After just a dozen hours later, players from both the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs returned to the AmericanAirlines Arena for practice after the highly emotional ending of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
With so much at stake Thursday night, there were plenty of questions about how fatigue could affect the final game of this amazing series. While younger Spurs players like Kawhi Leonard (45 minutes played) and Danny Green (41 minutes) may or may not be affected with the quick turnaround for such an important game, it might be a legitimate concern for their most important players. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker combined to play 122 minutes Tuesday night but the Spurs quickly dismissed such a notion.
When asked how his team is doing after last night's loss and how he would assess his team physically and emotionally today, Duncan preferred to focus on the task at hand.
"Well, we've got one more game. We're not tired in any way. There's no being tired at this point. We've got one more game to win, and that's all that matters."
Whether it was fatigue or not, Duncan closed with 30 points but went scoreless in the fourth quarter and the overtime period. His 25-point first half was just 3 points shy of his career playoff high for a half and his 30 points were also 3 points shy of his career high in a Finals game. Parker also struggled in the second half aside from a late three-pointer and a driving shot in the lane in crunch time but he also brushed off the same question and preferred to look ahead as well.
"I think the way we're going to bounce back and forget about Game 6 is going to be huge for us in Game 7," he answered. "And you know they use a lot of energy too. It's not because you lost the game that Miami is not tired. They're tired too. It was a tough game."
Coach Gregg Popovich was also not concerned with fatigue.
"As long as we didn't play the game at midnight last night or 8:00 this morning, we ought to have time to recover and be fine."
"Whatever it takes," he stated. "I think both sides will be taking that and will try to be as judicious as we can early on, get him rest and see what happens. Some of them might be able to care of in timeouts or quick breaks."
For his part, LeBron is more than ready to play arguably the biggest game of his career. But first he'll need plenty of preparation.
"I feel better today than I did last night already," the MVP admitted. "So I'm going to do my extensive treatment. Do whatever it takes - if I have to play 49 minutes again tomorrow night to help us win, I'm going to do it. Nobody's body is feeling great at this point from both teams. But for me it's all about - it's more mind over matter, man. I'm hurting but it doesn't matter. It's the last game of the season, so it's whatever."
Fatigue or no fatigue, perhaps the biggest question mark for tomorrow is the health of Dwyane Wade, who banged his knee against Ginobili in the first half. He admitted his knee was stiff and swollen this morning but nothing will prevent him from trying to do his part to help the Heat grab their second straight championship.
"There's one game left. Whatever you have inside of you, you muster it up, you give it. So I'll be fine."
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