This is by far the most bizarre NBA Finals matchup that I have ever laid my eyes upon. Tonight the Spurs bounced back from a Game 4 loss as they defeated the Miami Heat by a score of 114-104.
Manu Ginobli has to be given the game ball for his 24 point 10 assist performance. After four games of “meh”, Gregg Popovich did the unthinkable and inserted Ginobli into the starting lineup (his first start of the entire season) for tonight’s contest. This proved to be the key for San Antonio.
Manu was all over the court making shot after shot and great decision after great decision. Gone was the turnover prone and clumsy play of Manu that we have been used to for four consecutive games, tonight we saw glimpses of the Bald Bandit that we all know and love. He was a force to be reckoned with.
Not to be outdone, and surely something that will be talked about for the remainder of the series is the hot shooting of Danny Green. Move over Ray Allen, Danny Green is now the 3-point shooting king.
Danny boy put in 24 points off 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, and in doing so, Green broke the Finals record for three point shots in a series with 25. Danny Green is shooting unconscious right now and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon.
He was a man on a mission, at times it was as if he was shooting the ball into the ocean. Why does Miami leave him open so often? All this and I have yet to mention the exceptional play of Tony Parker.
Parker was the high man with 26 points tonight and nobody in the Miami lineup had a chance guarding him.
In what has turned out to be a chess match from game to game between head coaches, Pop got the best of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra tonight.
By inserting Ginobli into the starting lineup to counter the small ball play of Miami, the Spurs forced Mike Miller to guard Ginobli and it was a mismatch from the very beginning. Secondly, Norris Cole off the bench was atrocious, he was the weak link at all times on the floor defensively. Seriously, Tony Parker turned himself into the local authorities after the game for his assault on Norris Cole tonight. No other way to describe it but child’s play, Tony was ridiculous with his crafty ball skills and unstoppable floater that seemed to not even touch the net while going down.
Bottom line, the Heat are in some deep trouble. The panic button is certainly out in South Beach. This was not Game 3, where the series was still being felt out and the Heat played a terrible ball game. Tonight the Heat had scoring from each of their “Big 3” players, 25, 16 and 25 between LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dywane Wade respectively.
Ray Allen scored the ball well also, he shot 7-of-10 from the field which netted him 21 points. My main concern for the Heat would be that it seems the Spurs have figured out a way to at least slow down Lebron. “The King” was not nearly as effective as we have seen him be throughout the playoffs and it took him 22 shots to score 25 points.
The reason for that seemed to be the defense of Spurs reserve center Boris Diaw. Exactly, Diaw shut Lebron James down tonight. In what turned out to be the 2nd most interesting stat of the night, when Diaw was guarding Lebron, LBJ was a dismal 1-of-8 shooting.
Don’t worry, I am sure Pop will make note of it and we will see more Boris on Lebron for Game 6. The most interesting or telling stat from Game 6 to me ended up being that in just 9 minutes of action, Udonis Haslem had a +/- rating of -20 and in 7 minutes of play Norris Cole ended with a +/- rating of -14.
Yes its official, the Miami Heat’s proverbial backs are now against the proverbial wall. Usually they respond well to this type of pressure but something tells me Game 6 will be a tightly contested game. My initial Spurs in 6 prediction is still alive and we will look for San Antonio to come out swinging early as the series shifts back to Miami for a potential closeout game Tuesday night. One thing is for certain, the basketball world will be watching and if Lebron does not show up and the Heat lose, the legacy of “King James” will surely take a hit.