1) Epic. No shoe, no headband. No quit. Epic. Let it fly.
2) I don't know if Miami is going to win Game 7 or lose Game 7. And I'm out of my element - I'm watching the games in a small beach town in Mexico, on a foreign tv, trying to be quiet so other people in my family on vacation with us can sleep, but also having my brother there - and he is, if possible, even a bigger Walter Ray Allen fan than I am. So I can't really remember the sequence of plays like I normally can - sadly, it's my one true skill, I can recall every possession of a basketball game, not just the outcome of the play, but all the movements of all ten guys on the court, plus the benches, on every possession. Remember that Udonis Haslem defensive rebound in the third quarter of a February game in Detroit? I do. But the one thing I will always remember is the Heat being down to its last chance, King James James missing a three to tie it, Chris Bosh, of all people, rising above the crowd, grabbing the ball in traffic, and flipping it out on the baseline to Ray Allen, who was already backing his way up to the three point line. Ray, like I've seen him do a million times, stopped in the perfect spot - well behind the line, but in front of the sidelines, rose up with a guy in his chest, and drilled it. Several things about the play were fiasco-like. First of all, Greg Popovich subbed out Duncan as the Spurs were shooting the free throws, clearly to try to match up with Bosh on the perimeter to guard against a game tying three. But that doesn't make any sense - why can't Duncan match up with Bosh on the perimeter? It's not like they are going to run a screen for Bosh, something intricate for Duncan to deal with. Bosh is going to stand in one spot behind the arc, and maybe KJ throws it to him, maybe not. Why can't Duncan stand next to him out there? Maybe Bosh doesn't get that rebound if Duncan is still in there - that's not playing the result, the premise that Duncan can't take a triple away from Bosh as a spot-up shooter for one possession doesn't make any sense. Two, the Spurs probably called a timeout after the ball went through, and they didn't have any timeouts left, so it should have a technical free throw, because Coach Pop clearly ran on to the court screaming "you can't call that!!!" Oops. Third, the refs went and reviewed the triple, even though Ray was 3 or 4 inches behind the line and the ref, I believe it was Mike Callaghan, was in perfect position looking right at it. So the Spurs got a free timeout to draw up a last set - again, they didn't have any left. That's an abomination - you have to be better at your job than that. (Editor's note: the refs also let the Spurs sub during the review of the triple - that's against the rules. Bizarre - they blow a procedural rule in the waning moments of a Finals elimination game?) But in the midst of all that, all that mess, was Ray's perfect stroke. He says that the only way to prepare for situations like that is to practice them, over and over and over, until it becomes automatic, until it becomes a reflex. There is no thought, there is only quiet, cold, perfect efficiency. Being a basketball fan is about moments, right? If you say you love basketball, that's what you mean, right? You love the moments. I've loved Ray Allen since he enrolled at the University of Connecticut many (many) years ago. To have that moment with him? And to share it not only with M.Minutos, but also my brother, who has loved Ray right along with me? Never forget it. Never forget you, forever, Ray. Love you, forever, Ray...
3) Most embarrassing thing ever: when KJ James made a little push shot off a drive-and-jam-the-ball-in-KJ's-stomach-from-two-feet-away play by Wade, the Heat went up 1 with 1:42 in overtime. As I said, this never happens to me: but I didn't know the score. I thought we were down one. Remember Russell Westbrook in the Finals last year when he lost track of time and score and committed a horrific foul to end one of the games (I think Game 4)? That was me tonight. And, by the way, yes, Mexican tv shows the score, plus Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy are calling the game, so at any moment I could have glanced at the bottom of the screen and realized I was wrong. But there were like 5 possessions, including the first block by Bosh on Parker's jumper, and the Danny Green foul on James that wasn't called and the out of bounds got reversed (again, the other worst use of replay - refs obviously would have called a foul on Green off the review if allowed to by rule) where I thought we were down one. Didn't realize we were up one until the timeout just before Wade jacked the bad jumper from the top off a dead possession. And I wasn't even drinking from the beach side shack/bar!
4) How did the Heat win the game? I thought KJ was stagnant-y much of the night. He fought and fought and fought, and dragged the Heat back into the game in the fourth quarter, and made a huge three when it was needed. He also took Tony Parker much of the night, and helped harass him into a 6-23. But at the same time, Tim Duncan was scoring 25 first half points, Wade was limping around the court, there was one third quarter stretch where Wade and James got knocked down on back-to-back drives while the Spurs shot 4 free throws on the other end without shooting the ball, and worst of all, Miami could not get a loose ball. Every time the ball squirted loose, or went up on the glass, it felt like Mike Miller got his hands on it, only to be steamrolled to the court by Duncan, or Diaw, or Leonard, and the Spurs would pounce on it. You know how many loose balls it felt like the Heat got? Just one. When the Spurs got a defensive rebound down one with 10 seconds to go, Kawhi Leonard started to pass the ball, no one looked at him, he walked like Chris Webber in the 1990-whatever NCAA championship game, dribbled, found Ginobili, Manu dribbled to the three point line, picked up his dribble, tucked the ball under his arm like a running back, lowered his head, couldn't find anyone to run into, kept running like three more steps, making about 6 total, Ray Allen reached in, stripped the ball loose, it caromed first off Dwyane Wade, then back to Ray, standing just a couple of inches in front of the baseline. Spurs fouled, two Ray free throws dead-middle, Chris Bosh fed Danny Green a Spalding sandwich, and we all started getting ready for Juego 7. That stripped ball could have gone anywhere - to a Spur for an open shot, off Wade out of bounds, Ray could have been standing out of bounds when he caught it. It was the one loose ball we caught a break on all night. More importantly: if Ray doesn't strip Manu, when would he have stopped running? It didn't look like he was going to shoot, he was clearly body-hunting to try to get to the line. "Travelling" had come and gone about 4 steps before he got to Ray. Was he just going to run over the baseline, hammer a photographer, and throw the ball at the back of the backboard? Maybe get to the baseline, turn around, and just run back to the other end of the court? Remaining options were unclear, getting stripped might have actually been the best one.
5) Another thing that happens when you are watching the game out of your element: what actually did happen to KJ's headband? I assume it was a protest to the accumulation of shots he took at the rim without getting a call - also, tacking on the defensive rebound he got in overtime when Kawhi Leonard trucked him to the floor, and the ref just looked at KJ like, "get up and dribble." Not sure I've ever seen that play no called before. But I never saw it come off, I wasn't really listening to Breen and Van Gundy, and by the time M.Minutos pointed it out to me, the moment was gone. Did it get knocked off and he left it off? Did he take it off himself? Was he trying to one up Mike Mil-lar who started the fourth quarter comeback by making a triple in one shoe (shades of Mike Bibby)? Is he wearing it for Juego 7? I haven't read anything about the game yet. I'm sure we're in for 2 days of headband talk. That should be exciting.
6) One of the people in Mexico with us is my 6 year old niece. She's supercool, but she comes up to me this evening and says, "I'm bored." I tried to remember the saying about being bored, but all I could come up with is, "there is no such thing as 'boring;' there are only boring people being bored in, ummm, I guess, boring situations? Or something?" My sister-in-law confirmed that that probably isn't the actual saying, and, also, forbade my niece from talking to me for the rest of the week.
If we steal this title, boy...If we steal this title... If you need me before Thursday, I definitely won't be bored: headband talk. See you Thursday!