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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Don't let anyone out there kid you - there were plenty of folks to blame for the fact that the San Antonio Spurs gagged up an opportunity last night to capture their fifth NBA championship since 1999.

No doubt at the head of the class was crusty Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich ... and it would have been nice to have gotten a real explanation as to why Tim Duncan (30 points and 17 rebounds) was not on the floor for a couple of huge late fourth-quarter defensive stands and why Tony Parker wasn't part of the offensive action in the waning seconds of overtime in that wild 103-100 Miami Heat in a stay-alive Game 6 of this year's NBA Finals.

Let's just say "Pops"is a weasel for not "manning up"and admitting he blew it late, but maybe this is simply a dose of karma after the way he treats the media that normally bows at his every on-court decision.

Want to blame the Spurs players themselves?

Go right ahead because the fact of the matter is San Antonio not only blew a five-point lead with less than 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter but then failed to register a single point in the final 2:42 of the extra session and San Ant's final few possessions in the overtime period included the following:

Four missed shots from the floor - including that Danny Green corner triple at the buzzer that accurately should not have been called a foul on Miami's Chris Bosh - a pair of Manu Ginobili turnovers and a key 24-second violation on Parker.

Think about it for just a moment:

If just one of those final seven Spurs possessions had translated into points (obviously, a trifecta was needed at the very end) then this could have been a much different story and those yellow-clad arenasecurity guards could have roped off the court and that shiny Larry O'Brien Trophy could have been wheeled out to half-court for a Spurs' coronation.

But it was not to be and so here sits the Spurs after that debilitating loss that also featured three missed free throws in the team's final six foul-shot tries (shame, shame on Kawhi Leonard, Ginobili and Parker for each "splitting"their FT tries late) with the knowledge that if they don't win a Game 7 tomorrow night in South Beach the sports world will always be there to remind them of the 2011 Texas Rangers, the 1986 Boston Red Sox and the 2007 New England Patriots - just three other pro sports teams that come to mind that had titles in their grasp and blew it!

Okay, so maybe you wish to heap some major praise on Miami's LeBron James (32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) who - as ABC game analyst Jeff Van Gundy accurately stated - was "rather pedestrian"for the first three quarters of this game when San Antonio built up a 75-65 lead while heading into the fourth quarter.

James - with or without his much-discussed headband - was a fourth-quarter beast but did commit a pair of sloppy/tired turnovers that looked like it would finish off the Heat once and for all but than "The King"drained a triple and in the most-discussed play of these NBA Finals there was Bosh snagging an offensive rebound and flicking it out to Ray Allen for a game-tying triple with 5.2 seconds left.

Hey, we won't crucify the Spurs for not fouling there but Duncan in the game probably snares that final board, not Bosh!

In short, James played a monster final 17 minutes but wasn't great beforehand while sidekick Dwayne Wade was MIA for much of this game (didn't play in the fourth quarter till 3:25 remained and that couldn't have been an easy call for head coach Erik Spoelstra) and wound up finishing with 14 points on just 6-of-15 FG shooting.

Still, here's three big - and underrated - reasons why the Heat wound up forcing a Game 7 in this series and, trust, us the ESPN and NBA TV shows didn't give these factors much of a mention:
First, Miami stonewalled the Spurs' three-point shooters and held San Antonio to just 5-of-18 shooting overall from beyond the arc with Green netting just one trifecta;

Secondly, the Heat "trusted"PG Mario Chalmers early and his 7-of-11 FG night good for 20 points really kept Miami in this game - consider that James, Wade and Bosh simply weren't on their offensive games and yet San Antonio never did quite run away and hide;
Final underrated point:

The Spurs scored 60 "points in the paint"- Miami scored just 36 points in the paint - but the Heat never let that get to 'em and they followed Spoelstra's orders and played their best defensive quarter in these playoffs in the fourth quarter and they held Duncan without a single field goal in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Okay, our Jim Sez Game 7 Preview is on tap in tomorrow's column but let's keep it comin' at you NBA Finals style with a check of some key pointspread stats/figures:

San Antonio exited Game 6 at 14-6 ATS (against the spread) overall this playoff season for a .700 winning rate and note the Spurs now have covered nine of their last 12 post-season games in all while dating back to Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinal Round against Golden State.
Also, the Spurs finished the home portion of the playoffs at 6-4 against the odds while they now sport an 8-2 ATS mark on the post-season road while heading into Thursday's Game 7 showdown.

And know this: Despite the gut-wrenching SU (straight-up) loss in Game 6, San Antonio is still a perfect 4-and-oh spreadwise this playoff season in "closeout games"with previous wins/covers against the Los Angeles Lakers (a four-game sweep), the Golden State Warriors (a six-game series win) and the Memphis Grizzlies (another four-game sweep) and note all three of these games plus Tuesday's tilt against Miami were played on the road!

On the flip side, Miami exited Game 6 of these NBA Finals at a dead-even but vig-losing 11-11 versus the vig this post-season for a .500 winning rate (but down $110 based on $100 per-game wagers) and note the Heat's 5-7 against the odds at home during these playoffs and it already finished 6-4 ATS away.
Now, here's how the NBA Finals series between the Spurs-Heat has gone so far (note the home team in CAPS):







San Antonio

+ 5





- 6.5

San Antonio




- 2





- 1










- 7

San Antonio

103-100 (ot)

And now hear this ...Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will cap off this hoops season with an NBA Finals Game 7 Side & Totals Winners when you check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time on game-day afternoon - so don't miss out! Also, keep banging out loads of Major-League Baseball Winners too each/every day. Won 4 of last 5 underdog releases.

Here's the NBA Playoffs Pointspread Breakdown Chart as we head into the final game of this 2012-13 season:

Golden State 9 3 0 .750
Memphis 11 4 0 .733
SAN ANTONIO 14 6 0 .700
Indiana 12 7 0 .631
Boston 3 3 0 .500
Houston 3 3 0 .500
Chicago 6 6 0 .500
MIAMI 11 11 0 .500
Brooklyn 3 4 0 .429
New York 5 7 0 .417
Atlanta 2 4 0 .333
Oklahoma City 3 8 0 .273
Milwaukee 1 3 0 .250
LA Clippers 1 5 0 .167
LA Lakers 0 4 0 .000
Denver 0 6 0 .000


And you thought all the NBA action was on the court in Miami!

The NBA Draft - on tap for next Thursday, June 27th - has a boatload of intrigue these days from word than Kansas G Ben McLemore has been anything but in tip-top physical shape for recent workouts in both Phoenix and Orlando and so there's some in-the-know folks who believe he could actually fall out of the top five.

We say that won't happen (just like we told you last week that Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers would not wind up as the next sideline boss of the Los Angeles Clippers!) but it could be that McLemore could now be passed by the Orlando Magic with the second overall pick and then what would the Washington Wizards do at pick #3 - would it be McLemore or Georgetown stud Otto Porter? Hmmm ...

Meanwhile, there's growing speculation that Michigan G Trey Burke also will drop a couple (or a few) spots in this draft as Syracuse PG Michael Carter-Williams apparently has passed him by on most draft boards and there's a real buzz that Carter-Williams will get snapped up in the top five.

What's with Syracuse players "getting hot"right before the draft? Remember last year that Dion Waiters really climbed the draft charts late and then wound up starring with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Meanwhile, two other Big 10 players that have piqued our interest are Burke's former backcourt partner at Michigan - that's Tim Hardaway, Jr. - and Ohio State lefty forward Deshaun Thomas.

The latter might slip out of Round I but count us among the folks who believe he could be a "good get"for the Spurs with pick #28 while Hardaway, Jr. should go in the first 20-to-22 picks with the Utah Jazz at pick #21 a solid landing spot.

One name that's often mentioned as a second-round pick that could generate Draft Day momentum and go in Round I is Virginia Tech scoring stud Erick Green who averaged 25 ppg last year for the Hokies. Green - who shot 61-of-157 from beyond the three-point stripe last year (that's a 38.9 accuracy rate) -- could be enticing to the Los Angeles Clippers at pick #25. Stay tuned.

NOTE: Catch our NBA Finals Game 7 ultra-comprehensive preview in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.

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