs might be (read: are) painfully long and difficult to watch but it all ends tonight.
Book it, friends. The Heat will be repeat NBA Champions.