Expert’s Corner: The Scoop on Game Seven

What are the keys to Game 7?

The breath-taking heroics and plot twists and turns made Game 6 into one of the greatest -- and instantly one of the most important -- games in NBA history. But after the defending champions valiantly came back to tie the series at 3-3 in overtime and force a Game 7, fans will be rewarded with one last clash of these incredible basketball titans. The winner of Game 7 wins the Championship.

NBA India’s Akshay Manwani and Karan Madhok look-ahead to identify the keys for each team to secure a victory in this all-important season finale. And when the game tips at 6:30 a.m. IST on Friday, you can watch it live on NBA LEAGUE PASS!

Karan Madhok
Writer, NBA India
What the Heat Must Do

LeBron James needs to be in attack mode – from the first tip. LeBron has looked passive and slightly underwhelming for large parts of this series, including the first three quarters of Game 6, before he switched into superhero mode in the fourth quarter and helped his team mount an incredible comeback. The stakes are too high in Game 7 for LeBron to save his aggression: he has to attack early and often to hurt the fatigued Spurs and raise the confidence level of his teammates.

The threes need to start falling: Around the talents of LeBron and Wade, the Heat do as good as job as any team to space the floor and help create perimeter shooting opportunities for their three-point threats. From Danny Green’s heroics earlier in this series to Ray Allen incredible shot in Game 6, the three-point shot has been a devastating weapon in the Finals. If the likes of Allen, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and co. can find accuracy from behind the line, a close game can be turned into a blowout in a matter of minutes.

The Heat are at their most potent offensively when they score in the run of play, with points off turnovers or quick defensive rebounds. The Heat played great defensively in fourth quarter and overtime of Game 6: they need to continue their defensive intensity to force more errors from Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and the rest of the Spurs, and get their superstars going early with easy transition baskets on the other end.

Rebounds win championships, and with just one game to go, Miami must win the rebound battle. This means more Chris Anderson and continued strong effort on the boards by Chris Bosh. In LeBron and Wade, they have two of the best swingman rebounders in the league too, and they must use their athleticism to out-work the Spurs on the boards.

At this point in his career, there is Good Dwyane Wade and Bad Dwyane Wade. Bad Wade forgets defensive assignments, slows down on the offensive end, and loses faith when his perimeter shot isn’t falling. Good Wade attacks the rim with aggression, gets to the free throw line, crashes the boards, and becomes a monster on the defensive end. If Good Wade can show up – the Wade that showed up in Games 4 and 5 of the series – then the Spurs will have an extra headache to deal with and Miami will go from being a great squad to a championship squad.
Akshay Manwani
Writer, NBA India
What the Spurs Must Do

Duncan must dominate - ‘Timmy’ turned back the clock in Game 6, pouring in 25 points in the first half on the hapless Heat. Offensively, Miami simply don’t have the players to defend him, but Duncan has also come up big on the boards, leading these Finals in offensive and defensive rebounding. Overall, Duncan is a plus-27 in 211 minutes in six games for the Spurs, which means that San Antonio are simply too good with him on the floor.

Diaw and Splitter over Manu: Ginobili is a minus-38 for San Antonio in over 160 minutes of action in the Finals. He alone has turned the ball over 18 times in this series, a stat the Spurs can ill afford in Game 7. Instead, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter should be given more playing time. Diaw troubled LeBron in Game 5 with his size, while Splitter’s presence alongside Duncan gives the Spurs a terrific size advantage in their frontcourt. Not surprisingly, all three combinations of San Antonio’s best five-man lineup in these Finals involve at least one of these two men.

More open looks for Danny Green: After going 25-for-38 from 3-point land through the first five games, Green went just 1-for-5 on Tuesday night. San Antonio need to give him a lot more open looks, possibly by running pick-and-rolls for Parker/Duncan and getting Green to sneak on the strong side of the floor so that he can punish the Heat for double teaming either player or by setting more multiple screens for him, with Green constantly cutting across the floor.

Defend, but smartly: So far, San Antonio have done a good job on the whole defensively, but they can be better. They must continue to clog the paint and dare LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh to beat them with their jump-shooting. Also, while double-teaming LeBron, the Spurs’ help defense must collapse on him, but not by leaving Mike Miller or Ray Allen open from behind the arc.

Parker must lead the way: There is no question that Tony Parker must have a big game for San Antonio if they are to win this series. He may have a bum hamstring, his tank may be empty after a long regular season and a hard fought six-game series of the 2013 Finals, but he must be aggressive. Even in Game 6 when he shot poorly, he showed the ability to come up big in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter. Barring LeBron, he has the ability to blow by every other player in Miami’s lineup and if he is hot in Game 7, the Spurs will have their fifth ring in 15 years.