There was a feeling that even with a one-game, winner-takes-the-title scenario, the Miami Heat were firmly in the driver’s seat.
In this case, the feeling was right.
Yes, it went down to the wire. Yes, the Spurs never were totally out of it.
But by the same token, the Heat never really looked in danger of losing it.
Blame it on Game 6.
In a series where the previous game has had absolutely no carry over to the next, the hangover from Game 6 in the deciding game was palpable.
In Game 6 the San Antonio Spurs took the gut punch of all gut punches.
They owned a five-point lead with 28 seconds remaining and couldn’t close it out.
Hell, the trophy was out of the case and getting ready to be presented. No less a competitor than LeBron James himself admitted he was already lamenting 91/2 months of work down the drain.
And then it was gone. The Larry O’Brien Trophy was being re-crated and the Miami Heat had forced a Game 7.
The question on everyone’s mind was how would the Spurs come back from that?
The answer was surprisingly well. Just not well enough.
Early on the Spurs looked shaky but then so too did the Heat.
Both teams were sloppy with the ball. Both teams were missing the shots they were hitting with regularity through the first six games of the series.
In short, both teams looked like the moment was a little too big for them.
Things settled down for both teams in the second.
After that it was too much LeBron James, too much Dwyane Wade and perhaps the biggest surprise of all, too much Shane Battier.
Battier, until Game 6, had been a rumour for much of the series. His outside shooting, his only offer of substance when the Heat were on offence, had abandoned him for the most part.
He got it going a little in Game 6 hitting three of his four attempts from distance. But in Game 7 and with all the Heat scoring from a total of five players, Battier stepped up biggest when needed most.
He went 6-of-8 from beyond the arc to finish with 18 points. On a night where Chris Bosh, Mike Miller and Ray Allen were held scoreless, Battier filled a huge void.
RED HOT, THEN NOT
It was only two games ago in this series that Danny Green couldn’t miss.
As long as the Spurs could get the ball in his hands it seemed they were rewarded with points, more often than not three at a time.
But when the series shifted to Miami for Game 6, it was like Green’s ability to first, get open and second, sink shots, stayed behind in San Antonio.
But what is lost is the job Miami is doing on Green. Granted it took a while and a NBA Finals record for threes in a series before it happened, but finally the Heat are giving Green the respect he has earned and it has meant the end of those wide-open shots that he was knocking down with regularity earlier in the series.
Things I didn’t expect to see in a Game 7. Tim Duncan with a steal and an one-man fast break ending up in an uncontested dunk. Now that’s rare ... Dwane Casey wasn’t getting away from a bunch of media types on the same day as Game 7 of the NBA Finals without making a prediction about the big game. “Whoa, that’s a tough one,” Casey said. “I think Miami at home. It’s going to be huge to see how San Antonio comes out of that stupor. I don’t care what you say — when you’re standing on that podium with that trophy and all at once they take it away from you or you take it away from yourself — it’s hard. All I know is I want to be in that situation with the Raptors some day.” ... A very nice story lost in the shadows of a series dominated by two Big 3s and the unpredictable run Green was on earlier, is how vital Kawhi Leonard has been to the Spurs. Finally Bill Simmons made the point that Leonard, if he wasn’t already, would soon have to be considered the third member of San Antonio’s Big 3. Leonard played man-to-man shutdown defence on James for much of the series and still contributed at the offensive end of the floor. Oh and then there was his rebounding. No one was more productive in that department in this series. Leonard may not be storyline No. 1 of this series, but his emergence in just his second year in the league has been sensational ... For those that care about this sort of thing, James was indeed wearing the headband again in Game 7 after going most of the fourth quarter and overtime without it in Game 6.