The magic of Game 7




The Manila Times


GAME 7, if necessary. That’s a phrase we see too often in the NBA playoffs schedule. In the first round of the ongoing playoffs, Game 7 was not necessary at all. Nonetheless, Game 7 remains to be the pinnacle for hoops fans. It’s one game. The winner takes all. And the loser goes home. For the players, Game 7 is a no tomorrow contest. All the effort, all the pain, the countless hours of practice and the preparations would mean nothing if you lose this one game. One team marches to immortality, the other left to rot. The difference boils down to one game. Yesterday, the Dallas Mavericks thrashed the Phoenix Suns to forge a Game 7 in Phoenix. The Miami Heat, on the other hand, ended the playoffs run of the Philadelphia 76ers. The series between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies as well as the duel between the Boston Celtics and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks stand at 3-2. We will know today if NBA fans are treated with two more Game 7s in the ongoing playoffs. Jrue for the rescue Jrue Holiday has been one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. He is not flashy, his numbers won’t blow you away, but the Bucks went all in, signed him to a 4-year $135 million contract and even traded three first-round picks for him. That’s almost at the level of the price paid for Anthony Davis and James Harden. Holiday won’t be considered in the same league as the other two. He’s a third wheel in the Bucks’ wagon, while Davis and Harden are clear the number two dogs on their team. But with the injury to Khris Middleton, Holiday was the next man up. It had to be a play on Marcus Smart, the newly minted NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Smart was the first guard to win the DPOY since 1996, when Gary Payton was in his prime as The Glove. Today, there is already Gary Payton 2nd, just to offer a perspective on how long it has been. That defensive play will haunt the Celtics for a long time as they lost the home court advantage and could also lose the series. The Bucks will have two attempts to knock them out, the first one on their home floor. Boston has the talent, but probably not the indomitable will to survive this. Time to revive #BucksInSix. What’s next for Philly Two years ago, you would say that the Joel Embiid and James Harden combination is unbeatable in a seven-game series. They still can put up the numbers, especially Embiid who recently lost the Most Valuable Player trophy to Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets for the second straight year. However, Harden’s game has deteriorated and could hardly put up 20 points a game. The question now lingers: What will the 76ers do with Embiid and Harden? Will they break the duo or will they give the two superstars another chance? While Philadelphia relied too much on the two superstars, the Miami Heat have spread the duties to almost everyone in the roster. Of course, their main men will still be Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo but you just can’t take for granted guys like Tyler Hero, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Victor Oladipo and even PJ Tucker. They do not rely on their superstars as much as the Sixers. This is the new paradigm in the NBA: hastily assembled super teams are not the rage anymore. Building patiently through the draft, free agency, even signing undrafted players, have beaten the teams that grab superstars. Take note that both the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are considered a failure this season.