The NBA's Eastern Conference Finals game 7 is upon us. This is the penultimate match-up for this year’s NBA playoffs, and has proved already to be one of the most compelling series. Whomever wins will face the old guard of the championship in this era of the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, that much is plain and clear. However, the pressure of the fixture tonight lies on many broad shoulders, none more heavily than those of the Miami Heat’s big 3: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.
LeBron James has performed to standard excellence this series, averaging out at about 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh however, who have diminished stats, are both listed as “day to day” on the injury list, and have shrunk the confidence of Coach Erik Spoelstra, who is taking them off the floor in the late game stretch. Needless to say, LeBron James has carried his team in years past, but not to an NBA trophy.
The Pacers have no shortage of trepidations either, but they have already exceeding their expectations and earned the respect of the NBA community and its fans around the world. The big man combo of Paul George and Roy Hibbert proved to be surprising steel for the post season front court, but the rest of team has been shown to live and die by the jump shot. To make matters worse, ESPN is currently focusing half of their coverage of this game to the politically incorrect comments made by Roy Hibbert in game 6’s post-game interview. Indeed, in the post Collins-coming-out NBA-and the modern era in general- making a “no homo” joke on camera is worthy of all the off-court scrutiny they can possibly manage. On court however, this slip of the tongue (and the other one, when he referred to the media as “motherf*ckers”) will likely fade into background noise.
If the incumbent champion Miami Heat want a shot at the series, their stars and role players must succeed tonight, regardless of the success of LeBron alone. If they do not, in losing they will have disappointed their expectations formed by their record-setting season, their intention to collect multiple championships, and form a legacy together. The wounds created by “The Decision” will be ripped open, and the Heat’s detractors will be vindicated in spades. This scenario is unlikely however, Miami are the home team, and among all post season games sevens, host teams have 16-2 advantage. Not to mention, they are the same Miami Heat that got wins for fun all year.
Game 7 will be decided at 8:30 p.m. on TNT.
Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET