NBA playoff series have a certain life-cycle that can extend up to 7 games, but the last three games are usually a bit different than the first four. The Miami Heat’s last win, which brought the offensive powers of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together for the first time in this postseason, means it’s time to stop trading blows and adjustments, and simply let their talent take them towards a second consecutive win in the finals.
It’s been a while since the Heat won two games in a row. In fact, they won four in a row, and nine of their first ten entering the postseason. But since then it’s been win, loss, win, loss; both the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs have proven resilient in their coaching, changes, adjustments, and with their players, which was slightly surprising when it came to Indiana past a certain point, but shouldn’t be when it comes to the Spurs.
There are only so much adjustments a head coach can make, and there’s a good chance both have shown each other the best of their cards. From here on out it’s about changes on-the-fly during games, but most importantly, what the players do themselves. So would you rather have anyone else on the floor feeling confident and in charge of making the decisions than LeBron James and a suddenly rejuvenated Dwyane Wade, with Chris Bosh making the most of whatever they leave him with?
Game 5 will be a huge decider, because it will tell us of what game 4 was all about, and especially how much Wade has left. After three insignificant performances to start off the series, the 2006 Finals MVP exploded for 32 points and picking up six steals. When the Miami Heat’s defense is at its best, it allows Wade to gamble and intercept passing lanes, leading to easy baskets on the other end.
And while it’s impossible to keep that mindset of lockdown on defense for the entire 48 minutes, it needs to be there for a significant amount of time. The 19 team turnovers by the Spurs are too much for them to overcome, and another showing like that might be the straw that breaks the back of a team that has never trailed in the NBA Finals, unlike the Miami Heat, who have always been behind at one point or another in each of their four trips to the finals.
The San Antonio Spurs have shows their weakness to some of the Heat’s lineups, at least with their defense, for the first time over an extended period in this series. Their two play-makers are on the ropes – Manu Ginobili can’t make a good decision if his life depended on it and Tony Parker doesn’t have it in him due to an injury to give more than one good half of basketball. If that’s not an exposed vein to take advantage of, I don’t know what is.
The last three games (if we’ll need three) will come down mostly to what players come up with the big plays, and less about what the head coaches can do. Better shooting from what the Spurs pulled off in game 3 won’t happen again, unless the Heat break down defensively, which isn’t that likely to happen for a second time in this series.
If Dwyane Wade is truly back, at least for one more week, to his close-to-MVP form, than it’s going to be very to stop the Miami Heat from winning the NBA title, not really needing anything to remarkable from their role players if their big three are at their best.