Role players are keys to victory

Brian Stone

With game seven coming tonight, both the Spurs and Heat are looking for ways to eliminate the other team as quickly and efficiently as possible. Certain players for both sides need to step up in order to be declared NBA Champions.

Tim Duncan and LeBron James can’t do it by themselves. Each player had monster performances during Game 6 and showed why both are future hall-of-famers. Duncan took hold of the game early, scoring 12 points in the first quarter. However, Duncan tired down the stretch and was forced to the bench as James seized control. LeBron had 16 fourth quarter points and powered the younger, faster Miami squad past the grizzled, San Antonio unit. For Game 7, each team has keys to winning the NBA title.

For the Heat, the key is its perimeter shooters. In Game 6, Miami guards Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen combined for 29 points. Allen didn’t shoot particularly well, only hitting 38 percent of his field goals and only 33 percent from three. The only three-point attempt made from Allen was a big one though, hitting a game-tying corner three with only five seconds remaining in regulation. Chalmers tends to have games like this where he steps up and adds needed scoring in critical situations, and needs to continue his streaky shooting in order for Miami to remain champions. We’ve seen what Miami will get from Dwyane Wade in Game 7, and it most likely will not be the Superman-like performance that the Heat got in Game 4.

On the other side of the court, Manu Ginobili has been mostly awful for San Antonio this series. Ginobili showed flashes of his younger self in Game 5, scoring 24 points and adding 10 assists. But during Game 6, Manu turned back into a pumpkin, finishing the contest with almost as many turnovers (eight) as points (nine).  Without the significant contributions from Danny Green or Gary Neal, the Spurs showed their advanced age during the end of Game 6, tiring out and letting Miami grab rebounds that eventually led to its demise. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich needs to spread minutes around in order to keep its stars fresh. Duncan’s aging knees can’t withstand another 45-minute performance. Role players such as Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair might have to step in and take some minutes from Duncan at the center position when Duncan goes to the bench.

Ultimately, the Heat and Spurs cannot rely on its superstars to win the game.  It is called a basketball team for a reason, and other players will have to step up and bring their A-game if they want a victory for their team.