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Which role player is going to step up and be the Game 7 hero?

Jun 20, 2013, 1:33 PM EDT

Danny Green ,Mike Miller AP

Remember back to the last Game 7 of the NBA Finals: 2010, Celtics at Lakers. Kobe Bryant was tight. Paul Pierce was tight. The game was played fairly cautiously.

Who were the two best players on the court? Probably Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) and Rasheed Wallace. The two guys hardwired not to feel human pressure.

LeBron James and Tim Duncan will do their part, but in any Game 7 (and any one-game championship like the Super Bowl) there is always a role player who steps up and has a career day. That is the guy who ends up swinging Game 7 with a monster play or just a hot hand (if you believe such a thing exists).

So who is it going to be Thursday night? Here are a few options.

Mike Miller (Heat). As evidence, I point to Game 5 against the Thunder last NBA Finals — 23 points, 7-of-8 from three to help close out the series win for the Heat at home. Three point shooters can find space and fill it up for one game, and we know Miller can be that guy.

Danny Green (Spurs). This guy was in the series MVP discussion after five games as he set the record for most three pointers made in an NBA Finals (25). Then in Game 6 the Heat decided maybe they shouldn’t sag off him so much to jump passing lanes and he couldn’t find a rhythm. If he gets a little room and gets going again in Game 7 it’s a great sign for the Spurs (because it also means Tony Parker is getting in the lane and creating shots for him).

Mario Chalmers (Heat). This guy has taken and made the big shot since college, when a key three helped Kansas win a national title. Chalmers reminds me of Derek Fisher in the sense he has unwavering belief in his ability to hit the next shot and that kind of immunity to pressure pays off in games of this magnitude.

Kawhi Leonard (Spurs). The stars for the Spurs — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker — had tired legs by the end of Game 6, leading to questions about how they bounce back for Game 7 48 hours later. If you’re looking at Spurs with fresh young legs who have had a good series already Leonard is your guy. He’s going to get time on LeBron James defensively, and that will be key, but he’s had a good offensive series and has hit threes as well. This could be a big day for the young future star of the Spurs.

  1. shockexchange - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    The hero of Game 7 will be “The LeBron Rules … Keys to Stopping LeBron James.”

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      LeBron will Rule and not let anyone take that BIG gold trophy from him.

    • hickoryhigh - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      I hate to make it personal, but dude, you are such a db. Quit talking about your stupid manifesto on how to stop LeBron. Nobody cares what you think about basketball strategy. And quit referring to yourself in the 3rd person when you post. OK, I feel better now.

  2. true15 - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    I see now that it is really time for GINOBILI to retire, but who ever be able to take his place or replace his style of play? james harden is already lock down in houston.

  3. jzone954 - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    There going to triple lebron and collapse on him when he drives. But if anyone can get through it. It s him

    • bougin89 - Jun 20, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      Having Boris Diaw stand 6 feet away from Lebron and having help defenders clog the paint is NOT triple teaming him. Haven’t you every done a “shell drill” in basketball? It’s the same concept except you sag off of Lebron(daring him to shoot a jumper) when he has the ball.

  4. pmx8411 - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM


  5. andyhr17 - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    As long as the role player to step up is not a referee. Hoping for a game 7 reffed like game 6 where they let both teams play and didn’t decide the outcome of the game.

    I’d also be happy if the refs called a bunch of fouls on LeBron and decided the game that way, though.

  6. reesesteel23 - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Joel Anthony!!

  7. cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:02 PM


  8. money2long - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:07 PM

  9. cwilson6843 - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    You’re not welcome here cantonbound

  10. hickoryhigh - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM


  11. dolphindubs - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Rio needs to take the role of Wade and attack the basket! When Rio is attacking and getting in the paint, the Heat hardly EVER lose

  12. runthepicketfence - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Good question – the key is the Spurs bench. Maybe T-Mac for Manu tonight? Seriously though, it can’t get any worse than what Manu did in game 6. Tony Parker has to find ways to break down the defense and Danny Green needs to make it rain. None of this 0-3 crap again.

    I get too emotional watching these games. I may have to sit it out to keep my sanity later this evening.

  13. Alex Till - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Cole & Neal for each team.

  14. asimonetti88 - Jun 20, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Sounds like T-Mac time.

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