There’s only one game that matters in the daily sports docket for Thursday, and it’s the last Battle In Miami, as the Heat and the San Antonio Spurs meet in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, at 9 PM ET on ABC.
This is only the fifth Game 7 since 1985, that year selected as the benchmark because it’s when the league went to the 2-3-2 format. If you’re main interest is just a good game then the track record is good. The previous instances—1988 (Lakers-Pistons), 1994 (Rockets-Knicks), 2005 (Spurs-Pistons) and 2010 (Celtics-Lakers) have all been compelling games.
They’ve also all gone to the home team, as the Spurs will seek to be the first team since the then-named Washington Bullets won it all on the home court of the Seattle Supersonics (today’s Oklahoma City Thunder) back in 1978. Maybe the fact that neither franchise exists under the name it played under in ’78 illustrates better than anything how long it’s been since the road team won a Game 7.
But all streaks come to an end eventually, and it’s easy for me to see this one breaking historical patterns. I won’t be shocked if San Antonio wins, but I also won’t be surprised if Miami wins going away, and breaks the trend of close games. And my actual prediction is that the Heat will probably win a close game. How’s that for hedging for your bets in every way possible? It underscores that these Finals have been so compelling, so evenly contested—each team has won two games decisively and one in a thriller—that you can envision most anything unfolding and have a realistic chance of being right.
Baseball action will be the Red Sox-Tigers on the MLB Network at 7 PM ET, and in the College World Series it’s a grudge match between top-ranked North Carolina and ACC rival N.C. State. The loser is knocked out of the tournament, while the winner will then have to defeat UCLA two times in succession in order to reach next week’s national final. On the other side of the bracket, Mississippi State gets two chances to defeat Oregon State, starting tomorrow, in order to make the best-of-three championship round.
TheSportsNotebook has NHL analysis coming up in a little bit, as we shake out Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals last night. If you still haven’t recovered from Tuesday’s extraordinary Game 6 of the NBA Finals, you can check the NBA commentary that followed that game yesterday. MLB coverage was updated over the weekend, and will have some fresh installments coming up at the back end of this week.