A lot of people are throwing in the towel on San Antonio, claiming that the aging Spurs will be too demoralized after letting a sure win turn into an overtime loss to be able to beat the reigning MVP on his home court in Game 7. The icing on the cake of that argument is that the road team has not won a Game 7 since 1978 (which was before the current 2-3-2 series set up).
My response to that argument is – take a look at 1978. Even better, take a good look at the prior Game 7 in 1974.
Playing on the Road After a Demoralizing Game 6 Loss
In 1974, the NBA’s best regular season team won a double-overtime thriller when a triple-teamed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hit a skyhook at the buzzer.
The Celtics now had to play Game 7 in Milwaukee against the reigning MVP. Sound familiar?
Far from rolling over, they got up and kicked some butt. Abdul-Jabbar was held scoreless for all of the second quarter and half of the third, as the Celtics defense shut down Milwaukee and the Celtics cruised to a 15-point victory (sitting their starters for the last few minutes).
The Fat Lady Likes Defense
In 1978, the Seattle SuperSonics jumped out to a 3-2 lead over the Washington Bullets, prompting Bullet Coach Dick Motta’s famous “the opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings” quote. The Bullets won with defense. Trouncing the Sonics 117-82 in Game 6 in Washington and then winning Game 7 105-99 in Seattle. Sonics rookie point guard (and future Hall of Famer) Dennis Johnson averaged 16.1 points per game in the playoffs that year, but in Game 6 and 7 the Bullets held him to a combined 13 points total.
- Can you really imagine a Coach Popovich team rolling over? Especially their Big 3 – Ginobli, Parker and Duncan?
- Defense wins championships. I’m still amazed that 6-9 Dave Cowens was able to guard Kareem, but as a team they contained him in Game 7 and won. The Spurs have held their opponent under 100 in regulation in 15 of their 20 playoff games this year.
- Pride. This is a veteran team and much like the Celtics who had Celtic Pride in their corner, the Spurs know they have a legacy to live up to.
- Tony Parker. He’s French and ladies (fat or not) dig that sort of thing so he has the Fat Lady on his side. I bet even Sean Elliott, who has become a recent authority on the French, agrees with that.