MIAMI – The home team has won all but three of the 17 Game 7s in NBA Finals history, with the last road winner being Washington against Seattle in 1978.
“I don’t really care what it’s been like for anybody else at any time,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Wednesday’s practice. “All I know is we have had a hell of a year, and we have an opportunity to win a championship [Thursday] night. That’s all that matters.”
While only one player for the Heat as Game 7 experience in the Finals – Ray Allen lost with the Celtics to the Lakers in 2010 – the Spurs have three players that can boast that. Their Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili knocked off the Pistons in Game 7 to win the 2005 NBA Finals, with Duncan scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the deciding game and being named Finals MVP.
“Yeah, it will definitely help,” Parker said. “The experience of Game 7 in the Finals, it’s a great memory. We should be happy about that opportunity to try to make history. It’s a great challenge. We know we can beat them here. We just have to do it again. If you told me before the season that we’ll be 3-3 in the Finals against Miami, I think everybody on the team would sign up for it.”
Ginobili recalled Wednesday that the Spurs rebounded from a tough, close loss to the Pistons in Game 6 to win the title, but pointed out that they won Game 7 at home, and that it happened eight years ago.
After 12 hours to marinate on Tuesday night’s loss, he noted, “You feel a little better knowing we have another chance, that we can do so many things better and that we’re in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals. We’re still in a great situation.”
Ginobili added, “When you lose a world championship final or a game for a bronze [medal], you have no tomorrow. In this case, we do have another option, the last one, and we’ll try to bounce back.”
What’s it like playing in a Game 7 in the Finals?
“It’s unbelievable,” Ginobili said, recalling the 2005 Finals. “When you’re in it, you don’t get to enjoy it, really. There are so many things in your head – the pressure, the responsibility, the game plan – that you can’t really picture yourself from outside. But with time, it does sink in. And this situation where there’s no margin for error, it’s what we all live for. We’re all going to remember having lived this situation.”
Reserve guard Gary Neal said the 103-100 overtime loss in Game 6 “has no bearing” on Game 7, adding that, “nothing about Game 6 is relevant.” When asked about many outside observers writing off the Spurs in Thursday’s finale because of the fashion in which Tuesday’s game ended, Neal said he wasn’t aware of that.
“During times like this, during the playoffs, you don’t watch SportsCenter or anything like that,” he said. “That’s not our concern. The people in the locker room, the coaching staff and the players are all we’re worried about. Everybody believes in each other. We believe we have what it takes to get a Game 7 win. That’s the only thing we’re worried about. What it takes to get a Game 7 win. So that’s the only thing we’re worried about.”
Duncan said fatigue won’t be a factor for him in Game 7 despite playing 44-plus minutes in Game 6. The Spurs as a whole aren’t worn down physically, or emotionally, either, he added.
“We’re not tired in any way. There’s no being tired at this point,” Duncan said. “We’ve got one more game to win, and that’s all that matters.”
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