Given each club's propensity to share the ball (both averaged about 21½ apg this season, and both show patience on the offensive end), and their shared defensive habit of, as Hubie put it the first night, taking away all your pet moves and set plays, we could see any one of about 13 players making the difference in this game.

We've seen it already in the series: Manu was the hero in Games 1 and 2, Ben owned the third, Lindsey Hunter put his stamp on the fourth, the fifth will forever belong to Mr. Horry, and Game 6 was Rasheed's when it came down to it (and you'll notice Tim Duncan's and Chauncey Billups' names aren't yet on this list). We have to tune in to see how it unfolds. The game is ripe with possibility.

And if it's close (pleeeeeeeeease let it be close ... say a prayer, light a candle, wish upon a star, do whatever it is you do), it may not be any of those guys at all. It may be some Mario Elie type doing great things, or some poor mug off the bench, spotting for a starter on a three-minute blow, who pulls a boner. Which is to say, it could be anybody doing any big or little thing.

In fact, my buddy Andy and I are thinking about running a pool tomorrow night: Everybody "buys" one of the unsungs. I think he's looking at Big Dog, just for the possibility of six shots in three minutes tipping the scales. I'm going with Hunter again. I see two tide-turning moments, one on a breakaway where he decides to go for a dunk, just to send a message.

And I'm putting some mythical money down on Darko, too, but that's just because I have a crazy theory about how Larry's been setting us up for two years, and I have to hedge against the possibility that the kid is actually really good and he's maybe about to come off the bench in the fourth and hit a bunch of jump hooks over a tired Duncan to put things away.

As for who's actually going to take this thing, I'm still picking the Spurs to win the game, because they were my pick back last summer, and they've been my pick all season long. But I'm seriously nervous about that pick now that we've hit Game 7.

Because I have no idea how it's going to go.

And neither do you.

And while that may not be pretty, I do think it's great.

Eric Neel is a Page 2 columnist



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