With the 2013 Finals knotted at two games apiece, tonight’s Game 5 in San Antonio is pivotal for both sides.
After a surprisingly lackluster showing in Game 3, Miami came out firing on all cylinders in their 109-93 victory in Game 4 on Thursday night. The Heat’s Big 3 combined for 85 points on 37 of 64 shooting.
Most importantly, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who submitted sub-par performances over the first three games, came out determined and aggressive. Bosh pulled down 13 boards, and Wade’s stat line read 32 points, 6 boards, 4 dimes and 6 steals. As a team Miami shot 53% and outrebounded the bigger Spurs by 5.
Prior to tip-off on Thursday, most pundits were wondering about the health and effectiveness of Wade and Bosh. However, that storyline has since switched benches. Tony Parker’s hamstring and Manu Ginobili’s lack of production have gone under the microscope of speculation heading into the fifth 48.
Parker stated that his hamstring could tear at any time and that if this were the regular season he would take 10 days off to rest it. Manu is averaging only 7.5 ppg in the series and shooting a woeful 34.5%. On Thursday his +/- was -22, and at times he seemed out of the flow and a step slow.
The pattern that’s emerged in this seesaw series would have the Spurs winning comfortably tonight. Except for Game 1, the contests ended with lopsided 19, 36 and 16-point differentials.
In fact, the Spurs need this game more than Miami. Losing would put them in the almost impossible position of having to win the last two games in South Beach.
However, when the Heat’s Big 3 are functioning at full capacity they can be downright scary, and Game 4 was not a good sign for San Antonio. Coach Popovich will need his veteran Big 3 to play well in addition to getting solid contributions from Green and Leonard.
San Antonio must show Miami that Parker is effective and only partially limited and get a breakthrough game from Ginobili, because even with a Black & Silver victory tonight they still have to win one in Miami.
27 times the NBA Finals have been tied at 2-2, and the winner of Game 5 went on to win the title 20 times.
Expect both teams to come out ready to do battle tonight, with the Spurs fueled by a mix of hunger and desperation. After all, this could be the last time SA’s Big 3 play together in front of their home crowd.