MIAMI -- With so much talk about the Spurs suffering a gut-wrenching loss and a stomach-punch defeat Tuesday night, you'd have expected a team of gastroenterologists to be at San Antonio's shootaround Wednesday, but upon arrival at American Airlines Arena, there were none to be found.
A mere 12 hours after enduring one of the most devastating losses in recent NBA memory, Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the rest of the Spurs were on the AAA court going through their normal routine sans GI doctors. In fact, from the answers the team gave throughout the ensuing interview session, if there were medical professionals in the arena, they might have been sports psychologists.
The theme of the day for San Antonio was to put the Game 6 loss in their rear view mirror and get ready for Game 7, though each player had a different strategy to build their own mental toughness.
Kawhi Leonard, who has been charged with containing LeBron James for much of the series, is choosing to go the "heart" route.
"We're going to be ready for tomorrow,” he said. “Our hearts are still in the game. It doesn’t matter how any of us feel physically. As long as your heart is in the game and you feel like you can win, that's all you need."
Another breakout player in this series, Danny Green, is taking a more pragmatic approach, especially when it comes to letting go. His strategy is to process, vent and move on.
"It was a long game, it was a good game, it was an overtime game, and it was one to think about on both ends of the floor. I'm sure a lot of guys were thinking about it all night,” he said. “I tried to stay away from the television as much as possible. We had dinner last night and it was a good group bonding thing. We obviously talked and guys got some stuff off their chests and we got our minds cleared and moved forward. I try not to replay it. I try to think of how close we were and what we need to do to fix it [for Game 7]."
While Leonard and Green spoke to how they personally handled the Game 6 loss, Gary Neal, the one-time-European-hoops-journeyman-turned-integral-role-player, has put his faith in the Hall of Fame leaders on his team.
"Everybody deals with certain situations differently," Neal said. "Everybody knows what we have to do and we can’t have a hangover from Game 6. Game 6 is over. I know we won’t be bothered from the loss. Our mindset will be on game seven to try to win a championship. We have great leadership here with Coach Pop and the big three and these guys have been through everything and that trickles down ... we're ready.”
Manu Ginobili admitted to having trouble sleeping following Game 6 and also copped to how awful he felt immediately after the loss.
Ginobili then referred to tough losses he has endured at world championships and other international tournaments, and how, in those instances, there was no tomorrow. Knowing that the Spurs still have one more game to win the title is how he has coped.
"In this case, we do have another opportunity,” he said. "It's the last one and we'll try to bounce back. We still have time. In ten plus years together we’ve basically been through everything, but nothing like this. Hopefully we’re up to the challenge. We know that we can play better and we have to."
The sense of urgency was palpable in Ginobili's voice, but if you prefer the standard “another day at the office” approach, look no further than Tim Duncan.
As he fielded questions during Wednesday’s post-practice press conference, he maintained his famous flat line attitude when asked about handling the quick 48-hour turnaround between his team’s heartbreaking loss and the tip off of Game 7.
"Our core guys have been through a lot together and we have some young talent here and they're going to feed off of what we do," he said. "Tony, Manu and I have been in this position before. We’re excited about this opportunity."
Duncan continued by using a hypothetical scenario to put the whole situation in context:
"If someone came up to us at the beginning of the season and asked if we would want to play a Game 7 for the NBA championship we would say yes," he said. "So, we're here."
As the media session ended and the Spurs retreated to their locker room, talk of wrenching guts and punched stomachs faded into the background. The Spurs say they're over their Game 6 loss mentally. For their sake, I hope they’re right – otherwise, their entire season could go belly up Thursday night.