Thursday night’s game 4 of the NBA Finals is without a doubt a must win for the Miami Heat, who trail the San Antonio Spurs 2-1 in this championship round. The Heat won’t be eliminated if they lose tonight but a 3-1 deficit would be too much for them to overcome. They would have to beat the Spurs three games straight and that is a very tall task that I don’t believe the Heat are capable of getting done.
We've all heard about how the Heat haven’t lost two games in a row since early January, but what most people don’t realize is that the Spurs haven’t lost two games in a row, with the big 3 healthy, since early December … an even longer streak than the Heat.
So obviously beating the Spurs three games straight is highly unlikely. Speaking of the Spurs big 3 being healthy, the question of the day is how healthy is point guard Tony Parker? Parker suffered a strained hamstring in game 3. Parker left the game early after the injury, then returned to in the fourth quarter to play two minutes before resting for the rest of the game due to the blowout. Parker says that he'll play in game 4, but how healthy he is remains to be seen.
The Miami Heat, reigning NBA Champions, are looking to retain their crown.
The San Antonio Spurs, the benchmark of the NBA for so many years, want to get back the trophy for the first time since their dynasty appeared to have ended in 2007.
Welcome to the NBA Finals.
It is a finals matchup full of intrigue, full of individuals who are capable of winning a game on their own on any given night.
Here are some of the key battles that are sure to prove crucial in the eventual outcome of this series.
1. LeBron James vs Kawhi Leonard:
- The Spurs will prove just how much faith they have in the young Leonard by giving him the responsibility of containing the juggernaut that is LeBron James.
The Beginning of an era began when the Miami Heat finally ended the overall dominant play of the Indiana Pacers in the 7th game of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, turning the Pacers over 99-76.
Indiana put up a tremendous fight winning most of the quarters played in this series, but ultimately turnovers, bad timing and missed free-throws helped in their demise. In game 7, Miami executed consistent, strong willed, smothering and disciplined team defense that thwarted and eventually broke the spirit of the Indiana Pacers.
Except for a few glimpses during the series the Big Three, prior to game 7, was null and void, namely, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh . Through most of the series it was the Big One with Lebron James carrying the load of his Big Three partners and sometimes the bench. Wade was suspect to injury but Bosh was healthy for the most part.
The Pacers put up a good fight, but you can't stand in the way of greatness for long.
With their legacy on the line, the Heat responded in typical fashion, a 99-76 blowout victory, giving them the title that everybody expected them to retain at the start of the season.
Eastern Conference Champions.
We all know that LeBron James is one of the greatest players to ever step on a basketball court. He is the consensus greatest player in the game today. He’s a four time MVP and a one time NBA champion. None of this can be disputed.
Some even say that James is on the level of, if not better than, the great Michael Jordan as the best player to ever play the game. This is where I strongly disagree, for various reasons. Reasons I won’t explain today, that’s for another article.
But I will say that IF he is even close to Jordan then tonight’s game 7 matchup, between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, is where he can somewhat justify that ridiculous claim. James has to show up tonight, take the game over, and win at all costs.