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Preview: Spurs at Heat

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

After losing a late lead in Game 6 in devastating fashion, the San Antonio Spurs attempt to become the first road team in 35 years to win Game 7 of the NBA Finals in Thursday’s decisive matchup with the Miami Heat. San Antonio had a five-point lead with 28.1 seconds left in regulation on Tuesday before Miami rallied to force overtime and eventually claim a 103-100 victory. The Heat haven’t won back-to-back games in four weeks.

Miami trailed by 13 points late in the third quarter of Game 6 and the home fans were scurrying to the exits when the Heat were behind by five points in the final half-minute. But Ray Allen drained the game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left and Miami outplayed San Antonio over the second half of overtime to keep alive its hopes of winning back-to-back titles. “It’s so hard. It’s the hardest thing,” forward LeBron James said Wednesday of repeating as champion. “I said last year was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – winning my first. Last year (doesn't) even come close to what we’ve gone through in this postseason and in these finals.” The 1978 Washington Bullets were the last team to win a road Game 7 in the NBA Finals, beating the Seattle SuperSonics.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, ABC

ABOUT THE SPURS: Veteran guard Manu Ginobili said after Game 6 that he couldn’t see how his team could recover from the demoralizing loss. The mental side will be an important factor in Game 7 as will bouncing back physically, especially for 37-year-old power forward Tim Duncan. The first half of Game 6 was vintage Duncan as he scored 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting, but the future Hall of Famer had just five after halftime. “There’s no being tired at this point,” Duncan said in his Wednesday media session. “We’ve got one more game to win, and that’s all that matters.” Forward Kawhi Leonard had a monster 22-point, 11-rebound performance in Game 6 but 3-point shooter Danny Green had his first poor game of the series, going 1-of-5 from behind the arc. Green has made an NBA Finals record 26 3-pointers.

ABOUT THE HEAT: James rebounded from a slow start to notch his fourth career NBA Finals triple-double with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. He scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and made a key 3-pointer in the late rally that was punctuated by Allen’s tying 3-pointer. The health of guard Dwyane Wade is a major concern after he injured his surgically repaired left knee in the first half of Game 6. Wade has been ineffective for much of the postseason due to an injured right knee. “There’s one game left,” Wade said Wednesday. “Whatever you have inside of you, you muster it up. So I’ll be fine.” Center Chris Bosh rejected Green’s tying 3-point attempt at the end of overtime and has posted four double-doubles in five games after underachieving for most of the postseason.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Miami is looking to become the fourth team to rally from a 3-2 deficit with two consecutive home victories. The others are the 1988 Los Angeles Lakers, the 1994 Houston Rockets and the 2010 Lakers.

2. Home teams have a 14-3 record in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

3. San Antonio is 4-0 in NBA Finals and only one of its previous series required a Game 7 – when the Spurs defeated the Detroit Pistons in 2005.

PREDICTION: Spurs 97, Heat 95

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130620/preview-spurs-at-heat