- Series Hub: Spurs-Heat
SAN ANTONIO — With Manu Ginobili‘s 24 points and 10 assists in the San Antonio Spurs’ Game 5 win Sunday night over the Miami Heat, each member of each team’s Big Three has now had a big moment.
In Game 5, LeBron James (8-for-22 from the floor), Dwyane Wade (10-for-22) and Chris Bosh (7-for-11) didn’t shoot great, but they did combine for 66 points, 16 rebounds and 19 assists. Sounds like a winning formula just as the statistics of the Spurs’ Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and surprise starter Ginobili do: 67 points, 15 rebounds and 16 assists.
With such even production, what was the difference in the Spurs’ 114-104 win in Game 5?
The role players.
San Antonio’s continue to come up big. Danny Green hit six more 3-pointers and scored 24 points. Kawhi Leonard went 6-for-8 from the floor for 16 points, plus eight rebounds and three steals. Boris Diaw used his girth to make James uncomfortable for much of the game.
With Ginobili in the starting lineup, the Spurs’ first five all scored between 16 and 24 points. For Miami, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers combined for seven points on 2-for-11 shooting.
RIGHT: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich‘s decision to insert the struggling Ginboili into the starting lineup paid tremendous dividends. Playing alongside Parker more often allowed Ginobili to play off the ball more with less defensive attention — and often with Miller on him — and he was aggressive with his drives. He knocked down his first two shots early in the first quarter and dished a couple of assists and confidence that had been so elusive rushed back. Ginobili finished with a season-high 24 points and 10 assists and the Spurs moved to 23-2 this season when Ginobili has at least six assists.
WRONG: One reason Popovich put Ginobili in the starting lineup is because Heat coach Erik Spoelstra changed up his starting lineup for Game 4, going for offense with a smaller lineup that included Mike Miller instead of rugged forward Udonis Haslem. Off the bench, Miller was on fire, canning 9-for-10 shots from the beyond the arc. In two games as a starter, Miller is a combined 0-for-2 from the field (both shots from 3-point range) for zero points in nearly 46 minutes.
RIGHT: A few days ago Danny Green said he’s still waiting for someone to pinch him and wake him up. Yeah, well, the Spurs would like for that person to stay away for at least one more win. Green is on an historic hot streak and after he dropped another six 3-pointers in Game 5 on 10 attempts, he’s 25-for-38 (65.8 percent) from beyond the arc. He surpassed Ray Allen with the most 3-point baskets ever in an NBA Finals — and it’s only Game 5. He’s hit four, five, seven, three and six 3s in the first five games. Remarkable.
WRONG: The Heat’s defense on Green. As Parker said after Game 5, how in the world is Green open, ever, beyond the arc at this point in the series? Now, as Green said, he’s not actually open every time, he’s hitting contested 3s as well. The Spurs move the ball so well that it’s impossible to contain Parker, Ginobili and Duncan and still protect the 3-point arc. If the Heat want to stay alive for a Game 7, they’ll have to figure this out.
RIGHT: Dwyane Wade has really dialed back the clock. He had the huge 32-point, six-rebound, four-assist, six-steal Game 4 and followed it up with 25 points and 10 assists in Game 5.
WRONG: Have the tables turned for the Heat? Should we now be saying Wade can’t do it alone? James had his struggles in Game 5, scoring 25 points on 8-for-22 shooting, which included a ghastly 2-for-11 in the second half and 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter with just one free throw attempt in 10:54.
RIGHT: Another example of Pop pushing the right button at the right time was his use of Boris Diaw in Game 5. Diaw logged nine and 11 minutes, respectively in Games 1 and 2 and didn’t play at all in Game 3 before logging another 11 minutes in Game 4. In Game 5? Diaw played 27 minutes and much of that time was spent putting his weight on James, who finished 8-for-22 from the floor.
WRONG: Another example of the Heat getting nothing out of a role player is Chris “Birdman” Andersen — not that it’s his fault. He’s become a victim of Spoelstra’s small-ball lineup. A significant contributor in the East finals against Indiana, Birdman didn’t miss a shot until Game 7 of that series. He played the first three games of this series until Speolstra inserted Miller into the starting lineup and starting bringing Haslem off the bench. So not only have the Heat gotten no scoring out of Miller, they’ve kept their energy guy on the bench.