Just when we all thought he was all but done Manu Ginobili finally decided to join in the fun and scored a finals high 24 points and had 10 assists as San Antonio won 114-104 and continued the pattern of flip-flopping decisive victories for each team in this strange but very entertaining series. As he has been doing all series Danny Green continued to help his case for Finals MVP by scoring 24 points going 6 of 10 from deep helping him break the NBA Finals record for the most the three pointers made with 25 which was previously held by current Heat sharpshooter Ray Allen. Even though still dealing with a tender hamstring, Tony Parker was not slowed down by it and scored a team high 26 on a highly efficient 10-14 shooting and got to the line 8 times converting 6 after refusing to alter his game in spite of raising the risk of causing more damage to the already tender leg muscle.
Once again the Mr. Hyde passive lackadaisical side of the Heat showed up and failed to seize an opportunity to control the series. It seems as if the only time this team plays up to its full potential is if there is a sense of urgency and because the series wasn’t on the line, the desire wasn’t there. Unlike before when there were games that one of the Big 3 wouldn’t show up, Game 5 was the first time that they all the had good but unspectacular performances but still lost. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 50 points but only shot a combined 18-44 from the field with 7 turnovers. And outside of a 21 points from the ageless Ray Allen and a decent 16 points and 6 rebounds from Chris Bosh, they had no help. Mike Miller who had been playing well, along with Udonis Haslem and Norris Cole combined for ZERO points with 3 shot attempts. Strangely there was a second straight DNP next to Chris “Birdman” Anderson name in the boxscore and it has drawn the ire of many Heat fans because he has been the spark of the bench most of the playoffs.
What the Heat must do in Game 6:
Free the Birdman: We don’t know if there is a lingering injury or disciplinary issues, but Coach Spoelstra not to playing Birdman Anderson is baffling. While he will never have plays run for him or be the focal point of the offense, this high energy guy did have a point in the playoffs where he made 18 consecutive shots and is a good enough defender to serve as a major deterrent to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili’s desires to drive to the basket. He is also someone who allows Bosh to move to the power forward position and not be burdened with the tough task of checking Tim Duncan.
Get Help: Yes everything starts with James, Wade and Bosh but they cant do it all by themselves and with the Heat fully expecting Coach Popovich to have a gameplan set in place to limit these three as much as possible, it is imperative that they find additional help. Ray Allen being able to give them 21 off the bench was huge but when you have multiple guys give you nothing at all, when you know they are capable of 8-14 points, it has to be frustrating. The foursome of Miller, Cole, Haslem and Mario Chalmers in Game 3 & 5 losses gave the team 30 total points with 15 coming from Miller and 8 from Cole in Game 3 and 7 from Chalmers in Game 5 but only on 2 of 10 shooting. Whereas in Games 2 & 4 wins they combined for 43 which isn’t much better collectively but they were in a better flow of the game.
What must the Spurs do in Game 6:
Protect the ball: Trying not to sound like a broken record and even in a Game 5 win they had 19, but the Spurs have struggled with turning the ball over. In this game it will be even more important to be closer to the 10-13 turnover range because LeBron will be looking for any opportunity to get on the fastbreak. It is already a difficult task slowing him down on made baskets if he is the primary ballhandler but allowing him and Wade to get out on the fast break is a recipe for disaster.
Don’t let Crawford decide the game: Because of their prior history, the assigning of Joey Crawford to referee tonight’s game has brought the conspiracy theorist out in full force with some feeling that NBA Commissioner David Stern made this controversial move to ensure victory for Miami and guarantee a Game 7 so the league could make more money. Many point to the 2007 ejection by Crawford of a laughing Duncan as he sat on the bench as the starting point of this feud and Duncan has also gone as far as saying that he felt that the veteran ref of over 30 years has a vendetta against him. The awkward relationship was probably took a turn worse when Duncan and Parker snapped the controversial Halloween photo below. Knowing all of this the Spurs must play with a heightened sense of composure and if it means imposing their will early and often to ensure that Crawford doesn’t even have influence in the game, so be it.
Going by the pattern of the series it would be logical to pick Miami in a blowout, thus forcing a Game 7… but tonight will be different. While the Heat will probably be playing with their Dr. Jekyll intensity tonight, San Antonio will also have a sense of urgency as well because they do not want to play in a Game 7 with momentum of the series having switched back to Miami. Coach Speolstra will probably insert Birdman back into the rotation and it will pay early dividends, but the Spurs have too much firepower and will easily close out the series tonight without allowing Joey Crawford a chance to leave his mark in the game. And while he wont be the dynamic scorer he has been most of the series, the extra attention given to Danny Green will allow someone else to step up and close out the series; however he still will be rewarded for having a great series and be named Finals MVP. Spurs 101 Heat 94