After eight months of action, night after night of sweat and toil, it all comes down to this. Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, with the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat duelling for the title.
Sport doesn’t get any better.
The defending champions, with home advantage in Florida, pulled off their Great Escape on Tuesday when they pulled out an improbable comeback in the fourth quarter from the brink of defeat, eventually levelling the series at 3-3 in overtime.
And now they are 1.34 to get that single victory they need to retain their championship and cement, in part, the legacy of their stars.
Because make no mistake, for all the hype around Miami’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, a single title from their three years in tandem would be nothing less than a disaster, and a damning verdict on the ploy of acquiring talent and then worrying later on about how it fits together. Succeed, and not only might they be seen as one of the great combinations in NBA history, but rivals everywhere will be dreaming up ways to pull off a similar concentration of stellar players.
Lose, and it will be San Antonio whose path to success which will be the template for the future. The Spurs are 3.32 to win the fifth championship of the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich era and +6 on the handicap at 1.91. Should they come up trumps, they will challenge the Shaq-Kobe Lakers for the unofficial claim to be the team of their generation. Yet they must rally against history which has seen home teams prevail on 14 of the 17 times where the NBA Finals have been taken to a seventh game.
Much will be depend on how they recover from the trauma of allowing Game 6 to slip through their fingers. That may have been their best shot. Tonight will, almost certainly, be the last shot for their ageing group in a clash that should head over the total points line of 189.5.
The win is what matters. But there is, quite simply, more than just a shiny golden trophy on the line. Game 7 is about legacy above all. Which is why, despite spending 100 nights putting their bodies through the mill, Miami and San Antonio will leave no energy unexpended in their bid to land one final blow.
Best bet: Take Miami over San Antonio on the handicap of -6 at 1.91