Revisiting the Miami Heat Conspiracy Theory after Game 6
So many things to talk about in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Ray Allen’s game-saving 3-pointer. Chris Bosh’s clutch rebound on that play. Manu Ginobili laying an egg. Tony Parker going 6 for 23. Tim Duncan being vintage Tim Duncan with 30 and 17. Kawhi Leonard posterizing Mike Miller. Miller making a crucial 3-pointer without one of his shoes. LeBron’s polarizing fourth quarter – either he was absolutely incredible or he almost gave away a title.
One thing stood out to me more than anything, though: the refs made the Heat earn it.
SpreeGoogs detailed the conspiracy theory that the NBA was fixing Miami games through its refs when they were on their 27-game winning streak earlier this season. But I don’t think anyone can claim that was the case on Tuesday night.
Every time the Heat went to the basket, there was Duncan, or Leonard, or Boris Diaw, or Tiago Splitter, all challenging and altering shots masterfully. I thought there was going to be a whistle every time. Most of the time, there wasn’t.
Perfect example was the breakaway layup LeBron had in the final minute of overtime (video above). Emphasis on had. All of a sudden Danny Green played the ball perfectly, jarred it out of James’ hands while falling down and causing the ball to go off LeBron’s fingertips out of bounds. James raced to the sidelines complaining, but watching the tape over and over as the review was underway, everyone realized the officials had made a good no-call.
h/t CJ Fogler
The numbers back it up. San Antonio was whistled for 21 fouls, Miami 26. San Antonio shot 28 free throws, Miami 21. And this is despite the fact that Joey Crawford was reffing Game 6, he with the personal vendetta against Duncan.
So does this mean that the NBA is ok with the Heat losing the Finals? I think it has to be in this instance, and that’s because San Antonio is the one team that David Stern would be ok with winning the title besides Miami. They’re a darling, underdog small market team going against the evil empire. Duncan is going after a fifth ring. Parker is the best point guard in the world. Ginobili is the ultimate wild card. Gregg Popovich is a mad scientist totally taking the Heat out of their element. It’s a team that American can root for, and it might be their last shot at the title given Duncan’s age (but hell, we’ve been saying that for three years now and he’s still so damn good every year).
And think about the intrigue if the Heat do lose. Imagine the overwhelming conversation about LeBron’s legacy. The questions on whether Dwyane Wade and Bosh are good enough wingmen for LeBron to win another championship. The possibility of Pat Riley deciding he needs to just take care of business and get back on the bench in place of Erik Spoelstra. The intrigue surrounding the Heat, the league’s premiere franchise, heading into next season would be palpable. That’s good for the NBA.
But all that is speculation for now. We have a Game 7 to play. In the words of Bart Scott, can’t wait.