The Miami Heat find themselves in a dangerous, albeit familiar, position tonight. Do or Die. Backs against the wall. On the brink of elimination. Pick a cliché, and call it what you like, but this team is one loss away from their second disappointment in three seasons and the avalanche of criticism and scrutiny that will accompany it.
However, this isn’t the first time the Heat have found themselves backed into a corner. By this point, everyone knows about the Heat’s resiliency following a loss They’ve won twelve straight games following a loss; all by double digits. It’s a streak so remarkable and difficult to rationalize that even Vegas was slow to the take. Tonight, they’ve adjusted. The Heat opened as a seven point favorite. It has since pulled back to 6.5 in most online books as the action has gone more heavily the Spurs direction.
So can the Heat force a magical Game Seven and make this a series for the ages? Or can the Spurs buck the recent trend of trading games and catapult Coach Pop and Timmy Duncan to their fifth NBA title (and Danny Green into the category of most unlikely NBA Finals MVP in history??)
Let’s take a look at tonight’s Game Six.
San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat -6.5 (Total: 188)
It is tempting to take the Spurs. Seven points is a lot in a series between two teams as evenly matched as these two appear to be. However, it is also impossible to ignore the bizarre piranha-like intensity the Heat are able to summon on the defensive end following a loss. They did it in Game Four against the Spurs. They did it in Game Seven against the Pacers. Heck, dating back to last year, they did it in games six and seven against the Celtics in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. They simply possess a will to win and resiliency that is difficult to quantify.
The Heat also returns home tonight, which generally means a boost to role player productivity. That should mean a slight edge for Mike Miller, Ray Allen, and perhaps even a Birdman sighting or Shane Battier contributing.
I know five games (or even an entire playoffs at this point) is a good sample size to say Danny Green’s performance is no fluke. However, I don’t see him hitting 6 of 7 or even 5 of 8 from three point range. At some point, there will be a regression to the norm. He is an excellent and lethal shooter. He is not, however, a 65% shooter from distance for the simple reason that no player in the HISTORY of the NBA is. He has shot 50% on CONTESTED three-pointers in this series. I think he will see next to nothing BUT contested looks tonight.
I am going to keep riding history and the trend and go against the popular money for the second straight time in this series. Give me the Heat making an impressive stand at home and setting up the sweetest words in professional sports… Game Seven.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -6.5