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Heat pushed to the brink after the Spurs’ Game 5 win

ray-allen-head-scratch-1

June 17, 2013

@nick_speed

In a pivotal Game 5 at home, the Spurs dominated from the start. They ran their game plan to perfection, jumped out to 13 point 1 st quarter lead, and didn’t look back in their 114-104 victory. In a surprising move, coach Gregg Popovich moved Manu Ginobili into the started lineup and it payed huge dividends. San Antonio finally received a big lift from Ginobili who had been quiet all series with a 24 point, 10 assist outburst. The Spurs “Big 3” bounced back from an average Game 4 to combine for 67 points. This game was not just about the stars for the Spurs, they received big contributions from the entire team. Each starter scored double figures (shot 60% as a team), Danny Green continued his shooting tear (6-10 on 3 pt FGs), and Boris Diaw played some solid defense on LeBron down the stretch.

Heading home for the final 2 games will be just what Miami needs. They missed a ton of layups last night, and that won’t happen in South Beach. Their energy on defense will turn up a notch at home also. However, the Heat will have a few adjustments to make. Miami will have to do a better job of keeping a body on Danny Green. The way he’s been shooting you can’t give him a centimeter. Despite being cut from the Cavaliers and the Spurs twice, Green has taken his game to another level this postseason. He is now tied with Ray Allen for a Finals record 25 3’s. The Miami Heat also need bigger contributions from Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem. Both players played well against Chicago and Indiana but have been held in check in the Finals. If Haslem and Cole are held scoreless again on Tuesday, Miami won’t make it to a Game 7. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra should also consider moving Ray Allen into the starting line up. Mike Miller will find his stroke again in Miami after going scoreless in Game 5, but defense has always been non-existent. Ray Allen is not a great defender, but he is a solid, crafty veteran who could help keep a body on Green/Ginobili in spurts.

The Spurs also have some work to do before Game 6. Despite their emphatic Game 5 win, they finally let Ray Allen shake loose for a Finals high 21 points. San Antonio will have to keep an eye on Allen as the series progresses. After averaging 13 ppg over the last 3 games, Gray Neal could only muster 2 points yesterday. He must find some more scoring opportunities in order for the Spurs to finish off the Heat in Game 6. Tiago Splitter also has to do a better job crashing the boards, 2 rebounds won’t cut it for Spurs big man.

This NBA Finals reminds me of the Lakers v. Celtics in 2010. The Lakers dropped 2 road games and headed back home down 2-3 with all the pressure on them. Despite their backs being against the wall, LA managed to win games 6 and 7 to capture title. I have a feeling that the Miami Heat will do the same and defeat the Spurs in 7 games. The Heat still have the best player in the planet in LeBron James, and the role players will play better at home. Everyone knows what’s at stake, and that there’s no longer any margin for error. The Spurs are looking for the knockout blow on Tuesday, let’s see if King James muster up enough to force a Game 7. Tensions will be at an all time high on Tuesday, as several future HOF’s will be looking to cement their legacy.

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