The momentum keeps swinging and shifting with every game, and entering game 5 of the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat are carrying the positive side of it, despite having to play for a third time in a row on the road against the San Antonio Spurs, suddenly looking like the team with more troubles at their end.
At the moment, the biggest issues for the Spurs seem to be Tony Parker’s health and Manu Ginobili looking like a guy a few weeks away from retiring. Parker has admitted his hamstring can tear up at any minute, and if this was the regular season, there is no way he would be playing.
Ginobili is averaging 7.5 points while shooting 34.5% from the field in this series, and has been especially awful from beyond the arc, usually taking shots with a hand or two in his face. Except for a few easy dunks in game 3, there hasn’t been anything he’s been able to do pretty well.
And with both of them handicapped to a certain extent, the pressure on Tim Duncan is greater, but even the biggest of nights from Duncan, who has scored 20 points twice in this series, isn’t going to help. The Spurs need their two playmakers healthy and playing well, so their ball movement can once again slice and dice through the Miami defense, like it did in game 3, when everything that could have gone well did.
But those kind of games don’t happen a lot. What’s more likely is the Spurs having to rely on hard work and more than just lucky shots to win this game, and this series. Going into Miami needing to win two consecutive games sounds like an impossible mission, something even Spurs players are admitting.
We don’t want to go to Miami knowing that we have to win both. Going there to win one of the two is a different situation. So Game 5, regardless of where you play, it’s huge for you at 2-2. We’ve seen it too many times. We really want to win this one.
Reasons to be optimistic? The Spurs have never lost a game 5 in the finals, including in 2003 and 2005 when the series was tied at 2-2. Overall in NBA history, of the 27 times the series was tied at 2-2, the Game 5 winner went on to win 20 of them.
But the Miami Heat don’t have only historic numbers to cling on to. Their 85 points from the big three has been the real encouraging sign, more than anything being Dwyane Wade scoring 32 points, adding 6 steals and looking for the first time in this postseason like a superstar, dragging Chris Bosh (20 points, 13 rebounds) up with him. LeBron James took care of the rest with 33 points, but that was only after the Spurs were pounded into submission by Wade.
The Heat’s key in this one, as it has been all throughout the series and the playoffs, is how good their defense performs for most of the game. Another high intensity, trapping, double teaming and gambling performance should do the trick, forcing 19 turnovers and scoring 23 points off of them in the previous game. Being too slow to react to the ball movement the Spurs will get going as usual might result in another disastrous night when it comes to stopping the three.
Prediction – The Heat don’t have the Spurs on the ropes, but it seems like San Antonio are trying to make it feel that way. And still, it seems like Parker can’t function for an entire game, while Manu Ginobili hasn’t arrived to this series. A lot depends on the knee of Wade and the hamstring of Parker, but if the Status Quo remains, Miami should have enough to take a 3-2 lead.