By: James Johnson
Game 5 of the NBA Finals kicked off Sunday at the AT&T Center of San Antonio, and Spurs fans left the arena with nothing less than a show from their home team.
Yes, you read the title right. It does say “the Heat’s Big Three” and “the Spurs Big Four”. As we know for the Heat, that would be LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. As for the Spurs, that’s Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green (wait, who?). The same Danny Green that was waived by the Cavaliers in 2010 and was assigned to the D-League in 2011? The same Danny Green that Spurs head coach Greg Popovich waived not just not once, but twice? Yes, that would be the Danny Green I’m referring to, and if you have been watching this series you’d know that he’s been playing big time. Sunday he added to his superb play on the series by breaking Ray Allen’s record for three pointers (22) in a Finals series. Green later surpassed Allen’s record by 3, giving him a total of 25 of 38 attempts (65.8%) in terms of three pointers for the series. He finished the game with 24 points. Green’s play has caught the NBA world by storm and he appears to be on pace to be the Finals MVP if the Spurs can close out the series. He also has a chance to increase his lead on Ray Allen’s record Wednesday for game 6.
Another twist in this game was Spurs head coach Greg Popovich inserting Manu Ginobili into the starting lineup. Popovich’s confidence in the savvy veteran proved to be worth it as Ginobili started the game hot and ended with 24 points. This move, in my opinion, shows why Popovich is the legend he is since Ginobili has been struggling through the playoffs. Over the course of the team’s break from game 4, Pop had a chat with Ginobili encouraging him to “settle down, just play ball and in return you’ll play like the the Manu Ginobili we all know,” according to current Finals announcer Jeff Van Gundy. And evidently, it worked (at least for game 5). Alongside his 24 points, Ginobili was 8-14 from the field (.517%) and came away from Sunday’s game with 10 assists.
It was business as usual for Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Parker came away with 26 points and was 10-14 from the field (.714%) with 5 assists. He bounced back from a game in which he started hot but went cold. The hamstring injury he suffered in game 3 didn’t seem to be an issue for game 4, and if he keeps this up the Spurs could likely take the series. As for Duncan, he finished with 17 points and was 7-10 from the field (.700%). As the team’s leaders, Duncan and Parker must continue this play going forward, and keep the team in the right mind frame to finish strong. If the Spurs can replicate their play from game 5 to game 6, simply put, this series is over.
As for Miami, we all know better than to count them out of this series. Upon return to Miami, as LeBron James said, “We can’t worry about game 7, we have to worry about game 6.” Both he and Wade accounted for 50 of the Heats points with 25 a piece. Ray Allen, who has been on a shooting spree of his own, scored 21 points and was 7-10 from the field. Chris Bosh scored 16 points and was 7-11 from the field with 6 rebounds.
For them, I think Sunday’s loss boils down to a couple things. For one, James was 8-22 from the field. We all know that if he would’ve come away from game 5 with a higher percentage the game would’ve been a lot closer. Credit to Kawhi Lenard, for slowing him (keyword: slowing). Also, the Heat could use a lift from Mario Chalmers, who to me is an x-factor for them. They need another game 2 (He was 6-12, and 19 points) performance out of him. As we know, the Heat blew the Spurs out of the water when he showed up, and if he can show up these next two games, I like the Heat’s chances. Lastly, it boils down to how this article started, and that’s the Heat’s big three being out played by what the Spurs can now call the big 4 with Ginobili’s resurgence and Danny Green playing like a series MVP. The Heat’s biggest mistake of this series could be letting Manu Ginobli get back in his groove. They must get him back to the offensive player he was prior throughout the playoffs. Not to mention they haven’t found answer for Green. If you all follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I took San Antonio to win this series. Why? Because I felt Dwanyne Wade would fade down the stretch due to his knee situation. Well, now we are about to find out if he’ll do just that. If I’m the Spurs, I continue to run him around the court with Green and see if he can stick with him. If he can’t, simply put, this series is over for Miami.
The series continues today at 9:00 P.M. EST on ABC in Miami. With the way it’s gone back and forth, it will be very interesting to watch how Miami will respond. They’ve shown resilience all throughout this series and will have to do it once more to stay alive. Can they do it against a veteran savvy team that’s just one win away from being the Finals champs? That question will be answered soon enough.