“Reports of my demise were premature. That’s my opening statement.”
Those were the first words Shane Battier spoke when he went to the podium in the interview room after playing a key role in the Heat’s 95-88 Game 7 win over the Spurs.
The last Game 7 the Heat were in — a couple weeks back against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals — Battier never got off the bench. He was 2-of-16 from three in that series and as the Heat went big to match the Pacers he got squeezed out of the rotation.
For the first five games of the NBA Finals he was little better — 3-for-15 and he again was barely getting in games. But through it all he kept talking about sticking to his routine, getting up his shots in practice, being ready.
“Winston Churchill said ‘When going through Hell keep going.’ So I don’t need to reinvent anything, I just need to do what I do and when the shot is there, take it,” Battier said before Game 5.
He started to find that rhythm in Game 6 (3-of-4 from three).
Then he exploded in Game 7 with an NBA Finals Game 7 record 6 three pointers (on 8 shots), which led to 18 points. All series long the Spurs tried to clog the paint and take away the drives of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but the trade off was room for shooters at the arc.
Battier finally made them pay at the most opportune possible moment for the Heat.
“Honestly, I felt good the last couple of games,” Battier said. “And I made a couple of threes last game, and so I felt really confident tonight. I knew that our starters were going to be pretty tired after Game 6. It was an emotionally and physically draining game. I only played 12 minutes. So I felt great.”
Battier is a guy with the perspective of a veteran, so he didn’t see Game 7 as pressure filled.
“I’ve always thought that pressure is trying to feed your family, trying to make the mortgage. We play a game,” Battier said. “We play basketball.”
Thursday night he played it very well, and for that reason he is a back-to-back NBA Champion.