The Miami Heat pretty much have to win game 7, right?
How else do you follow the epic game 6 that happened? The story writes itself. The best player in the world and the most prolific shooter in NBA history combined to lead the Miami Heat to an amazing comeback. The San Antonio Spurs choked away the game by failing to make free throws and get rebounds. During the postgame show, even Magic Johnson said that it was one of the 2 or 3 greatest games he's ever seen in his 30-year career. However, the significance of all this fades away if San Antonio wins game 7.
Some of the most iconic games in sports history have come in the penultimate game of a series, with the final game being a mere afterthought as the winners completed their historic achievement. The Billy Buckner game was game 6 of the 1986 World Series and cemented the Curse of the Bambino even though there was still a game 7 to be played. The Bloody Sock game also came during a game 6, with game 7 of the 2004 ACLS at Yankee Stadium turning out to be quite anticlimactic. The Catch came during the 81-82 NFC Championship game, followed by San Francisco building a record 20-0 halftime lead in the ensuing Super Bowl.
"If you lose this game, you'll take it to your fcking graves." That, supposedly, is what Herb Brooks said going into the third period of the gold medal game during the 1980 Olympics, one game after the Miracle on Ice. It's not fair to compare the NBA finals to the top sports moment of the 20th century, but who knows if that's the level of motivation that the Miami Heat players have right now.
So is there a narrative where San Antonio prevails? Well, when two top athletes/teams face off against each other and go the distance, people often bring up Ali-Frazier and the Fight of the Century at MSG. Indeed, the huge back and forth runs that both teams have been on during this series have been described as haymakers. But Ali and Frazier were both dominant forces at the peak of their powers when they faced off. San Antonio is an old team that has had questions of retirement hovering around them. Miami, despite certain flaws, was built to be the most dominant force in the NBA. This isn't Muhammad Ali - Joe Frazier, folks. This is Rocky Balboa - Ivan Drago. The Spurs will have to channel their inner Rocky to win.
They have to play the training montage in their locker room. "No pain! No pain!"
They have to remind themselves. The Miami Heat killed Apollo Creed.