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NBA Finals blog, game five (Spurs 114-104 Heat)

I should really write these blogs in-game, instead I’m finishing writing this up in the afternoon when I’ve woken up.  Sleep is a great thing, what can I say.

In the early hours though the San Antonio Spurs took a 3-2 lead in the series as the AT&T Center says goodbye to NBA basketball for another season and in this pivotal game five we saw two things standout.

As I mentioned in my last entry, Manu Ginobili needed to step up in this game in this series. He has been a non-factor in the first four games and when they needed him most; the Argentine needed to shine. And he came good in game five. Handed a starting spot for the first time since last year’s Western finals game six, he drilled in 24 points and 10 assists to repay the favour to coach Gregg Popovich, who countered Erik Spoelstra’s tactic in the last game of going small by dropping Tiago Splitter in favour of Ginobili. It was a plan that worked.

Danny Green is the leading candidate for Finals MVP. You would have never expected that when this started but Green is ahead of the pack. He was once again at the heart of the offence and as we know, and TalkBasket tweeted this in- game, he overtook Ray Allen for most three-pointers made with 25. He’s three long-range bombs away from the all-time post-season record, which is currently held by Orlando Magic’s Dennis Scott, who drilled in 28 triples.

While it’s always fun to see Miami play, especially when in transition, the Spurs are the best team-orientated side going. What’s good about them is that different players have stepped up for them over the years and it’s happening here. In a series where we’re expecting Tony Parker to show us that he belongs on the big stage along with Tim Duncan, whose time to call it quits is getting nearer and Ginobili to come off the bench and show us his usual array of slicing through defences and becoming a general nuisance to the Heat at both ends. But instead, we’ve seen Green announce himself on the big stage, Gary Neal has been getting it done in the early part of the series, though he struggled in game five and as for Parker and Duncan: they’ve had their off-days but overall, they’ve both guided the team to this 3-2 lead. Parker’s hamstring wasn’t a factor; Duncan was outstanding with a 17 point, 12 rebound double-double. All we needed was Ginobili to come out.

And he did.

As a team the Spurs shot 60 percent from the floor. The ball movement was spectacular and they got everyone involved, where as the Heat didn’t. It seemed for the majority that they relied on Wade and James. As good as they are, that won’t get it done in this series.

BACK TO SOUTH BEACH, ROLE PLAYERS NEED TO COME BACK

While San Antonio has weapons galore, Miami need more of what happened in game two: more players to step up. LeBron James simply can not do this on his own and even though Dwyane Wade has woken up a bit more during these last two games, the Spurs have four scoring threats. The Heat need to up that ante for themselves.

The thing is, in this game; the role players weren’t as much to blame for this. Coach Spoelstra simply didn’t give them a chance. LeBron played 44 minutes, Wade played 40, Bosh 38 and Ray Allen 30. The Birdman didn’t play; Norris Cole got just 7 minutes and Udonis Haslem just 9 minutes. Mario Chalmers was ineffective, struggling to cope with a not fully healthy Tony Parker and Mike Miller’s starting line-up role surely has to end in game six. Two starts, and he has produced absolutely nothing.

This series is still in the balance, two games now in Miami, and I can see the Heat winning both. The Spurs are by no means celebrating yet. They might be up 3-2, but this series has been one where each team has jostled for position, unable to break free for the other. It’s truly a best-of-three series (yeah, I read that somewhere), the Spurs are 1-0 to the good. Off to South Beach.

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