Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals will have to be one of the most intense and magnificent games of basketball ever played if it is going to live up to the bar that was set in Game 6.
They have one final chance to match up, this time with the series tied and a single game deciding which side will hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy and which will leave the arena feeling nothing but disappointment.
Let’s take a look at where you can watch this thrilling contest, highlight a key player and stat to keep in mind, make a prediction on the final score and more.
When: Thursday, June 20, at 9 p.m. ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
Player to Watch: LeBron James
After King James’ headband-less assault on the Spurs in the fourth quarter of Game 6, everyone is now waiting to see which version of the league’s reigning MVP will show up on Thursday.
Will it be the timid, hesitant LBJ who wasn’t able to keep his team from falling into a double-digit hole after three quarters who shows up, or will we see the new-look, aggressive, foot-on-your-throat James who used his sheer force of will and world-class talent to keep the Heat alive?
Don’t be surprised if it’s a bit of both, as James has yet to display the sort of cold, calculating dominance that has allowed players like Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan to take over an entire game.
However, in the fourth quarter, expect James to once again exert his will on the action.
Key Stat: Home Team Hasn’t Loss Game 7 since 1978
The Washington Bullets were the last team to take Game 7 on the road, way back in ’78. Wes Unseld led his squad to a championship over the Seattle Supersonics, back when the format was still 2-2-1-1-1.
However, no other road team since has been able to capture Game 7, especially with the daunting 2-3-2 format.
After tying things up in front of their fans on Tuesday, the Heat now get a second straight game in South Beach and are looking to continue the tradition of home-court advantage trumping the opposition.
The Heat will look to prove that playing hard throughout the year and earning the best record in the regular season pays off, as they are in the driver’s seat with history on their side going into Thursday night’s contest.
Prediction: Heat Defend Their Crown
Despite a valiant effort from the Spurs—especially Tony Parker and Tim Duncan—they just don’t have what it takes to emerge with a “W” after being absolutely drained in Game 6.
Manu Ginobili, one of the longtime leaders in San Antonio, admitted as much. The Argentinian superstar addressed the press, via ProBasketballTalk, after the heartbreaking loss:
I have no clue how we’re going to be reenergized. I’m devastated. But we have to. There’s no Game 8 afterwards. We’re going to have to play our best game, even better than today. Shoot better, better defense, less turnovers in my case, but, yeah. There’s no secret recipe for bouncing back.
It’s unlikely that coach Gregg Popovich is going to be able to get his players motivated and ready to give it their all, considering the Spurs left it all out on the court in Game 6 and came up short.
The Heat are going to win and win big, destroying the Spurs and proving that they are still the NBA’s powerhouse.
Heat 104 – Spurs 90