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NBA Finals Game 6 Preview: Will we see the best of the Heat?

Jun 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

BASKET-NBA-FINALS-SPURS-HEAT Getty Images

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra asked the most pertinent question about Game 6 just after the end of Game 5:

“Can we put together our best game on both sides of the floor in Game 6?”

Over the course of a long NBA season the San Antonio Spurs built very good habits as a team — make a mistake and they exploit it. They move the ball, they move off the ball and they exploit your weaknesses, your mistakes. Sunday night in Game 5 when they went with Manu Ginobili in the starting lineup San Antonio did to Miami what Miami did to other teams all season long — force them to make tough choices then exploit any mistake. They are the best in the NBA at it.

Over the course of a long NBA season the Miami Heat coasted, then played with focus in spurts. Their raw talent and those spurts got them 66 wins, they showed a powerful defense for stretches, they showed great ball movement at times. But it came and went, good habits were not built to fall back on when things got challenging in the playoffs.

Things are challenging now — the Spurs lead 3-2 and if they win Game 6 Thursday night San Antonio will deservingly hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy as NBA champions.

When the Heat have played with focus and force — as Eric Spoelstra likes to say — they have outscored the Spurs and put on impressive runs. They did that several times in Game 5 to dig out of the hole they put themselves in with careless defense early.

This is not to say the Heat have lost three games — the Spurs have won these games with their play. The Spurs do not wilt. The Spurs fight back. They are too talented, too disciplined, to battle hardened. They are too good. They will continue to exploit your mistakes; they will not just fold like so many others under the pressure of Miami runs. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are special players.

Miami only has a chance to win if they are at their very best, consistently all game. The Heat have yet to show they can do that.

Why do you think Danny Green has set the NBA record for three pointers in a series? Because he’s good, certainly. But also because he’s getting good looks as Dwyane Wade and other Heat players sag off him, lose track of him. It’s an unfocused Heat defense and what the Spurs do is exploit mistakes.

“I mean, this is the kind of team that I feel capitalizes on any mistake you make,” Wade said after Game 5. “So if you’re half a second late, they capitalize on it. “

Wade has been more than half a second late plenty. All the Heat players have now.

For weeks now, the Heat have bounced back from losses because they only seem to play their best when challenged. This will be their biggest challenge — the Spurs will play well, they will not make mistakes. They will not beat themselves.

Miami has to play its best to beat them.

So Spoelstra’s question is the real question of Tuesday night.

“Can we put together our best game on both sides of the floor in Game 6?”

If they can we will see a Game 7. If not, the Spurs are champions.

  1. heat256 - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    They have to. There is much more on the line than just a championship. Players will most certainly be leaving. Coaches too perhaps. Legacies will be altered, and not in a good way. The maddening thing that has dogged this Heat team is their lack of consistency and urgency. Game 5 presented them with a supreme opportunity. They got within what, 75-74 or something like that, and then the Spurs just blew them out of the water. Why didn’t they turn up the defensive intensity, take the crowd out of it, and execute smartly enough to take the series lead? If they lose the series, which they may very well do, then they will have gotten what they deserved. Period.

    • daniel10017 - Jun 18, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      I would expect Spolstra to be fired if the Heat don’t win tonight. Getting to the finals 3 years is not enough. You have to win them all. In a way the Heat might be billed on the same page as the 1986-1990 NY Mets and the 1989-1993 Buffalo Bills. Just enough mental make-up to win championships. Both of those squads underachieved. Miami will be in a reacting rather than a proactive mode for fear Lebron opts out and leaves in July 2014. You will see either Pat Riley or Phil Jackson behind the bench come October should the Heat lose this series.

      • daniel10017 - Jun 18, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        I meant to say not enough mental make-up

    • southernbrother - Jun 18, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      That’s the difference between Miami and San Antonio. The heat rely on one play getting hot, or a great individual effort from Lebron. The Spurs, despite 3 premier players are build on the concept of TEAM. They execute as a team, move the ball unselfishly for the best shots and make things happen as part of Pop’s game plan.

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 18, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    PJ theme song of the day:

    State of Love and Trust

  3. hehateme2 - Jun 18, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    It’s been a good series, wild swings in both directions. Let’s see if Green and others can keep playing above their heads now that it has returned to the Heats house.

    The Spurs have been classy…. unlike the trolls here.

  4. thememyselfandiguy - Jun 18, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    i expect the heat to win both games by a 10+ margin. they are far better then the spurs and can easily beat them whenever they want. they make it just look close to get tv ratings up, to get people speak about the nba around the world and getting 2 more homegames. it all about the money… and player value.

    • robones - Jun 18, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      You know, I would have given the NBA, Owner’s and Players the benefit of doubt about games being in essence fixed but its almost obvious in this series. Can anyone explain why the Bird Man has not played for the Heat in this series? He was such an incredible weapon against the Pacers an arguably a tougher series. Spo is now considering bringing him back for game 6?? Really???

      If you go back to January and through the playoffs, you know the Heat play incredible following a loss. There is no doubt we will be getting the best out of the Heat, specially at home. This is going to 7 games folks.

    • azarkhan - Jun 18, 2013 at 9:53 AM

      Exactly right! They did the same thing with the Pacers who they easily could have beaten in 4 games. Those Heat players, one eye on the floor and one on the television ratings! Hey, I even heard that Wade is angling for a job at ABC after he retires.

    • bengzki - Jun 18, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      You can just really see it, the way the heat play when they want to win, particularly LeBron and DWade, I’m a heat fan but it just irritates me that it is happening.

      Another thing that I’d noticed is the way both teams substitutes their reserves so early in the 4th when it is still around 5-6 minutes and the lead is only 10 or something, that is just so early for a garbage time.

      Maybe the birdman is the only one who can’t accept this fact that’s why he is being benched because if you’re a fan of him, you know he is just pure hustle.

      I have no doubt the Heat will win the Game 6, but I don’t know if it will be a blowout because it only makes this series more doubtful.

      As what the odds said, real game would be game 7.

    • iknowzeroaboutsports - Jun 18, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      I must me buying my dope from the wrong people.

      • iknowzeroaboutsports - Jun 18, 2013 at 2:35 PM

        I must be buying my dope from the wrong people.

    • southernbrother - Jun 18, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      I don’t see how you can say they are better than the Spurs. If they were, they’d be up 3-2 or would have already put this away. The Spurs are out hustling and out executing them throughout this series.

  5. canadianpride2 - Jun 18, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Joey Crawford is working game 6 with Mike Callahan & Ken Mauer .

    That is all.

  6. rayburns - Jun 18, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Want to add fuel to the NBA wants a Game 7 fire?

    Joey Crawford will be officiating tonight’s game. That’s right, the same Joey Crawford who once ejected Tim Duncan from a game while Duncan was sitting on the bench. The crime that Crawford found so objectionable? Duncan was laughing.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 18, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      LeBron has fouled out twice in the last 13 months. Both Joey Crawford games

      • bigbenh8tr - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        And you act like that’s some kind of travesty. Jorddan avgd over 3.5 fouls his first 3 nba championships. Quit the complaining

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:22 PM

        That’s not a complaint. He’s saying that Crawford will throw out anyone, even LeBron.

  7. steelers4385 - Jun 18, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Spolstra couldnt coach his way out of a phone booth. I despise the heat, but i will say it would be scary to think how much better they would be with even a B+ coach on sideline.

  8. caeser12 - Jun 18, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    Bosh: “Which one?”

    Wade: “The one over there in the White Pants.”

    Lebron: “Man, ya’ll trippin.”

    Miller: “I think I’m going to be sick.”

  9. iknowzeroaboutsports - Jun 18, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    “Wade has been more than half a second late plenty.”

    Probably not. A half a second late is plenty late enough. Almost an eternity out there.

  10. jimeejohnson - Jun 18, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Manu Ginobili could be the X-factor. He knows how to win, even leading Argentina to victory over Team USA in the Olympics. That should not have happened, but Manu is some kind of winner, and a loyal San Antonio Spur. The finals are a lot more than the “big 3″! Of course, if those big 3 play well, the Spurs will have a tough time winning in Miami. This is what it’s all about: “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat”. Have a great game!

  11. omahakidw - Jun 18, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    Its over now unless LeBron decides to just drive, but at this point its all over !!!

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