Back-And-Forth Finals Sets Up Game 5


SAN ANTONIO — The games haven’t been close, but the series has gone back and forth. Now, The Finals and the 2012-13 NBA championship is down to a three-game series. And if you say you know what’s going to happen next, you’re lying.

The basics:
Game 5 tips off Sunday night at 8 ET on ABC.

This is the 11th time that The Finals have been tied 2-2 since going to the 2-3-2 format in 1985 (see table below). The winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the title in seven of the previous 10 instances. The home team has won six of those 10 Game 5s and and gone on to close out the series on the road (in Game 6) three of the six times. Each of the four times the road team has won Game 5, they’ve gone on to win the series back at home.

The narrative:
To win two straight championships, the Heat need to win two straight games. But they haven’t done that since the conference semifinals. Since stepping up in competition, they’ve yet to put two championship-caliber performances together.

The inconsistency starts with starters Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers, who have averaged 43.0 points on 50 percent shooting in the Heat’s last six wins and just 34.2 points on 36 percent shooting in their last five losses. But there’s also been a lot more defensive energy in the wins. And for the Heat, stops often turn into better shots on the other end of the floor.

Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) will be in Miami, but LeBron James believes the time is now for the Heat to finally back up a win with another.

The subplots:
When things get tight for the Spurs, Manu Ginobili is often the guy who comes up with big plays. But Ginobili has been out of sorts all series and is shooting 11-for-35 (31 percent) over his last five games, including 3-for-19 (16 percent) from 3-point range. He has more turnovers (13) than buckets in that stretch and has the worst plus-minus (minus-36) in The Finals.

Given the likelihood that their role players aren’t going to shoot as well as they did in Game 3, the Spurs need Ginobili as a secondary playmaker when Tony Parker is both on and off the floor. And if the sixth man doesn’t get out of his funk, the Spurs probably aren’t going to win the series.

The Heat’s ability to get into the paint and to the line will always be critical. They’ve averaged 61.0 points in the paint and at the line in their two wins and 42.5 in their two losses. Their jumpers were also falling in the two wins, but they must play inside-out and not settle for the perimeter shots that the Spurs are often begging them to take.

Xs and Os:
Neither team is going to make any serious tactical adjustments after four games. At this point, assuming that both teams will bring the proper energy for such a crucial game, it comes down to execution. The Spurs want to play like they did in Game 3 and the Heat want to play like they did in Game 4. And it’s really as simple as that.

The Spurs, who have totaled 36 turnovers in their two losses, must first take care of the ball. Getting Tim Duncan some low-post touches would be great, but they can’t force things against the Heat’s denial. On pick-and-rolls, their bigs must create passing lanes for Parker to get them the ball.

Defensively, San Antonio must get back in transition, keep James from getting to the basket, and find Mike Miller and Ray Allen before they get near the 3-point line.

Miami obviously needs to be active and aggressive defensively, force turnovers, and get out on the break. But their weak-side defense is just as important as their strong-side denials and traps, because the Spurs have the shooters to make them pay for double-teams. If their rotations aren’t crisp and organized, Game 5 might look a lot like Game 3.

Who’s hot?
Amazingly, the Heat didn’t need threes from Miller (0-for-1) or Allen (1-for-4) in Game 4. But that doesn’t mean that the Spurs can leave them open. Miller is still a scorching 9-for-11 from beyond the arc in the series, while Allen is 7-for-13. James has assisted on half of their 16 total threes.

Danny Green (19-for-28 on threes) and Gary Neal (12-for-22) continued their hot shooting on Thursday. They’ve been assisted by 10 different teammates on the 31 total threes.

Whatever happened to…
Mario Chalmers? The Heat’s point guard came up huge in their Game 2 win, leading all scorers with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Then he went 0-for-5 in Game 3 and missed his first two shots of Game 4. He did hit two big threes in the third quarter on Thursday and big performances from the big three meant that the Heat didn’t need much production from him, but Game 5 could be different.

If Wade or Bosh can’t put two straight All-Star performances together or if James doesn’t shoot well from the outside, Chalmers will need to step up.

Game 5 results with Finals tied 2-2, since 1985 (winner in CAPS)

Year Away Score Home Score Series result
1985 Boston 111 L.A. LAKERS 120 L.A. in 6
1988 L.A. Lakers 94 DETROIT 104 L.A. in 7
1992 CHICAGO 119 Portland 106 Chicago in 6
1994 Houston 84 NEW YORK 91 Houston in 7
1997 CHICAGO 90 Utah 88 Chicago in 6
2003 SAN ANTONIO 93 New Jersey 83 San Antonio in 6
2005* SAN ANTONIO 96 Detroit 95 San Antonio in 7
2006* Dallas 100 MIAMI 101 Miami in 6
2010 L.A. Lakers 86 BOSTON 92 L.A. in 7
2011 Miami 103 DALLAS 112 Dallas in 6

* Game 5 went to overtime


  1. Awesome win in gm 5 Spurs-yet still need to stop/cut way down the turnovers. I knew Ginobiliiiiiiiiiii would get hot-now he’ll stay hot-making plays is when he’s @ his best. TP & TD can just keep being themselves & everyone else Leonard, Green, Neal & the rest all have the confidence & fortitude to finish the job & win the next gm!

  2. shirley says:

    excited who will be the CHAmp 2013

  3. Levios says:

    Yes I know what’s gonna happen 2night. Miami is gonna win. And they’re goning to win the 6th as well. Because the Spurs take 15-20 turovers each game, and they can’t rebound if Miami is doing a good defense. MIAMI IN 6 !!

  4. Miami Heat Fan says:

    I can’t wait to watch game 5. It will be a sure battle. If Spurs win this game 5. 92% will take the Larry O’Brien Trophy, But if Miami win game 5, 99% will have their repeat and take the Larry O’Brien Trophy. May the Best Team WIN!

  5. Perulysse says:

    Miami has to be win this game tonight

  6. realist2013 says:

    Spurs take care of the ball, spread the floor and get Duncan going early. Most importantly keep the ball moving. Miami does gamble defensively. I f they are going to feed Timmy spread the floor so the help defender has to give his man room. When lebron or wade posts up swarm and rotate they will cough up the ball. They let them get the ball too close in the post last game and when help came wade or lebron (the cutter) got the feed. Looking for a good game tonight.

  7. theholyspectator says:

    miamis gonna win this game, they understand this whole back and forth win loss thing aint gonna cut it, been sayin it all along, whichever team wins back to back, is winning the title.