By Andrew Gilstrap
Magic Johnson and Michael Wilbon were on ESPN poking fun at Miami’s crowd during halftime of Game 5 between the Heat and the Boston Celtics. In the last post, I discussed how San Antonio’s home fans were giving them the extra push to win their first 10 playoff games this year. Boy, how things have changed in the past week.
Boston went on to win Game 5 in Miami on Tuesday 94-90. Miami is the loser of three straight in its Eastern Conference Finals series. San Antonio has also lost three in a row as well, including one at home. I underestimated how Oklahoma City’s home crowd could give the team a lift and help the Thunder turn the series around. Oklahoma City’s fans were instrumental in the Thunder winning Game 3 and Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, but I already knew the Thunder would have a raucous crowd. It always is. It’s not a variable. The Thunder is the only major professional team Oklahoma has.
But, this time, the Thunder’s fans seemed to have enlivened the team to not only win those two home games, but Game 5 in San Antonio as well — yes, against the very same crowd I praised in my last post. Kevin Durant seems to be disproving my comments from that last post also, and he has again emerged as the leader the Thunder need in the fourth quarter. His performance in Game 4 was particularly masterful.
The Spurs and Heat are currently on the brink of elimination. My NBA Finals matchup prediction may just go out the window with them. The Spurs and the Thunder meet tonight for Game 6. San Antonio needs to win to stay alive. Can the Spurs regain their focus in a tough road setting against a team with loads of momentum?
Miami also needs to do the same. Even if Miami is able to steal a game in front of a fiery Boston crowd, will the Heat’s “sixth man” provide enough of a boost in Game 7 to get the team to the NBA Finals? Perhaps Miami’s home crowd isn’t truly as indifferent as commentators like to advertise, but one thing’s for sure: They certainly are the weakest link out of the four teams left.